Americans Overwhelmingly Back Obama’s Afghanistan Drawdown Plan

It got criticism from the right, but the American public seems pretty pleased with the President’s plan to start withdrawing troops from Afghanistan:

An overwhelming majority of Americans support President Barack Obama’s plan to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, according to a new poll released Wednesday.

In the Gallup survey, 72 percent of Americans say they back Obama’s overall plan to withdraw 33,000 troops in the next year or so and then hand over control of Afghanistan to the Afghan people by the end of 2014. Twenty-three percent oppose it.

Backing for the long-term plan is weaker among Republicans, with 50 percent favoring the plan while 43 percent oppose it, the poll found.

Meanwhile, 30 percent of Americans agree with the president’s timetable to withdraw from Afghanistan, 33 percent say the withdrawal should happen faster, and 31 percent say there should not be a set timetable for withdrawal. Support for Obama’s timetable is strongest among Democrats — 45 percent approve — while 27 percent of independents and 19 percent of Republicans back it.

Republicans are most strongly in favor of there being no timetable for withdrawal, with 54 percent saying that’s the preferred course for the Afghan War. Thirteen percent of Democrats and 29 percent of independents agree.

Of those surveyed, 43 percent say Obama’s planned withdrawal is about the right size. But opposition to his plan is sizeable, too. Twenty-nine percent of those surveyed say his plan brings home too few from Afghanistan in the next 15 months, while 19 percent say he’s bringing home too many. Another 10 percent have no opinion.

These numbers are mirrored in a new CBS News/New York Times poll:

About four in 5 Americans approve of President Obama’s plan to bring troops home from Afghanistan and more than half would approve an even bigger withdrawal, a new CBS News/New York Times Poll finds.

In the survey, conducted between June 24-28, Americans overwhelmingly expressed their approval of Mr. Obama’s announcement last week that he intends to withdraw about a third of the 100,000 U.S. troops stationed in Afghanistan by the fall of 2012. According to the poll, 79 percent of Americans – including a majority of Republicans, Democrats, and independents – approved, while just 17 percent disapproved.

In fact, most Americans do not think Mr. Obama’s proposed troop withdrawal goes far enough. Fifty-nine percent of Americans think even more than the proposed one-third of U.S. troops in Afghanistan should be withdrawn.

Still, for the first time since Mr. Obama took office, a majority (53 percent) of Americans say the Afghanistan conflict is going well. In March, only 44 percent of Americans said the same – a figure which was at the time outweighed by the 49 percent of those who said they thought things were going badly.

But while most Americans expressed confidence that the war in Afghanistan is now going well, they appear ambivalent about America’s mission there. Fifty-eight percent of Americans say the U.S. should not be involved in Afghanistan, the highest percentage recorded since the question was first asked in September 2009. Only thirty-five percent of Americans said they thought the U.S. was doing the “right thing” there.

Not surprisingly, really, since public opinion on the war had soured months ago. What this suggests, though, is that Obama will be able to pull this off without much risk of it hurting him politically.


FILED UNDER: Afghanistan War, Asia, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics, World Politics, , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Dr. Goldfoot says:

    With as ponderously slow as changes in the U.S. economy usually are, this is probably his best move to regain general support of indepenents for the next election. I sit firmly on the right and I , and many of my friends, even agree with pulling our troops home. We are engaged in hostilities in 5 different countries, one has to ask at this point, why? Are they going to launch an assault from outside of our borders… not likely.

  2. Dr. Goldfoot says:

    Sorry 6 verified countries, apparently we are using drone strikes in somalia now.