Asked whether the United States had done the right thing in taking military action against Iraq, 47 percent of respondents said it had, down from 58 percent a month earlier and 63 percent in December, just after American forces captured Saddam Hussein. Forty-six percent said the United States should have stayed out of Iraq, up from 37 percent last month and 31 percent in December.
[Bush's approval rating] now stands at 46 percent, the lowest level of his presidency in The Times/CBS News Poll, down from 71 percent last March and a high of 89 percent just after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
Mr. Bush's approval rating for his handling of Iraq was 41 percent, down from 49 percent last month and 59 percent in December.
Asked whether the results of the war with Iraq were worth the loss of American lives and other costs, 33 percent of respondents said it was worth it. That was down from 37 percent at the beginning of April and 44 percent in December. Fifty-eight percent said it was not worth it, up from 54 percent at the start of the month and 49 percent in December.
At a time when American troops are engaged in fierce battles in Najaf and Falluja, two centers of the Iraqi insurgency, the poll found that 46 percent of Americans thought the United States military should remain in Iraq for as long as it takes to create a stable democracy, even if it takes a long time, and 46 percent said the United States should withdraw as soon as possible.
American perceptions of Iraqis have also shifted, the poll found. While 53 percent of Americans in a CBS News poll a year ago saw Iraqis as grateful for getting rid of Mr. Hussein, 38 percent see Iraqis feeling that way now. Forty-eight percent now view the Iraqis as resentful, up from 26 percent a year ago.
If the election were held today, 46 percent of registered voters would vote for Mr. Kerry and 44 percent for Mr. Bush, the poll found. With Mr. Nader in the race, Mr. Bush would get 43 percent, Mr. Kerry 41 percent and Mr. Nader 5 percent, suggesting that nearly all of Mr. Nader's support comes from voters who would otherwise back the Democrat.