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Most in poll back a war against Iraq

WASHINGTON — President Bush has managed to rally public support for a war with Iraq, a new poll says, even though most Americans say the administration hasn't said enough about the reasons for war.

While polls released Monday showed Bush's approval rating has dropped into the low to mid-50s, they also show general support for military action holding firm and sentiment for prompt action growing slightly.

The polls highlighted the stakes for the president in the Iraq conflict.

Two-thirds support military action against Iraq. About the same percentage say U.N. support is desirable but not necessary if the United States has the support of other countries like Australia, Britain and Spain, according to an ABC poll.

Public support for the war has tended to fluctuate depending on the timing and whether this country has the support of allies or the United Nations.

Half of the respondents in a CBS-New York Times poll said the threat of Iraq's development of weapons requires action now, while four in 10 said the threat can be contained; the public was evenly divided on that question in early March. The number in the poll who said weapons inspectors should be given more time was down from 60 percent in early March to 52 percent now.

Other findings in the CBS-Times poll:

Six in 10 said the United States should take allies' views into account, while 36 percent said the United States should do what it thinks is right.

The public was divided on what this country should do if Russia, France or China veto a new resolution authorizing the use of force if Iraq doesn't completely disarm in the coming days. Those saying proceed anyway made up 44 percent while 49 percent say the United States should take the veto into account.

People were evenly divided on whether other world leaders respect Bush, while they thought by a 49-39 margin two weeks ago that he was respected by those leaders.

More people tend to think a war with Iraq will make the economy worse and will increase the risk of terrorism in this country.

Only a third, 33 percent, said the Bush administration is telling the public all they need to know about the reasons for attacking Iraq. Almost twice that many disagreed.

The president's diminished political standing was suggested in an Ipsos-Reid poll done for the Cook Political Report. His overall job approval was at 53 percent, down from 65 percent in the early fall. His job approval was at 56 percent in the CBS-Times poll. His job approval has been in the low to mid-50s in several recent polls, near the levels it was before Sept. 11, 2001.

Only four in 10 in the Ipsos-Reid poll, 39 percent, said they would definitely vote to re-elect Bush, while 34 percent said they would definitely vote for someone else. A year ago, 54 percent said they would definitely vote for Bush while 20 percent wanted someone else.

The ABC News poll of 1,032 adults was taken March 5-9. The CBS-Times poll of 1,010 adults was taken March 7-9 and the Ipsos-Reid poll of 2,009 adults was taken between Feb. 18 and March 6. The polls by ABC and CBS-Times had error margins of plus or minus 3 percentage points, while the Ipsos-Reid poll had an error margin of plus or minus 2 percentage points.