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Iraq exit splits Utahns

Support for war slipping — even in reddest state

Utahns are split over whether American troops should be out of Iraq within one year, a new survey shows.

A Deseret Morning News/KSL-TV poll by Dan Jones & Associates found that 49 percent of Utahns do not want U.S. troops out of Iraq within one year, while 43 percent said troops should be out of Iraq by the end of the next 12 months.

The survey queried 409 Utahns between Sept. 29 and Oct. 4 and had a margin of error of 5 percent.

The pollsters asked what was the best time-frame for removing troops from Iraq — one year, within two or three years, before five years, or whether U.S. troops should remain longer than five years in Iraq.

The survey found that 41 percent of those polled want troops out within one year, 30 percent said two or three years, and 5 percent said within five years. A hard-core 7 percent opposed troop removal even within five years. Sixteen percent didn't know.

That means 71 percent of Utahns in the poll said they want U.S. troops out of Iraq within three years, and few Utahns would support troops staying longer.

Asked if the alternative was bringing home the troops at some point, or keeping them there until some kind of "victory" is achieved, the Utahns in the survey were split on that question, as well. Forty-eight percent of those surveyed said the troops should be brought home in a "certain set amount of time," while 46 percent said troops should stay in Iraq as long as it takes to achieve "victory."

"Utah appears to be at the tail end of the (anti-war) wave" moving across the nation, said Kirk Jowers, head of the University of Utah's Hinckley Institute of Politics. Utahns are moving into an anti-war, bring-the-troops-home mind-set, he added.

"Utah has been Bush's last stand" — the reddest of the red states that still support the president's war policies, Jowers said. "We are more forgiving of the president's Iraq policies than any other state" in the nation.

But Utah is changing in those opinions, Jowers added. "We are turning against Bush and his handling of the war in Iraq."

By national standards, Utah is one of the most supportive, "red" states in the nation — early backers of the Iraqi war and firm supporters of Bush. Utah gave Bush his highest majority of voters in both 2000 and 2004.

This past January, only 32 percent of Utahns disapproved of the job Bush was doing as president, while among all Americans, 63 percent disapproved of Bush's job performance.

As recently as June 2005, 62 percent of Utahns told Jones that they supported America's involvement in the Iraqi war.

But that support is clearly slipping as America enters its fifth year of the war, which is longer than the United States fought in either World War II or the U.S. Civil War.

Support for Bush and the war clearly breaks out along partisan political lines in Utah.

Jones found in the new survey that 67 percent of Utah Republicans still say American troops should stay in Iraq until some kind of victory is achieved. Democrats and political independents nix that approach. Ninety percent of Democrats say the troops should be brought home; 60 percent of independents say the troops should be brought home in a certain time-frame, not waiting for "victory."

Sixty-four percent of Utah Republicans think U.S. troops should be out of Iraq within three years, Jones found.

But Democrats and independents differ. Jones found that 96 percent of Utah Democrats say the troops should all be brought home within three years, and 72 percent of independents say the troops should be returned home within three years.

The Utah poll reflects the lack of national consensus about the best time frame for bringing the troops home. In a recent debate, even the leading Democratic presidential candidates couldn't promise that all U.S. troops will be out of Iraq at the end of his or her first term — in 2013.