The trends over time tell an important story of President Bush’s failed efforts to shift the basic structure of American public opinion on Iraq:
– President Bush has lacked support and approval from a majority of Americans on Iraq for TWO YEARS. The last time a clear majority of Americans said that they approved President Bush’s handling of Iraq was December 2003, just after the capture of Saddam Hussein.
– Fully 58 percent disapprove of President Bush’s handling of the situation with Iraq – unchanged since he began his public relations offensive in late November.
– A majority of Americans (54 percent) support a timetable for withdrawal.
There have been some slight shifts on some certain questions – 49 percent say United States troops should stay in Iraq as long as it takes to make sure Iraq is a stable democracy, up 6 points since early November.
But overall, President Bush’s efforts to shift Americans’ opinions on Iraq, just as he failed to make the case for his Social Security plan last year.
A bipartisan majority of 79 senators in November supported a vote of no confidence in President Bush’s Iraq policy, calling on him to put forward a real strategy for success.
President Bush has failed to make his case. It is time for a new course.