Recent optimistic news out of Iraq regarding a sharp decline in US casualties has done little to sway public opinion about the ongoing conflict.
The percentage of Americans who want to see a decrease in the number of US troops deployed to Iraq has now reached a high mark of 60%, though public opinion overall looks to be forming hardened positions on the Iraq policy debate, according to the latest ABC News/Washington Post opinion poll.
A majority has advocated a reduction in troop levels since late 2005, though this is the first time the figure has reached 60%. The number of those who say the US should increase the number of troops in Iraq matched a previous low--9% of respondents--set in December 2005, just after Iraq's historic elections.
Despite a readiness to see the troops come home, those surveyed demonstrate prudence in how the withdrawal should be handled. Only 17% advocate an immediate withdrawal of all US forces, while about two out of every five Americans favor a gradual drawdown.
More than 80% of Democrats and nearly 60% of independents want at least some troops pulled out of Iraq, though only 26% of Dems and 14% of independents want a full withdrawal.
A majority of Republicans, by contrast, reported wanting to maintain (44 percent) or increase (17 percent) the US troop levels in Iraq.
Sixty-three percent of the American public believe the war was not worth fighting. Over half reported feeling "strongly" that the war should not have been fought, more than double the number of strong supporters.
Among those who consider the war worth fighting, about half say the next president should continue the path set by President Bush, though the vast majority of the 60% who consider the war to have been a mistake want the next president to chart a new direction.
Roughly 60% say US efforts are not helping to restore civil order in Iraq, compared to 40% who would disagree--numbers virtually unchanged since the question was last asked back in September.
Read the full polling report: 1050a2IraqWar.pdf