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Public Now More Optimistic About Iraq

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A new Pew Research Poll shows 53% of Americans believe we will succeed in Iraq. That’s the highest percentage since the summer or 2006 and 11 points higher than last September. The percentage of people believing the war is going “very well” or “fairly well” has also jumped, from 30% six months ago to 48% now.

These numbers are unsurprising. They correspond to the two-thirds drop in troop deaths over the same period as well as the overall decrease in violence across Iraq and specifically in Baghdad. The question is, who benefits the most politically if the situation remains more stablized? Conventional wisdom holds that a less chaotic Iraq would lift the fortunes of John McCain and the Republican party because fewer voters would be demanding American withdrawal. However, greater stability would also give credence to the Democratic position that it’s time to begin our departure. And, better yet for the Democrats, they could frame such a policy as pragmatic and practical, rather than having to walk so close to the surrender/defeatist line.

What happens in Iraq between now and November will influence and could very well determine the outcome of the election. Whether we see continued progress towards stability (a goal we should all be rooting hard for) or a return to violence, how the candidates address the evolving situation and changing facts will tell us a lot about their ability to manage the conflict as president. I don’t care where you sit on the political spectrum, what we want is a president who can make policy based on the reality of the situation not the ideology of their party or the fluctuation in the polls.