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Sunday, July 20, 2008

WAR ON TERROR: 48% of Americans now believe we're WINNING.

Chest bump!

Nearly half of Americans (48%) now believe the United States and its allies are winning the War on Terror, as opposed to 20% who give the nod to the terrorists, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national survey. These figures reflect a dramatic improvement from a year ago—in July 2007, only 36% thought the U.S. and its allies were winning. An equal number thought the terrorists held the advantage.

The 28-point difference is the most favorable margin recorded by Rasmussen Reports since tracking began in January 2004 and seems to reflect a growing confidence among adults that the tide is turning in Iraq and in the war on terror in general. The previous high was established on September 6, 2004 when 52% thought the U.S. and its allies were winning but 26% thought the terrorists were winning at that time for a 26-point favorable margin.

Thirty-seven percent (37%) now think the situation in Iraq will get better over the coming six months while only 25% expect it to get worse. A year ago, the assessment was far more pessimistic—just 23% said that things would get better while 49% offered the more pessimistic response.
Another recent poll showed that 40% now believe it is possible for the U.S. to win the War in Iraq.

The new findings also show 45% now believe the United States is safer today than it was before the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, while 37% believe otherwise. Those figures are also the most optimistic on record.

The findings come as Democratic candidate Barack Obama reemphasized his opposition to the war in Iraq in a major policy speech Tuesday. “As should have been apparent to President Bush and Sen. [John] McCain, the central front in the war on terror is not Iraq, and it never was,” he said, adding that his strategy will be “taking the fight to al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

His Republican opponent, Sen. McCain, quickly criticized Obama both for the substance of his remarks and the timing of them. “Sen. Obama is departing soon on a trip abroad that will include a fact-finding mission to Iraq and Afghanistan,' said McCain. 'And I note that he is speaking today about his plans for Iraq and Afghanistan before he has even left, before he has talked to Gen. [David] Petraeus, before he has seen the progress in Iraq and before he has set foot in Afghanistan for the first time.'

McCain has been a consistent supporter of the war in Iraq and was one of the earliest proponents of the so-called surge of additional U.S.troops into the country which is credited with the growing stabilitythere. Obama has long opposed the war and has criticized the surge, but his campaign now stands accused of purging criticism of the surge from its website.

Forty-four percent (44%) of voters say that they trust Obama more when it comes to Iraq, 43% say they trust McCain more. McCain has an advantage on the broader topic of national security issues.

Rasmussen Reports will continue polling weekly on this topic through the election and then resume monthly tracking. Weekly updates are posted on the Obama-McCain: By the Numbers page. During weekly tracking in Election 2004, confidence that the U.S. and its allies were winning ranged from a low of 45% to a high of 52% but the number who thought the terrorists were winning never fell below 25%. The current findings that only 20% believe the terrorists are winning matches the most optimistic assessment yet recorded.

Seventy-nine percent (79%) of Republicans think the U.S. and its allies are winning, up from 68% last week. There is little change among Democrats, only 27% of whom agree. But 43% of unaffiliated voters, who will be key to the fall election, now think the U.S. is winning, up from 36% a week ago.
Both men (54% now, up from 49% last week) and women (43%, up from 37%) also are more confident that the U.S. and its allies are winning in Iraq.

A plurality of voters (44%) still believe the war in Iraq will go down in history as a failure, although that number, too, has fallen six percentage points in a week with most going into the ranks of the undecided. Thirty-three percent (33%) say it will be considered a success, up a single percentage point from a week ago.

President Bush’s handling of Iraq gets marginally better marks this week
, too, with 27% rating it good or excellent, and 49% judging it as poor. His overall job approval ratings continue to set record lows.
During the 2004 election cycle, the War on Terror was the number one issue for voters. Since then voters have identified economic issues as their number one concern.