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GOP Circulates Poll on Troop Funding Delays

GOP strategists say internal party polling indicates that most Americans would blame Democrats if funding for U.S. troops in Iraq is delayed by a presidential veto. They say the polling vindicates their strategy of backing President Bush and opposing Democratic efforts to end the war, but Democrats dismissed the results and said a variety of nonpartisan polls showed majorities favoring their position on the war.

The new polling data, conducted March 25-27 for the Republican National Committee by Public Opinion Strategies, also found that 64 percent of voters oppose Democrats’ decision to include billions in unrelated domestic spending in the recent Iraq War supplemental.

The survey polled 800 registered voters nationwide, and has a margin of error of 3.46 points.

“I’m glad to hear it,” one Senate GOP strategist said Friday, arguing the new data is a vindication of Republicans’ messaging strategy. “We have felt in our guts that Americans do not favor defunding the troops,” the source said.

The strategist also pointed to the poll’s finding that by a 50 percent to 40 percent margin Democrats stand to take the blame for any potential funding shortfalls should Bush veto the spending bill. The White House has issued a veto threat over provisions in the bill setting a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq as well as the domestic earmarks.

The latest GOP data comes as lawmakers are gearing up for an intense week of partisan warfare in their home states. The White House and Congressional Republicans will continue to make the case over the next week that a funding showdown between the two branches has been caused by Democrats. At the same time, House and Senate Democratic leaders dispatched their Members home late last week with talking points aimed at placing the blame on Bush and his GOP allies in both chambers.

Democrats dismissed the poll as an inherently flawed survey, noting that it was conducted by a firm with ties to the Republican Party.

“I’m sure this partisan poll will provide Senate Republicans little comfort as they spend the next week fending off questions from angry constituents wondering why they continue to support the president’s failed policies,” said Rodell Mollineau, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). “Nonpartisan polling has for some time shown that the American people want to change course in Iraq. That’s why voters elected Democrats in November, and that is what we are working to do,” Mollineau said.

Likewise, a House Democratic leadership aide pointed to a number of nonpartisan polls by media outlets, as well as a recent Greenberg Quinlan Rosner poll for, as running counter to the GOP data. For instance, this aide points to a poll by Newsweek released March 17 that showed 59 percent of Americans support the House Democrats’ plan for withdrawing from Iraq by the fall of 2008.

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