Nonetheless, as ratings of security in Iraq have improved, so has the sense that winning there is necessary; today's 42 percent is up from a low of 31 percent last spring.
In Iraq, as noted, the change in optimism is not just a result of progress in security. Even among those who see no such progress, 52 percent are now optimistic, up from 26 percent a year ago. Again, that's because these people are disproportionately Democrats, brightened by Obama.
Specifically, a year ago a mere 30 percent of Democratic and Democratic-leaning independents were optimistic about Iraq; today it's 67 percent. Republicans and Republican-leaning independents meanwhile have held steady -- 71 percent optimistic about Iraq a year ago, 68 percent now.
Other views on Iraq remain highly partisan.
Seventy percent of Republicans (and 78 percent of conservative Republicans) say the war was worth fighting; just 32 percent of independents and 13 percent of Democrats agree.
There's partisanship on Afghanistan as well, but somewhat less so: Seventy-six percent of Republicans say that war was worth fighting; 58 percent of independents and 41 percent of Democrats agree.
Majority Disapprove of Bush's Job as President
As for Bush, he's now gone 47 months without majority approval of his job performance overall, a record by far in 70 years of presidential approval polls, well beyond Harry Truman's 38 months in the doghouse from 1949-52.
Thirty percent now approve of Bush's work in office, up from his low of 23 percent in October (presidents generally recover somewhat as they leave office and step away from the political fray) but still remarkably low.
Sixty-eight percent disapprove, 5 points from Bush's record 73 percent disapproval two months ago, another record in presidential approval polls.
At 6 percent, Bush's approval rating among Democrats is 1 point from his all-time low Oct. 11; he's got 30 percent approval from independents and 66 percent from Republicans, up by 12 and 11 points, respectively.
He's got one new career low this month, 45 percent approval among conservatives.
The intensity of sentiment also remains strongly against Bush.
Fifty-two percent of Americans not only disapprove of his job performance, but "strongly" disapprove. Just 12 percent strongly approve.
And Bush, who received 92 percent approval a month after 9/11, the highest on record for any president in polls since Franklin Roosevelt, has subsided to a career average 51 percent approval across his eight years in office.
Only four presidents since 1938 have averaged lower -- Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Truman and Jimmy Carter, at 49, 48, 47 and 46 percent career average approval, respectively.
METHODOLOGY: This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by telephone Dec. 11-14, 2008, among a random national sample of 1,003 adults, including landline and cell-only respondents. Results for the full sample have a 3-point error margin; click here for a detailed description of sampling error and here for a pdf version with question wording and results. Sampling, data collection and tabulation by TNS of Horsham, PA.