Elon Poll of Southeastern states shows 57 percent oppose U.S. troop surge in Iraq

A new Elon University Poll of five Southeastern states shows 57 percent of respondents disapprove or strongly disapprove of President Bush's plan to increase the number of U.S. troops in Iraq, while 58 percent disapprove of the way he is handling his job as president, up from 52 percent in a February 2006 poll of the same states.

The poll, conducted Feb. 18-22 by the Elon University Institute for Politics and Public Affairs, surveyed 719 residents in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percent. This is the second regional poll conducted by the Elon University Poll after more than 30 statewide polls in North Carolina since 2000.

Fifty-seven percent said they disapprove or strongly disapprove of President Bush’s plan to increase troop levels in Iraq, and 64 percent disapprove or strongly disapprove of his handling of the war in Iraq, compared with 57 percent in the February 2006 regional poll. Thirty-one percent approve or strongly approve of his handling of the war, compared with 39 percent in February 2006.

Thirty-eight percent of those surveyed approve or strongly approve of the job President Bush is doing, compared with 43 percent in the February 2006 poll. When asked about Bush’s handling of the economy, 43 percent approve or strongly approve, compared with 40 percent in February 2006. Forty-nine percent disapprove or strongly disapprove of his work on the economy, compared to 54 percent in the February 2006 survey.

When asked what the most important issue facing the country is, 45 percent of respondents said the war in Iraq, compared with 26 percent in February 2006.

Fifty percent of those surveyed said a stalemate is the most likely outcome for the United States in Iraq, while 23 percent said victory and 16 percent said defeat. Fifty-six percent said the war in Iraq was not worth fighting, up from 51 percent in February 2006. Forty percent said the war was worth fighting, compared with 44 percent in February 2006.

"It seems the war in Iraq is the issue that has deflated this administration in the eyes of the public," said Hunter Bacot, director of the Elon University Poll. "It appears citizens have a little more faith in Congressional Democrats to handle the situation in Iraq than the president. That may put pressure on Congress to address the issue during the coming year."

Forty-four percent said they trust Democrats in Congress to do a better job handling the situation in Iraq, compared with 38 percent who said they trust President Bush.

When asked how much confidence they have in this Congress, 52 percent said they have some confidence or a lot of confidence, while 44 percent said they have not much confidence or no confidence at all. Forty-four percent said their confidence in Congress lately has decreased, 26 percent said it has increased and 29 percent said it has remained the same.

Seventy-one percent said the relationship between President Bush and Congress will be worse over the next 2 years, while 16 percent said it will get better and 6 percent said it will not change.

The Elon University Poll has conducted several polls annually since 2000. The non-partisan Elon University Poll conducts frequent scientific telephone polls on issues of importance citizens. The poll results are shared with media, citizens and researchers to facilitate representative democracy and public policy making through the better understanding of the opinions and needs of citizens in the state and region.