Friday, February 29, 2008

Americans Credit Bush Administration with Keeping Country Safe

A new Pew Research survey finds continued improvements in public support for the Iraq war, and a majority credits the Bush administration with keeping the country safe from another terrorist attack:

Opinions about progress toward specific objectives, such as defeating the insurgents and reducing civilian casualties, also have become much more positive. In addition, the proportion saying the United States is making progress in preventing a civil war in Iraq has approximately doubled in the past year (from 18% to 35%), though a greater percentage (49%) still says the United States is losing ground in preventing civil war.

Despite the more positive outlook, the balance of opinion about the decision to take military action in Iraq is about the same now as it was a year ago. A majority (54%) says the war was the wrong decision, while 38% say it was the right decision. The balance of opinion on whether the war was right is nearly identical to what it was in February 2007 (54% wrong vs. 40% right).

Democrats hold a significant advantage as the party better able to handle Iraq, and have even larger leads on nearly every other issue. By 47%-37%, more people say the Democratic Party rather than the Republican Party is better able to make wise decisions about Iraq. Notably, a majority (53%) also says the Democrats are better able to handle the economy, which has become the leading issue in the presidential campaign. Terrorism is the only issue on which the Republican Party holds even a modest lead (45% to 38%); however, its advantage on dealing with the terrorist threat was approximately twice as great during the 2004 campaign.

In this regard, the poll finds a majority of the public giving the Bush administration credit for preventing another terrorist attack on the U.S. in recent years. More than six-in-ten Americans say the policies and actions Bush has pursued have had a great deal (28%) or fair amount (34%) to do with keeping America safe.
It's noteworthy that while the public picks the Democrats in responding to generic questions about handling Iraq, in trial heat matchups for the general election, John McCain defeats both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama (see "Public Favors McCain Over Democrats").

It's no slam dunk for the Democrats in '08.