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As Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. military commander in Iraq, and Amb. Ryan C. Crocker testify about the war on Capitol Hill today, they do so against a backdrop of an American public that, as a whole, overwhelmingly wants a timetable set for withdrawal of U.S. troops but is sharply split on that issue along partisan lines, according to a Gallup analysis.

Gallup analyzed data gathered Feb. 21-24 and found that Americans, by a 60 percent to 35 percent margin, want a timetable for withdrawal. Democrats favor that 81 percent to 15 percent but Republicans oppose the idea 65 percent to 32 percent. Republicans are divided amongst themselves: nearly three-quarters of conservative Republicans oppose a timetable for withdrawal, but self-described moderate/liberal Republicans are evenly divided. Independents favor a withdrawal timetable by 61 percent to 32 percent. Fifty-eight percent of Americans believe the surge made no difference or made the situation worse in Iraq compared to 40 percent who said it made things better. Seventy percent of Republicans believed that but 61 percent of Independents, like the Democrats, did not.

Still, although a majority favor a timetable for withdrawal, voters of all stripes appear to be cautious about it. Americans believe 65 percent to 32 percent that the U.S. has an obligation to establish security in Iraq and two-thirds believe Iraq will be “better off in the long run” after the war. Majorities of all political groupings subscribe to that view.

A Rasmussen Reports survey conducted April 1-2 says 65 percent of Americans want U.S. troops brought home with a year. Forty-three percent said the troop “surge” had not worked compared to 32 percent who say it has. Of those, 61 percent of Republicans believe it has worked while 59 percent of Democrats say it has not. Fifty-one percent of unaffiliated voters say it has not worked.

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