PRINCETON, N.J. -- A large majority in a new Gallup Poll -- 74 percent -- said Congress should be involved if war breaks out in the Persian Gulf, the polling organization said yesterday. Only 22 percent said the president should be able to go to war without congressional approval.
The poll also said 65 percent of Americans supported President Bush's original decision to send troops to the Persian Gulf to halt a possible Iraqi attack on Saudi Arabia, but only 47 percent approved of his recent decision to send at least an additional 150,000 troops to the region.
Sixty-five percent of those polled said the United States should keep its forces in and near Saudi Arabia as long as needed to prevent an Iraqi invasion.
But only 37 percent said Washington should initiate a war "to drive the Iraqis out of Kuwait" if the current situation in the Middle East does not change by January, and only 28 percent said the United States should launch a war at any time for that purpose.
Thus, depending on how alternatives are phrased, from 28 percent to 37 percent of those polled were ready to take military action against Iraq without further provocation. This group of respondents was more likely to be male than female, white than black, and Republican than Democratic.
The poll also found a continuing deterioration in the approval level of President Bush's performance. Only 54 percent of those polled approved of how Mr. Bush had dealt with the crisis, down from 80 percent in early August and from a 61 percent approval rating last week.
Respondents were asked to explain their views of U.S. involvement in their own words. Self-interest continued to be the No. 1 response; defending U.S. oil and national interests was the response of 38 percent; to stop Iraqi aggression, 23 percent.
The results of the poll, conducted Nov. 15-18, were based on telephone interviews with a national sample of 1,018 adults and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.