Six in 10 Americans say the United States should have stayed out of Iraq and more than three in four say things are going badly there -- including nearly half who say things are going very badly, the poll found.
Still, the majority of Americans support continuing to fund the war as long as the Iraqi government meets specific goals.
President approval ratings remain near the lowest of his more than six years in office. Thirty percent approve of the job he is doing overall, while 63 percent disapprove. The majority of those polled disapprove of Bush's handling of the situation in Iraq, foreign policy, immigration, the economy and the campaign against terrorism.
More Americans -- 72 percent -- now say that "generally things in the country are seriously off on the wrong track" than at any time since the Times/CBS News poll began asking the question in 1983. The percentage had been in the high 60s earlier this year.
The poll made clear that the war continues to be the issue Americans are most worried about. Sixty-one percent of the poll's respondents now say the United States never should have taken military action against Iraq, up from 51 percent in a CBS News poll in April and 58 percent in the same poll in January. Seventy-six percent say things are going badly in the effort to bring stability and order to Iraq, including 47 percent who say they are going very badly.
The nationwide telephone poll was conducted Friday through Wednesday with 1,125 adults. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.
A majority of the public -- 76 percent, including a majority of Republicans -- say the additional troops sent to Iraq this year by Bush have either had no impact or are making things worse in Iraq. Twenty percent think the increase is improving the situation in Iraq.
A majority of Americans continue to support a timetable for withdrawal. Sixty-three percent say the United States should set a date for withdrawing troops from Iraq sometime in 2008.
While troops are still there, the overwhelming majority of Americans support continued funding of the war, though most want to do so with conditions. Thirteen percent want Congress to block all funding for the war. The majority, 69 percent, including 62 percent of Republicans, say Congress should allow funding, but on the condition that the United States sets benchmarks for progress and the Iraqi government meets those goals. Fifteen percent of all respondents want Congress to allow all funding for the war no matter what.
The poll found that Americans are more likely to trust the Democratic Party than the Republican Party to make the right decisions about the war in Iraq. For the first time, more than half of those polled, 51 percent, said that the Democratic Party was more likely than the Republican Party to make the right decisions about the war in Iraq.
More broadly, Americans have a more favorable view of the Democratic Party than of the Republican Party. Fifty-three percent say they have a favorable opinion of the Democratic Party, while 38 percent, have a favorable view of the Republican Party. The Republican Party has not had a majority positive rating in New York Times/CBS News polls since December 2003.
As for Bush, 23 percent approve of his handling of the situation in Iraq, 72 percent disapprove; 25 percent approve of his handling of foreign policy, 66 percent disapprove; and 27 percent approve of his handling of immigration issues, while 60 percent disapprove. On the economy, 38 percent approve of his handling of the issue, and on the campaign against terrorism 40 percent approve, matching his career low on the issue.