WASHINGTON, Aug. 22 — Americans increasingly see the war in Iraq as distinct from the fight against terrorism, and nearly half believe President Bush has focused too much on Iraq to the exclusion of other threats, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.
The poll found that 51 percent of those surveyed saw no link between the war in Iraq and the broader antiterror effort, a jump of 10 percentage points since June. That increase comes despite the regular insistence of Mr. Bush and Congressional Republicans that the two are intertwined and should be seen as complementary elements of a strategy to prevent domestic terrorism. ...
Public sentiment about the war remains negative, threatening to erode a Republican advantage on national security. Fifty-three percent said going to war was a mistake, up from 48 percent in July; 62 percent said events were going “somewhat or very badly” in the effort to bring order and stability to Iraq.
Mr. Bush recorded a gain of four percentage points in how the public views his handling of terrorism, rising to 55 percent approval from 51 percent a week earlier. This was his highest approval rating on the issue since last summer and followed the arrests in Britain in a suspected terror plot to blow up airliners.
Mr. Bush’s overall standing was nevertheless unchanged from the previous week, with 57 percent disapproving and 36 percent approving, far below the level Republicans in Congress would like to see as they prepare for elections in November.