Disapproval on Iraq Hits Record

The Democrats in Congress continue to hold the upper hand on Iraq (as well as more generally), but slightly less so than last month. Then 60 percent of Americans trusted the Democrats over Bush to handle the war; today, it's 54 percent.

The current political wrangling over Iraq may be a cause, as well as an almost inevitable comedown from the Democrats' election victory in November.

While 50 percent still approve of Nancy Pelosi's work as House speaker, her disapproval is up by six points, to 31 percent. (Comparing powerful Washington women, she's bettered by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, with 58 percent approval. Both vastly outshine Bush.)

One Democratic proposal on Iraq -- to block Bush's surge by changing troop rotation rules -- wins 58 percent support. But another -- restricting funding for the war in an effort to block the surge -- is more divisive, with 46 percent in favor and a slim majority, 51 percent, opposed. Military funding is sensitive with troops in the field.

The Democrats continue to lead Bush in other areas as well, including a 52-39 percent advantage in trust to handle terrorism (once Bush's cornerstone issue, a majority has disapproved of his work on terrorism steadily since October). The Democrats lead by wider margins in trust to handle the economy, despite its relatively good condition; the federal budget; and health care, with no gain for Bush from his State of the Union proposal to move health insurance tax breaks from corporations to individuals.

Iran's Role

The public divides about evenly on whether or not the administration has solid evidence that Iran is supporting insurgent attacks on U.S. forces.

As noted, though, more broadly, 63 percent don't trust the administration to report intelligence on threats from foreign nations honestly and accurately. That lack of trust can make it very hard to marshal public support when needed.

Nearly six in 10 also say they're not confident the administration will do a good job of handling the tensions with Iran. Just 11 percent are very confident it will handle this issue well; three times as many, 34 percent, are not confident at all.

Underscoring his problems, even among Republicans, just 28 percent are very confident in Bush's ability to deal with Iran, while among Democrats, 55 percent have no confidence whatsoever.

The Fight for Afghanistan

Views on the war in Afghanistan stand in contrast to those on Iraq.

A majority of Americans, 56 percent, say the war in Afghanistan was worth fighting, 22 points more than say that about the Iraq War.

But given broader, negative sentiment, there's hardly robust support for expanded U.S. commitment in Afghanistan: Six in 10 say the United States is "doing enough" to help rebuild that county.

If there's a strong case for expanded U.S. support for Afghanistan, as the administration has proposed, most Americans haven't been persuaded.

Longest Streak Since Truman

As noted, Bush hasn't received majority approval in any ABC/Post poll in the last two years -- specifically in 25 months, since Jan. 16, 2005.

Compared with ABC/Post polls since the Reagan presidency, and Gallup polls before them, that's the longest run with less than majority approval for any president since Truman.

It's worth noting not just the length and breadth but also the continued depth of Bush's unpopularity. Barely two in 10 Americans (19 percent) strongly approve of his job performance, while 49 percent strongly disapprove.

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