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Mccain's Risky Iraq Stance

Josh Marshall has a wise rundown of the flap of the day, which is John McCain's statement that "it's not too important" how long we stay in Iraq so long as we get casualties down. (McCain camp response here.)

In light of that, I checked in on recent public opinion about the war. And what strikes me is that, despite growing opinion among many journalists and policy experts that conditions in Iraq are showing marked improvement (though still far from "success"), the public doesn't see things that way. Indeed a June 3 CBS poll shows that the percentage of Americans who think the war is going "very well" or "somewhat well" has dropped from 43 percent in March to 35 percent. 

One bright spot for McCain might be a mid-May Rasmussen poll which found that 49 percent of voters think "victory" in Iraq is very or somewhat likely if McCain is elected. But that would seem to be outweighed by another response: When asked to choose between winning the war and getting all troops home within four years, withdrawal wins by a 52-39 margin. If victory in Iraq is going to be at the core of McCain's campaign, that is a mighty steep climb.

P.S. According to an April 9 AP/Ipsos poll, a horrifying 42 percent of Americans still believe or are unsure whether Saddam Hussein had a direct hand in the 9/11 attacks.

--Michael Crowley