Bush Disapproval Rating on Iraq Exceeds 50% in Poll (Update1) Nov. 7 (Bloomberg) -- For the first time since the war that toppled Saddam Hussein, a majority of Americans disapproves of how U.S. President George W. Bush is handling the situation in Iraq, a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll published today shows. At the same time, backing for the deployment of troops in Iraq grew, a change Gallup attributes to a rally of support for the armed forces after an escalation of attacks by anti-coalition insurgents. The three-day poll that began Monday followed Sunday's downing of a U.S. helicopter in which 16 soldiers died in the worst postwar attack on the coalition. Fifty-four percent of the 1,007 adults surveyed said they disapprove of how Bush is handling Iraq, Gallup said on its Web site. Forty-five percent approve. Last month, 50 percent disapproved and 47 percent approved. The poll is the latest to indicate increasing public skepticism of Bush's attempts to stabilize Iraq and establish a new government following the war that began in March. Bush, who aims to retain the presidency for the Republicans in next year's election, said U.S. troops won't withdraw and that Iraqi freedom would be a ``watershed event.'' Respondents were evenly split on whether U.S. troops should leave Iraq, with 49 percent saying troop levels should be maintained or increased and 48 percent saying they should be reduced or the troops withdrawn completely. The poll by Gallup echoes the findings of a Harris Interactive poll released yesterday that showed an erosion in confidence for U.S. policy in Iraq and Bush's handling of the situation. Bush's approval rating in the Harris poll dropped to 41 percent, down from 47 percent last month. Blaming Bush Bush's positive ratings over Iraq were at their height after Hussein's regime fell in April, when 76 percent of those polled by Gallup approved of his handling of the situation and 21 percent disapproved. The decline in Bush's approval rating over Iraq has paralleled public opinion of how well the war is going, ``suggesting the public blames the president for the problems,'' Gallup said. Asked how the postwar period is going for the U.S., 61 percent of those polled said ``badly'' and 38 percent said ``well,'' compared with a 58 percent-42 percent split last month. Bush's overall job performance rating hasn't suffered over Iraq, with 54 percent of those polled approving and 43 percent disapproving, a 1-point increase over last month in those approving. Poll results have also remained stable from last month on whether the Iraq war was worthwhile, with 54 percent agreeing and 44 percent disagreeing. The latest Gallup poll, conducted by telephone, has a margin of error of 3 percentage points.