In mid-January an Associated Press-Ipsos poll found that public support for President Bush's troop surge increased to 35%, up from 26% a few weeks earlier. The same poll found that a slim majority of Americans were against the war in Iraq, but 68% said they opposed shutting off funds to fight it, and 60% said they would oppose Congress's withholding funds necessary to send additional troops.
The American public is aware that sacrifices are occasionally necessary to achieve costly goals. I do not believe the American public is shying from the War in Iraq because of the human toll it is exacting. I believe the American public is shying from the War in Iraq because of the lack of apparent progress. In 2004 G W Bush was re-elected because there was visible sign of progress as demonstrated by the then recent elections. What the American public wants is Victory.
To confuse the current American public anti-Iraq sentiment as a go ahead for withdrawal is a mistake and for politicians not to appreciate the American desire for victory can be politically costly:
Arguably, waffling on the war is what is costly for Republicans. In June Rep. Gil Gutknecht, a Minnesota Republican, cautioned other Republicans not to go wobbly. A month later he went wobbly himself. After returning from Iraq, he declared that the U.S. lacked "strategic control" of the country and called for a limited troop withdrawal to "send a message" to Iraq's government. In November the six-term congressman watched independent voters abandon him as he lost by more than 5% to Democrat Tim Waltz. Meanwhile, in a neighboring congressional district, Rep. John Kline, another Republican facing a stiff challenge for his seat, didn't waver. He ended winning enough support from independents to defeat FBI "whistleblower" Colleen Rowley by 16%.
Over in the Senate, Joe Lieberman recently warned that a showdown on the war between the executive and legislative branches risked creating a "constitutional crisis." But perhaps his most powerful political statement is still being in the Senate after losing a Democratic primary last year to antiwar activist Ned Lamont. The antiwar left is powerful enough to prevail in a Democratic primary, but even in deeply blue Connecticut, it wasn't capable of winning a statewide general election.