WASHINGTON — About two-thirds of Americans approve of President Bush's handling of the situation in Iraq and think he did enough diplomatically before invading, according to new polls released Friday.
An ABC-Washington Post poll found the president's job approval rating at 67 percent, up from pre-war polls that showed his approval level ranging from the mid 50s to about 60 percent.
A CBS-New York Times poll found that 62 percent say they think the United States did the right thing about Iraq. And slightly more in a CNN-USA Today-Gallup poll, 70 percent, said they agreed this country took military action at the right time.
The public rallying around the president is typical in wartime. But the public is viewing the administration's actions in Iraq less enthusiastically than the actions in the Persian Gulf War by President George H.W. Bush, father of the current president, a dozen years ago.
In 1991, about 80 percent approved of the president's handling of the situation in Iraq, and about the same percentage approved of his overall job performance after an international coalition moved to evict Iraqi troops from neighboring Kuwait. The same proportion also thought the president had done enough diplomatically before taking military action.
The lower support for the president's handling of the current military action apparently is related to the United States' failure to win substantial international backing for this war against Iraq.
Pre-war polls showed the public was split on military action without the backing of the United Nations.
The ABC-Post poll of 506 adults has an error margin of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points. The CBS-Times poll of 463 adults has an error margin of plus or minus 5 percentage points. The CNN-USA Today-Gallup poll of 602 adults has an error margin of plus or minus 4 percentage points. All three polls were taken Thursday.
Among the polls' other findings about the current war:
—About three-fourths in the polls expressed support for the decision to go to war. About nine of 10 Republicans supported it, and about half of Democrats.
—Just over a third expect substantial U.S. casualties, down from the number who expected substantial casualties early this month, according to the ABC-Post poll.
—Just under four in 10 expect the fighting will last a few days or weeks.
—People were divided on whether Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein must be captured or killed for the United States' military action to be considered a success.
—Concerns about the possibility of terrorism are high, but have not increased substantially since the war started.