Polling around in America

Saturday, December 30, 2006 at 05:00 PM

Was it a good year for America?  For you, personally?  What about the coming year?

Poll time again, in the good old United States of Avoidance.  And all that's missing is a good dose of truth serum so that we could have some confidence in these self-reports from anAP-AOL News poll conducted by Ipsos:

Most Americans are optimistic about the coming year, with 72 percent of adults say they're optimistic about what the year 2007 will bring for the country, and an even larger percentage, 89 percent, optimistic about what the year 2007 will bring for them and their families.

...looking back at the year 2006, 58 percent say this was a bad year for the country. Nearly a quarter say it was a very bad year. But while most Americans said 2006 was a bad year for the country, 76 percent say the year was a good one for them and their families.
While Americans are generally optimistic about what the new year will bring at home, when it comes to the situation in Iraq most are far more pessimistic. 40 percent of adults say they expect the situation in Iraq to get worse in 2007, while 31 percent see no change on the horizon. Just 27 percent expect the situation in Iraq to get better. Again, partisanship divides the population. Over half, 52 percent, of Democrats expect the situation in Iraq to get worse in 2007, compared with just 20 percent of Republicans. But Republican optimism is not as strong as Democratic pessimism. Just 37 percent of Republicans expect the situation in Iraq to get better, and 40 percent expect it will stay about the same. That compares with 21 percent of Democrats who think things will improve in Iraq, and 25 percent who expect the status quo.

Speaking of Iraq, the U.S. military folks seem to be slowly getting the message, according to a recent Military Times poll.

The U.S. military, once a staunch supporter of President Bush and the Iraq war, has grown increasingly pessimistic about chances for victory, a new poll says.

For the first time, more troops disapprove of the president's handling of the war than approve of it, according to the 2006 Military Times Poll.

When the military was feeling most optimistic about the war -- in 2004 -- 83 percent of poll respondents said success in Iraq was likely. This year, that number is down to 50 percent.

Only 35 percent of military members polled this year said they approve of the way Bush is handling the war, and 42 percent said they disapprove.
Just as telling, only 41 percent of the military now say the United States should have gone to war in Iraq, down from 65 percent in 2003. That closely reflects beliefs of the general population -- 45 percent agreed in a recent USA Today-Gallup poll.
Only about one in every five service members said large numbers of U.S. troops can be replaced with Iraqi troops within two years. More than one-third think it will take more than five years. And more than half think the United States will have to stay in Iraq more than five years to achieve its goals.

Almost half of those responding think the United States needs more troops in Iraq. A surprising 13 percent said the United States should have no troops there.

So the soldiers get it now, right?  Not so fast:

While approval of the president's war leadership has slumped, his overall approval remains high among the military.
Approval for Bush's overall performance as president remains high, at 52 percent. That's down from his high of 71 percent in 2004, but still far better than approval ratings of the general population, where that number has fallen into the 30s.