Poll: Majority Mistrustful of Upcoming Iraq Report

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A majority of Americans don't trust the upcoming report by the Army's top commander in Iraq on the progress of the war and even if they did, it wouldn't change their mind, according to a new poll.

President Bush frequently has asked Congress -- and the American people -- to withhold judgment on his so-called troop surge in Iraq until Gen. David Petraeus, the commander in Iraq, and Ryan Crocker, U.S. ambassador to Iraq, issue their progress report in September.

But according to a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll released Thursday, 53 percent of people polled said they suspect that the military assessment of the situation will try to make it sound better than it actually is. Forty-three percent said they do trust the report.

CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said he doesn't think the mistrust is directed at Petreaus as much as it is what he represents.

Holland said, "I suspect most people are hearing the words 'general' and 'Iraq' and that's what they're basing their opinion on."

He added, "It does seem to indicate that anyone associated with the Bush administration may be a less than credible messenger for the message that there is progress being made in Iraq."

Another interesting thing about the poll, Holland said, is that it indicates that about half of those surveyed -- 47 percent -- feel that the military is making progress in Iraq, although slightly more -- 49 percent -- do not.

White House press secretary Tony Snow reacted to the poll, saying that he hoped that "people do not try to engage in personal attacks on Gen. Petraeus or Ambassador Crocker."

"David Patraeus is basically the guy who's written the manual on counterinsurgency, and the one thing that you see with returning Democratic and Republican congressman is that something very significant has taken place," Snow said.

How the report is phrased also might determine how it is received, Holland said. If the report details military progress, that might be better received than what political progress the Iraqi government is making.

Twenty-six percent of those polled feel that the Iraqi government is making progress, while 69 percent said that it wasn't.

"We haven't done a lot of polling about the Iraqi government," Holland said, "but the numbers we have seem to indicate that people are pretty skeptical of any government official in Iraq."

The poll indicates that most of America's mind is made up about the war -- 72 percent said the report will have no effect on their view of the war.

Of those opposed to the war, 47 percent said Petreaus' report could not change their mind while 17 percent said it could.

Thirty-three percent said they support the war.

The poll was based on interviews of 1,029 Americans by telephone between August 6 and 8. The sampling error was plus or minus 4.5 percentage points, except for the questions based on the respondents' support or lack of support of the war, which was plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.


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