WASHINGTON (CNN) –A new national poll suggests that nearly three-quarters of all Americans support the plan to withdraw most U.S. combat troops from Iraqi cities and towns, even though most believe that the troop movements will lead to an increase in violence in that country.
The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll released on Tuesday morning comes on the same day as the long-anticipated deadline for American troops to pull out of Iraqi towns and cities. The U.S. military has been gradually moving its combat troops out of Iraq's population centers for months to meet the deadline agreed by Washington and Baghdad. Since January the Americans have handed over or shut down more than 150 bases across the country, leaving U.S. troops in a little over 300 locations in Iraq that will gradually be handed over to Iraqi control. The Iraqi government describes Tuesday's pullout as National Sovereignty Day."
Seventy-three percent of Americans questioned in the poll favor the withdrawal of US combat troops from Iraqi cities and towns, with 26 percent opposed.
"This plan has widespread bipartisan support," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Seventy two percent of Democrats and 74 percent of Republicans favor this move."
The poll indicates that 52 percent think the level of violence in Iraqi cities will increase after U.S. troops withdraw, with 32 percent saying things will remain the same and 15 percent feeling that the level of violence will decrease. If violence does increase, the poll suggests Americans are quite clear about how to respond.
"Nearly two-thirds say that the U.S. should not send combat troops back into Iraqi population centers even if there is a significant increase in the number of violence attacks." Holland notes. "Americans seem to believe that once the Iraqis are in charge, it's up to them to solve any future problems."
The overall war in Iraq remains unpopular, with only about a third the public supporting the U.S. war in that country.
The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted Friday through Sunday, with 1,026 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.