Nov. 1 — A substantial majority of Americans expect Democrats to reduce or end American military involvement in Iraq if they win control of Congress next Tuesday, and say Republicans would maintain or increase troop levels to try to win the war if they hold on to power on Capitol Hill, according to the
final New York Times/CBS News poll before the midterm election.
The poll found that just 29 percent of Americans approve of the way President Bush
is managing the war in Iraq, matching the lowest mark of his presidency. Nearly 70 percent of Americans said
Mr. Bush did not have a plan to end the war, and an overwhelming 80 percent said Mr. Bush’s latest effort to rally public
support for the conflict amounted to a change in language but not policy.
underlined the extent to which the war has framed the midterm elections. Americans cited Iraq as the most important issue affecting their
vote, and majorities of Republicans and Democrats said they wanted a change in the government’s approach to the war.
Only 20 percent said they thought the United States was winning in Iraq, down from a high of 36 percent in January.
the war, the Times/CBS News poll, like most polls taken this fall, included worrisome indicators for Republicans as they go
into the final days of a campaign in which many of them are bracing for a loss of seats in both the Houser and the Senate.
In a year
when there are many close races, and where the parties’ success at turning out their voters could prove key, Democrats
were more enthusiastic than Republicans about voting and more likely to say they would support their party’s candidates,
though Republicans were slightly more likely to say they would turn out.
of independent voters, a closely watched segment of the electorate in such polarized times, said they intended to vote for
the Democratic candidate, versus 23 percent who said they would vote for a Republican.
Among registered voters, 33 percent said they planned to support for Republicans,
and 52 percent said they would vote for Democrats. As a rule, these kind of generic questions — while providing broad insights into the national mood —
are often imprecise as a predictor of the outcome of hundreds of Congressional races, where local issues and personalities
can shape the result.
the conclusion of a contentious midterm campaign, voters said that neither Democrats nor Republican had offered a plan for
governing should they win on Tuesday, the poll found. Yet Americans have some clear notions of how government might change
if Democrats win control of Congress: Beyond a quicker exit from Iraq, respondents said they thought a Democratic Congress
would be more likely to increase the minimum wage, hold down rapidly rising health and prescription drugs costs, improve the
economy and — as Republicans have said frequently in these closing days of the campaign — raise taxes.
By a slight
margin, more respondents said the threat of terrorism would increase under Republicans than those who said it would increase
telephone poll was conducted Friday through Tuesday with 1,084 adults, including 932 registered voters. The margin of sampling
error for the entire sample is plus or minus three percentage points, and it is the same for registered voters.
the clear expectation — among member of both parties Democrats and Republicans — that a Democratic Congress would
produce a change in Iraqi policy, it is not clear how much influence they might have on Mr. Bush, who as commander in chief
would retain the final say. In addition, while Democrats have coalesced around a general position of finding a way to reduce
or end American involvement in Iraq, there is substantial disagreement among Democratic Congressional leaders and candidates
about exactly how to accomplish this.
percent of respondents — including 67 percent of Republicans and 92 percent of Democrats — said they expected
Americans troops would be taken out of Iraq more swiftly under a Democratic Congress.
percent of respondents said they expected troop levels in Iraq would decrease if Democrats win, while another 40 percent said
the party would seek to remove all troops. Forty-one percent said they expected troop levels to remain the same if Republicans
win, while 29 percent said they thought the United States would send more troops in if the Republicans continue to control Congress.
cut across party lines, but the poll found that Democrats were more likely to say Republicans would fortify American troop
strength there, while Republicans were more likely to say Democrats would remove all troops.
interviews with people questioned in the poll found clear expectations about the policies each party would pursue in Iraq, even if there was disagreement about which
course is correct.
the Republicans continue in power, they would probably just want to keep doing what we’re doing and doing it longer
and harder because the president is Republican and he’s the one who sent the troops there in the first place,”
said Ashley Robertson, 20, a Democrat from Minnesota. “But right now I think it’s a bad thing to bring them all
home because it’s like we went in there to try to help and we’re leaving them high and dry and saying, ‘clean
up our mess.’ ”
73, a Republican from Florida, said she expected Republicans to press for more troops in Iraq if they stay in power — though she said she hoped they
would not. “I’ve always felt we were never going to do any good over there,” she said, adding: “I
don’t think we should increase our troops because increased troops aren’t going to do anything except put more
of our men and women in jeopardy. “
approval rating was 34 percent, unchanged from a poll three weeks ago, an anemic rating that explains why many Democrats are
featuring him in their final advertisements, as well as why many Republican incumbents do not want him at their side. Fifty-six
percent of respondents said Mr. Bush’s campaigning on behalf of candidates had generally hurt them, compared with 26
percent who said a campaign visit by Mr. Bush helped.
was a slight increase, from 34 percent of respondents three weeks ago to 38 percent, who said they approved of how Mr. Bush
was managing the economy. Similarly,
there was a slight increase, from 40 percent in July to 44 percent now, in the number of respondents who said they approved
of how Mr. Bush was managing the situation with North Korea.
In a year
that has been marked by a series of Congressional corruption scandals, including some that have broken in the middle of this
campaign, 58 percent of voters said that corruption was widespread in Washington; 35 percent said the Republican Party had the most number of
corrupt politicians, compared with 15 percent who pointed to the Democratic Party.
In a campaign
that will no doubt be remembered for the sheer volume of negative advertisements, voters were slightly more likely to put
the blame on Republicans: 32 percent said they were responsible for negative campaigning this year, compared with 22 percent
who blamed Democrats. Thirty-five percent said both parties were responsible.
found the intensity of Democratic support for Democratic candidates is slightly greater than Republican support for Republican
candidates, a finding that could give at least some solace to Democrats who have been concerned that the Republican Party’s
formidable get out the vote operation would help them eke out victories in close Congressional races. Ninety percent of Democratic
voters are planning to vote Democratic, while 83 percent of Republicans said they would support Republican candidates.
50 percent of Democrats said they felt more enthusiastic about voting in this election than in previous ones, compared with
39 percent of Republicans. But 93 percent of Republicans said they were definitely or probably going to vote next Tuesday,
compared with 89 percent of Democrats.