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Bush loses support on war, polls say

WASHINGTON -- America's backing for President Bush's handling of the war in Iraq has tumbled to an all-time low, and the vast majority of troops fighting there want out within the next year, two new polls suggested yesterday.

The latest surveys painted a grim picture for the president amid a surge of sectarian violence in Iraq that has dented hopes for stability needed to pave the way for a US withdrawal.

Growing pessimism over Iraq, along with Bush's support despite bipartisan objections for letting a state-owned Arab company take over key operations at six US ports, appeared key factors driving his approval rating down to 34 percent in a CBS News poll, the lowest recorded by CBS.

The same poll that showed Bush's declining popularity had public perceptions of Bush's handling of the situation in Iraq falling to 30 percent from 37 percent in January.

Sixty-two percent of Americans said they thought US efforts to bring order to Iraq were going badly, up from 54 percent in January, compared with 36 percent who said things were going well, a drop from 45 percent.

A Le Moyne College/Zogby poll showed 72 percent of US troops serving there think the United States should exit within the next year.

Nearly one in four said the troops should leave immediately.

A strategy often employed by the Bush administration against critics of the US military presence in Iraq has been to accuse them of being unfair to troops who want to stay until they get the job done.

But opposition among Americans to the Iraq war has grown as American casualties have mounted and unrest has persisted despite a costly program to train Iraqi police and soldiers.

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