Public supports troop deadline in Iraq

The excellent Pew Center has released a new poll on Iraq, and the results are surprising. The main finding is that the public supports the House plan for withdrawal by August 2008:

A solid majority of Americans say they want their congressional representative to support a bill calling for a withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq by August 2008. Nearly six-in-ten (59%) say they would like to see their representative vote for such legislation, compared with just 33% who want their representative to oppose it.

I called Scott Keeter, Director of Survey Research at Pew, to get a regional breakdown on the numbers, and there was an interesting surprise:

Percent supporting/opposing House plan for troop deadline

- EAST: 66% in favor of House plan; 28% against
- MIDWEST: 64% in favor; 29% against
- SOUTH: 60% in favor; 32% against
- WEST: 48% in favor; 41% against (11-12% "don't know")

So except for the West -- which Mr. Keeter agreed was an interesting outlier -- there's double-digit support for the plan in every region of the country, including the South. This jibes with other polls, such as the Institute's finding last October that 30% of Southerners supported immediate withdrawal from Iraq.

On the flip side, the other interesting finding of the Pew poll is a slight up-tick in the number who think the Iraq war is going "very or fairly well." In February, only 30% of the public thought that; in March, the fourth anniversary of the war, the number rose to 40%.

I asked for the regional breakdown on this question, too, and it shows that the Midwest and South remain the most optimistic regions about the war -- but the majority still don't think Iraq is going well:

Percent who believe Iraq war is going "very well," "fairly well," "not well," "not well at all"

- EAST: 9% "very well;" 23% "fairly well;" 36% "not well;" 31% "not well at all"
- MIDWEST: 8% "very well;" 32% "fairly well;" 33% "not well;" 25% "not well at all"
- SOUTH: 12% "very well;" 33% "fairly well;" 30% "not well;" 20% "not well at all"
- EAST: 8% "very well;" 30% "fairly well;" 29% "not well;" 25% "not well at all"