CNN Poll: Afghanistan war arguably most unpopular in U.S. history
December 30th, 2013
06:00 AM ET
10 months ago

CNN Poll: Afghanistan war arguably most unpopular in U.S. history

Washington (CNN) – Support for the war in Afghanistan has dipped below 20%, according to a new national poll, making the country's longest military conflict arguably its most unpopular one as well.

The CNN/ORC International survey released Monday also indicates that a majority of Americans would like to see U.S. troops pull out of Afghanistan before the December 2014 deadline.

Just 17% of those questioned say they support the 12-year-long war, down from 52% in December 2008. Opposition to the conflict now stands at 82%, up from 46% five years ago.

"Those numbers show the war in Afghanistan with far less support than other conflicts," CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said. "Opposition to the Iraq war never got higher than 69% in CNN polling while U.S. troops were in that country, and while the Vietnam War was in progress, no more than six in 10 ever told Gallup's interviewers that war was a mistake."

The U.S. timetable for Afghanistan calls for the removal of nearly all troops by roughly this time next year, and that can't come fast enough for the vast majority of Americans. Just over half would rather see U.S. troops withdrawn earlier than December 2014. Only a quarter say that America should still have boots on the ground in Afghanistan after that deadline.

Fifty-seven percent say the conflict is going badly for the U.S. and only a third say America is winning the war in Afghanistan.

"Independents have a much gloomier view of the war in Afghanistan than Republicans or Democrats," Holland said. "That may be because a Republican president started the war and a Democratic president has continued it, so there may be some residual support among people who identify with either party."

Some 2,300 U.S. troops have been killed in Afghanistan since the war began in the autumn of 2001. The U.S. is quickly drawing down its forces in Afghanistan. If a bilateral security agreement that would keep up to 10,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan after the end of 2014 isn't signed in the near future, the U.S. could withdrawal all forces from Afghanistan at the end of next year.

The poll was conducted for CNN by ORC International between December 16 and 19, with 1,035 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

The discontent evident in the CNN poll is also seen in two other national surveys conducted earlier this month. Two-thirds of those questioned in an ABC News/Washington Post poll said the war has not been worth fighting, and an Associated Press/GfK survey showed 57% saying the U.S. did the wrong thing in going to war in Afghanistan.

CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.


Filed under: Afghanistan • CNN/ORC International poll • Polls
soundoff (202 Responses)
  1. Steve

    Strange, it was the Iraq war that they lied about WMD's. One would think for all the thousands of people killed under false pretenses it would be the least popular war. Afghanistan supported the terrorists and the taliban responsible for 9/11.

    December 30, 2013 06:32 am at 6:32 am |
  2. Gurgyl

    Which war is popular? You got to be idiotic. Is Iraq war? Is Vietnam war? GOP policy of war, looting drained this nation. We don't need wars, we need Education, infrastructure, green energy, tightened immigration etc. Look at influx, where is the guarantee another Russia incident happen? We believe every one, it is the problem. Tighten immigration, stop out benefit robbery from these India guys. God bless.

    December 30, 2013 06:33 am at 6:33 am |
  3. derekq

    simply the reason why u dont support the war is because you do not understand religion and are atheists. As i do not support violence. THe war needs to take place to usher in end time events and prophecies. That is something you will not escape :D.

    December 30, 2013 06:40 am at 6:40 am |
  4. Chris Asking Question

    Then why are we still there?

    December 30, 2013 06:41 am at 6:41 am |
  5. KEVIN

    We are out of there and they are going to fight amoungst themselves. They need to pray to God that they can keep the fighting contained within their borders because our rules of war are going to change. No more conventional war. Expediant mass genocide.

    December 30, 2013 06:44 am at 6:44 am |
  6. Chris

    Meanwhile, Obama continues to hand over "paper sacks" full of millions of dollars every week to Afghan's President as a pay off for something, but what?

    December 30, 2013 06:46 am at 6:46 am |
  7. Dave Green

    The sad truth is, our enemies know us far better than we know them. They said this would happen 13 years ago. "All we have to do is outlast the American public." Just prior to this war, 90% of Americans agreed with it. Now it's 17%. We've changed everything about who we are as people as well. Exactly what terrorism is designed to do.

    Don't get me wrong, I don't want us there either. In fact, I would propose pulling out of the middle east completely, which is supposedly all they want, with a promise. Fine, we're out of here, but if you attack us again in any way, shape or form, we will crush you. At least then, we wouldn't have to play this half hearted political game, where they play victim and we look stupid. Time to give them enough rope to hang themselves OR prove they want peace.

    December 30, 2013 06:50 am at 6:50 am |
  8. bdby

    We got what we came for and that was Bin Laden's head. It is time to leave that desolate country to its own accord to do what they want. Trying to introduce democracy to stone age people is like striking yourself in the head with lead pipe and repeating "This feels good" after each strike.

    December 30, 2013 06:50 am at 6:50 am |
  9. Guest

    But Obama said that was the war worth fighting.....

    December 30, 2013 06:55 am at 6:55 am |
  10. Todd Evans

    Your anti-Obama slanted CNN poll result "news" updates have caused me to remove the CNN app from my phone. I'm an anti-war liberal and even I know that generals end wars, not popular opinion. Your poll results are irrelevant.

    December 30, 2013 07:02 am at 7:02 am |
  11. Cheerios

    This is predictable. When the world's most powerful nation is incapable of defeating a 12th century band of goat herders armed with nothing more than AKs and RPGs......something is wrong. Only a nation of fools could be convinced anyone should be in A-stan. But never fear everyone...very soon we will be hearing delusional storys about what a great victory this was, yet wonder why the Taliban is resurgent and that muppet Karzai has no real power.

    December 30, 2013 07:04 am at 7:04 am |
  12. Yeah Right

    Support our troups.......bring them all home.... NOW

    December 30, 2013 07:09 am at 7:09 am |
  13. humtake

    Same thing as any other American war. If we go in guns blazing and missiles firing and destroy our opponents quickly, America likes the war. If it's a long, drawn out war that has lots of moving wheels and doesn't impact us, Americans hate it. Americans just want instant gratification and want the bragging rights so they can be elitist to the rest of the world by shoving it in their faces that we are so big and bad. The war is doing a lot of good, although I wouldn't call it a war. It's more like a sustained effort of integration.

    December 30, 2013 07:11 am at 7:11 am |
  14. MightyMoo

    I'd say it's the worst one in that it could have been handled much more responsibly and ended quicker. America got distracted with Iraq and that is what really ruined it I think.

    December 30, 2013 07:16 am at 7:16 am |
  15. Paul Bearer

    I can not understand why this administration is negotiating a continued presence in Afghanistan with so little support. This is supposed to be a democracy,

    December 30, 2013 07:20 am at 7:20 am |
  16. Brad

    Bring them home..........

    December 30, 2013 07:21 am at 7:21 am |
  17. MD

    CNN should revisit history for the "Arguably most unpopular war" claim. They didn't do a comparison to the Spanish American War when the US Troops occupied the Philippines from 1898 into early 1920's. I think the war was more unpopular due to atrocities against the Philippine civilians than the US involvement with Vietnam for the time.

    December 30, 2013 07:23 am at 7:23 am |
  18. Bob

    Bush's fault for getting in and then not getting out within his term. 13 years is way too long to be in a country where the Taliban will never stop in their pursuit to drag the country back centuries. Karzai is a puppet and the Taliban know that. They will attack as soon as we are gone and will destroy everything we have set up during the last decade. What an exercise in pure vain. When will the US govt and military-industrial complex ever learn?

    December 30, 2013 07:27 am at 7:27 am |
  19. opinion8it

    Why are we still there? WHY???

    December 30, 2013 07:28 am at 7:28 am |
  20. The Realist

    This was a fools errand from the very get-go.

    George Bush was, and still is, a complete idiot.

    What exactly were we supposed to be fighting for?

    If we wanted to wipe out Islamic fanaticism, we should have bombed Saudi Arabia.

    Those are the primitive, superstitious, barbaric, scum who gave us 9/11 aren't they?

    December 30, 2013 07:29 am at 7:29 am |
  21. A Lincoln

    Finally! Was afraid the Civil War was still the most unpopular. Now we're getting some traction, movin' on up! Hmmm, but then there's the Revolutionary War, that was no picnic either. Well at least Vietnam finally gets to rest as being the most unpopular. You had a good run but now it's time for someone else to take the spotlight. Musn't be piggy.

    So glad we have CNN to tell us which wars were our most favorite and which ones were not. That is some fine reporting.

    To be filed under, Who Cares?

    December 30, 2013 07:32 am at 7:32 am |
  22. PtBarnumBoy

    Is there a war going on in Afghanistan? I seem to remember us going over there many years ago but surely we arn't still there are we??

    December 30, 2013 07:36 am at 7:36 am |
  23. Marty

    Americans sound ungrateful + ignorant in this article – we are a safer nation because of the effort of our military in Afghanistan. Still, I would hope we could find Mullah Omar before we depart. Last thing we want is for him to come out of hiding when we leave and "proclaim victory over the invading infidels" and gain even more support for a resurgent Taliban.

    December 30, 2013 07:42 am at 7:42 am |
  24. gary

    what an ignorant bungle is Afghan invasion ... US wastes so much blood and money on war ... We are Toast.

    December 30, 2013 07:42 am at 7:42 am |
  25. kevin flannigan

    Oh, we are still there? I thought we pulled out, shows you how much attention I pay to it

    December 30, 2013 07:47 am at 7:47 am |
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