WASHINGTON (CNN) -- For the first time since the start of the war in Iraq, a majority of Americans surveyed in a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll say the United States made a mistake in sending troops to that country.
Fifty-four percent of those polled said it was a mistake to send U.S. troops to Iraq, compared with 41 percent who expressed that sentiment in early June.
Most respondents to the poll, 55 percent, also said they don't believe the war has made the United States safer from terrorism -- rejecting an argument that President Bush has repeatedly advanced in his rationale for the war.
Kerry, a four-term U.S. senator from Massachusetts, and Bush are essentially tied when poll respondents are asked who would better handle the situation in Iraq.
The poll, based on interviews with 1,005 Americans -- including 521 likely voters -- was conducted by telephone June 21-23.
The margin of error varied by question, from a low of 3 percentage points to 4.5 percentage points.
Looking at the presidential race, the poll found a tie among likely voters: 49 percent for Bush and 48 percent for Kerry.
When poll respondents were asked to consider independent Ralph Nader, the breakdown was: 48 percent for Bush, 47 percent for Kerry and 3 percent for Nader.
The poll found some advantages for Kerry. His favorable rating is higher than Bush's, 58 percent to 53 percent, and it has grown over the past few months as Bush's has fallen.
Kerry also gets higher ratings on who would better handle the economy -- 53 percent of respondents picked the Democrat, while 40 percent selected Bush.
And the economy was identified by more voters, 41 percent, as the most important role for the president -- ahead of both managing the government or acting as commander in chief.
CNN Polling Director Keating Holland contributed to this report