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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 October 2006, 23:13 GMT 00:13 UK
Iraq concerns overshadow polls
By Nick Miles
BBC News, Washington

Dick Cheney speaking
The White House's message is being drowned out on a daily basis

The casualty rate for US soldiers in Iraq is at its highest for more than two years. Almost 70 troops have been killed there so far this month.

All the while there is increasing pressure on the Bush administration to come up with a fresh plan for the future of Iraq.

The disarray comes just three weeks before the mid-term congressional elections which the Democratic Party hopes will see it regain control of Congress.

Iraq has become the central issue of those elections.

Almost 2,800 US troops have died there and polls show that there is more disappointment about how the war is progressing than at any time in the last three years.

Southern drift

A recent survey carried out by the Opinion Research Corporation revealed that two thirds of people questioned opposed the war and disapproved of the Bush administration's handling of it.

US convoy attacked in Iraq
Polls suggest two-thirds of Americans oppose the war

One of the most telling polls was conducted by the Institute for Southern Studies based in Durham, North Carolina.

Southerners tend to be aggressive supporters of the US military.

The poll suggested that only 12% of southerners said they were proud of the war.

All this is giving a boost to the Democratic Party as its candidates enter the final weeks of campaigning for the 7 November polls.

Carroll Doherty is from the Pew Research Centre in Washington.

"I think you can certainly see how it's contributing to democratic engagement in this election," she says.

"That, and disfavour with the president, which is of course is tied to Democratic opposition to the war.

"But we're seeing widespread Democratic anger at the government, and that's driving a lot of this Democratic lead that you see in the polls right now amongst likely voters."

'Confident going forward'

Of course everyone is looking for a solution.

But polls also suggest that the Democratic party is seen as even less competent than the current administration.

A Pew survey suggests that only about a quarter of voters feels the Democratic party has a clear plan to resolve the ongoing violence in Iraq.

In a speech this week to soldiers just returned from Iraq, US Vice President Dick Cheney said: "We've made progress - not easily, but steadily. And we can be confident going forward."

Those words reflect the ongoing White House effort to rally the nation behind the existing approach.

But on Wednesday morning, Americans woke to news that 10 more US lives had been lost in Iraq.

On an almost daily basis the White House's message of staying the course in Iraq is getting drowned out.




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