- The Washington Times - Friday, February 1, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The public overwhelmingly rejects the idea that our troops should immediately withdraw from Iraq. A Fox 5/The Washington Times/Rasmussen poll issued this week says that, by a more than 2-to-1 margin, members of the public believe troops should remain in the region until their mission is complete or within the next year. This could prove a negative harbinger for Democrat Hillary Clinton, who has said she would begin withdrawing troops within 60 days of moving into the White House.

Thirty-five percent of respondents said troops should remain until their job is done, and 34 percent said troops should be brought home “within a year.” Just 25 percent of those polled believed combat troops should be immediately withdrawn. The poll of 1,000 adults carries a 3-point margin of error and was conducted Jan. 23 and 24.

Interestingly, there was a significant gender gap, with 46 percent of men saying troops should remain until their mission is completed, while just 26 percent of women feel doing the same. Among women, there is a notable age gap. Forty-seven percent of women under age 40 support an immediate withdrawal of troops, while just 24 percent of women age 40 and over say the situation demands an immediate exit. Just 3 percent of younger women, contrasted with 32 percent of older women, say troops should remain for the duration of their mission. Blacks were less likely than whites to support the troops staying in, as were people from lower-income brackets and singles. These trends could prove favorable for Republican John McCain, a stalwart supporter of the war, who would keep troops in Iraq until we win and our mission is accomplished.

Respondents were asked about their presidential preferences. Most adults, 54 percent, say they are not passionately and deeply committed to a particular presidential candidate, while just 34 percent say they are. Of those who said they are passionate about a candidate, Mrs. Clinton is ahead, 34 percent to Barack Obama’s 23 percent. The passion is even stronger among respondents who were self-identified Democrats, of whom 53 percent say they are committed to Mrs. Clinton, compared to 28 percent for Mr. Obama. Among Republicans, the picture is muddier. Mitt Romney garners the passion of 34 percent of ardent, self-identified Republicans, but just 11 percent of the general population. Mike Huckabee wins 23 percent of the passionate Republican vote, but just 10 percent of the general population. Mr. McCain is favored by just 10 percent of the passionate, self-identified Republicans and 6 percent of the general public. However, with such a large chunk of uncommitted voters overall, things could change at a moment’s notice.

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