Small majority approves of Obama's Afghanistan plan

Just 51 percent say they agree with the president's decision; there's some good news for him, though


Alex Koppelman
December 4, 2009 5:25AM (UTC)

The poll numbers on President Obama's handling of the war in Afghanistan have been pretty ugly lately. So by comparison, a new poll from Gallup showing that 51 percent of Americans agree with the plan he announced this week actually seems like pretty good news for him.

58 percent of Democrats approve of the president's decision, Gallup found, along with 55 percent of Republicans. The numbers when it came to independents weren't as rosy, however -- just 45 percent said they favor Obama's plan, compared to 44 percent who oppose it.

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Compare that, though, with numbers like ones in a CBS News survey conducted before the announcement that found only 32 percent support for the idea of sending more U.S. troops to Afghanistan and 37 percent against, and things start looking up for Obama.

The difference, Gallup Editor in Chief Frank Newport writes, seems to be attributable to the other decision Obama coupled with the escalation, a July, 2011 date to begin the withdrawal of U.S. troops.

"When asked earlier about just sending troops, Democrats were much less likely than Republicans to be in favor. Now, in response to the new question asking specifically about Obama's multipart strategy, including references to increasing troops and to the timetable, Democrats and Republicans show similar levels of support," Newport says.

"Obama's new policy has managed to bridge the pre-existing partisan gap on this issue to some degree, bringing the support levels of Democrats and Republicans closer together. This is an unusual situation. Most major policy initiatives that a president promulgates find support among the president's own party and opposition among the other party. In the current situation, Obama has, at least in the short term, generated majority support among Democrats -- who previously had been opposed to a troop increase in Afghanistan -- while holding on to majority support among Republicans."


Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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