Poll: Support Wanes For U.S Troop Presence in Afghanistan

Posted: Apr 19, 2012 9:52 AM

According to a recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, American support for the war in Afghanistan has reached a new low. The Los Angeles Times reports:

The poll, taken from April 4 to 15, found a decline of support among independents, Republicans and Democrats.

Notably for the U.S. political parties, it shows nearly as much erosion among voters who say their presidential choice is still undecided as among those who are committed to voting for President Obama.

The survey, of 1,494 adults, showed that 59% of swing voters now support a rapid troop pullout, compared with the 65% among committed Obama voters.

American support for withdrawal has grown because of a sense that after 10 years, the multibillion-dollar effort is failing to stabilize Afghanistan, several polls have shown. There has also been growing dismay among Americans with the Afghan government, which is seen as corrupt and anti-American despite its heavy reliance on U.S. tax dollars.

To be sure, Mitt Romney has rebuked President Obama’s decision to set a timetable for withdrawal in Afghanistan. On one occasion, he labeled the policy “naïve” and “misguided.” Yet, according to the study, nearly half of Republicans want to see the war come to an end.

For the first time in a Pew survey, the results showed that as many Republicans favor removing the troops as soon as possible (48%) as support keeping them there until the situation is stabilized (45%). As recently as a month ago, 53% of Republicans favored keeping the troops there longer, while 41% wanted a quick withdrawal.

Thirty-eight percent say the effort is going very well or fairly well, while almost half (49%) say it is going not too well or not at all well.

Of course, nearly every survey conducted over the last year shows Americans are overwhelmingly concerned about the economy and unemployment. What’s more, according to a recent Gallup poll, only 1 percent of voters think the situation/war in Afghanistan is the most important non-economic issue facing the nation. Still, the tragic killing of 16 Afghan villagers by a US soldier last month is perhaps only the latest explanation for why the public is growing increasingly disillusioned with the conflict. And why most Americans – and a plurality of Republicans – want to bring our troops home now.