President Bush faces growing disenchantment in his own party on the war in Iraq, with most Republicans -- his customarily loyal base -- now saying he's not willing enough to change his war policies. Discontent runs so deep that six in 10 Americans would shift control of the war to Congress.
Overall, an overwhelming 78 percent of Americans in this ABC News/Washington Post poll say Bush is not willing enough to change his stance on the war, up from 66 percent last December. The biggest movement is among Republicans; 55 percent say the president is not willing enough to alter his Iraq polices, up 16 points.
What to do about Iraq remains vexing; public support for a withdrawal deadline collapses in the face of pushback on the prospect of all-out civil war or an al Qaeda stronghold. But neither is the status quo acceptable in a war that 63 percent say was not worth fighting.
Just 22 percent think the "surge" of U.S. forces is improving security, and 64 percent think it will not succeed in the next few months. Congressional Democrats, while also damaged by discontent with the war, lead Bush by 55-32 percent in trust to handle it. Thus the public by 2-1 says Congress, not the president, should have final say on when the troops come home.
As befits a president in an unpopular war, just 33 percent now approve of Bush's job performance overall, matching his career low. Sixty-five percent disapprove, a number surpassed only by Richard Nixon in the summer of 1974, albeit matched by Harry Truman and approached by Bush's father. Fifty-two percent "strongly" disapprove of Bush's work, a new high for this president.
PARTY -- Bush's difficulty extends to his party. Just 23 percent of Americans in this survey identify themselves as Republicans. Aside from an identical reading in April, that's the fewest in any ABC/Post poll in seven years.
In annual averages since 1981, the number of self-identified Republicans had been gradually rising, and the number of Democrats falling, until, in 2003, they reached parity. Since then -- the year the United States invaded Iraq -- the trend has reversed. Republican self-identification is down; independents, in particular, are up.
WITHDRAWAL -- In terms of what to do in Iraq, at least on the fundamental question of withdrawal, options are thorny. While 55 percent support a deadline to withdraw forces by next spring, that drops sharply, to only about a third, if it would raise the odds of a full-scale civil war or an al Qaeda stronghold in Iraq -- precisely Bush's pushback.
Still, concern about negative consequences of withdrawing is countered by a clear desire to get out of Iraq. Setting aside the debate about a deadline and the odds of all-out civil war, 59 percent of Americans favor withdrawing at some point even if civil order has not been restored in Iraq -- a new high, and a number that shifted to a majority only this year.
Relatively few favor immediate withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Iraq -- 20 percent, though that is up slightly, by five points, from last month. Nearly as many, 16 percent, would increase the number of forces.