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Dec 17th, 2009

Poll: Americans Skeptical of Afghan Surge

Obama’s marks improve, but speech doesn’t sway support for war strategy

Image: United States Marines in Afghanistan
A new poll shows Americans remain against sending more troops to Afghanistan. The findings underscore what has seemingly become the public’s position on President Obama during his first year in office: People like him, but they’re squeamish about his policy. (Photo credit: Kevin Frayer / AP file)

Dec. 16, 2009

WASHINGTON — Americans like seeing President Barack Obama finally tackle Afghanistan – even if most don’t support his plans.

The latest Associated Press-GfK poll shows the president’s marks for handling the 8-year-old war have jumped by double digits — more than half now approve — since he capped a three-month strategy review by announcing a big troop increase. He said he would boost U.S. forces in Afghanistan to 100,000 — and begin bringing them home in July 2011.

But despite his prime-time TV speech explaining how he reached his decision, there was no change in the public’s resistance to escalation. Just 42 percent favor sending more troops while 56 percent oppose it, essentially unchanged from November.

The findings suggest limits to Obama’s persuasive skills — and underscore what’s seemingly become the public’s default position in his first year in office: People like him, but they’re squeamish about his policy. …

Afghan war still unpopular

Overall, most people — and most of Obama’s fellow Democrats — don’t think Afghanistan is a conflict worth fighting. But Obama is pressing ahead despite such polling. …

Since November, the president has completed a lengthy review of his Afghanistan policy and announced he will nearly triple the force he inherited in the country, at a cost of $30 billion for the first year alone. He mapped out the strategy and explained his decision in a prime-time speech at the U.S. Military Academy. He said a drawdown would begin in 18 months, but he set no target date for ending the war.

Obama’s approval rating on Afghanistan stands at 52 percent — up a whopping 10 percentage points from November — while the percentage of those who disapprove dropped to 40 percent from 48 percent. Obama has improved his standing among members of both major political parties; 70 percent of Democrats and 39 percent of Republicans now approve of his handling of Afghanistan, increases of nine and 19 points, respectively, from last month.

Even so, only 39 percent of Americans overall favor the Afghanistan war, while 57 percent oppose it — roughly unchanged over the past six months.

The AP-GfK Poll was conducted Dec. 10-14 [2009] by GfK Roper Public Affairs and Media. It involved landline and cell phone interviews of 1,001 adults nationwide, and it has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.


Related reports on this site

Obama 2010 Afghanistan War Strategy Review (Dec. 16, 2010)

Afghan Price Tag Equals Health Care Reform Cost (Dec. 7, 2009)

Obama 2009 Afghanistan War Strategy Review (Oct. 3, 2009)


FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago — December 17, 2008

Image: Traffic policeman wounded in Baghdad bombing
A traffic policeman who was wounded in a bomb attack is treated at a Baghdad hospital Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2008. (Photo credit: Atef Hassan / Reuters)

Bush Shoe-Hurler Sparks Chaos

Image: Iraqi protestors hold up a shoe
Khalil Al-Murshidi / AFP — Getty Images

One-year retrospective: One year ago today, I reported that the speaker of Iraq’s parliament, Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, announced his resignation after a parliamentary session descended into chaos as lawmakers argued about whether to free a journalist who had thrown his shoes at President George W. Bush; that Vice President Dick Cheney, in an interview with ABC News, attempted to justify the decision to invade Iraq; that a double-bombing targeting traffic police in Baghdad killed at least 18 people and wounded 52; and that Iraq’s Minister of Science and Technology escaped injury in a car bomb explosion that appeared to be an assassination attempt.

7 Responses to “Public Opinion on Afghan Surge”
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