Image: U.S. soldiers, right, take position along with an Iraqi soldier, left.
Joe Raedle  /  Getty Images
U.S. Army soldiers of the 1st Cavalry, Task Force 1-9, right, take a defensive position along with an Iraqi soldier, left, in the Haifa Street neighborhood of Baghdad on Thursday.
updated 2/25/2005 7:14:08 AM ET 2005-02-25T12:14:08

A majority of Americans now say they believe U.S. troops will have to stay in Iraq for at least two more years, compared with 44 percent of people who felt that way last summer, a poll released Thursday finds.

The Jan. 30 elections in Iraq appear to have improved perceptions in the United States about the possibility of a stable Iraq, according to a poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. But that has not convinced the public that U.S. troops are coming home any sooner.

The poll found that 54 percent of those surveyed think U.S. troops will have to stay in Iraq for two more years, while 22 percent put the time at longer than five years.

Also, 47 percent said they think the elections will make Iraq more stable, compared with 29 percent who felt that way in January. Some 55 percent of those questioned think that U.S. troops should stay in Iraq until the country is stabilized.

Fifty-two percent say they do not think the Iraqi elections have increased the likelihood that other countries in the Middle East will become more democratic.

The poll found that President Bush’s overall approval rate was 46 percent, compared with 50 percent in January. Bush’s approval rate on Iraq was 40 percent, compared with 45 percent in January.

The Pew poll of 1,502 adults was taken Feb. 16-21. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.

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