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Public swayed by Bush speeches

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 20, 2005

President Bush's stiff-arm to Democrats' demands for a military withdrawal from Iraq and his insistence on fighting the war on terror his way are bringing little joy to his critics.

A poll of 1,003 adults shows an 18 percentage point surge in the number of Americans who think the Republican president is making progress in democratizing Iraq.

After his five speeches rejecting calls for pulling out U.S. forces from Iraq, and in some cases defending his domestic intelligence practices, Mr. Bush's job standing in the polls -- boosted by the successful elections held in Iraq last week -- also has either improved, held steady or at the very least stopped declining.

"Christmas came early for the president, whose approval ratings on key issues connected to his presidency witnessed a double-digit increase since early November," said Republican campaign pollster Kellyanne Conway. "The turning point appears to have been threefold: the increasing visibility and humility demonstrated by the president, the continuing inability of the Democrats to map out a positive set of policy alternatives ... and the images of Iraqis lined up at the polls."

A CNN/Gallup/USA Today survey, taken Friday through Sunday, found that half of the 1003 adults sampled think the Iraq elections will be a big help for the United States in achieving what it set out to do -- create a stable, democratic government that poses no threat to its neighbors or to the West.

A Washington Post survey conducted Sunday found that 46 percent of respondents said the Iraq war has been worth fighting, compared with 39 percent in a Post poll taken Nov. 2.

Bringing even more cheer to the White House, the poll found that 65 percent said the United States is making significant progress in bringing democracy to Iraq, compared with 47 percent in November, and that 60 percent said Washington is making headway in restoring order in Iraq, compared with 44 percent last month.

CNN's poll showed that 37 percent approve of Mr. Bush's handling of the Iraq situation, compared with 32 percent in mid-September.

Polls also shows that Mr. Bush is regaining the confidence of his voter base -- Republican loyalists and conservative activists.

"Bush is winning back some of his core constituency," said pollster John Zogby. "These include married voters, gun owners, households with a veteran or current member of the military, red-state voters, NASCAR fans and even some conservatives."

An ABC News-Washington Post poll, conducted Thursday through Sunday, showed the president enjoying an upsweep of nine percentage points in Republican support, bringing his rating to 87 percent; and among conservatives, three out of four approve his performance -- up by 12 points from November.

That poll of 1,003 adults has an error margin of three percentage points.