CNN Poll: Afghanistan war arguably most unpopular in U.S. history
December 30th, 2013
06:00 AM ET
11 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 Just over half would rather see U.S. troops withdrawn earlier than December 2014.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. Leo

    It's about time we end this war, just wasting Tax dollars.

    December 30, 2013 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  2. Justin

    We've nearly lost as many of our boys as we lost citizens in 911..........for what?

    December 30, 2013 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  3. Jay David

    Bringing Afghanistan out of the Middle Ages was always a long shot. But in 2003 when Bush abandoned our troops in Afghanistan with no mission, no leadership and no strategy, this guaranteed that every US soldier who died in Afghanistan would be throwing her or his life away on the trash heap of History. And Obama has been monumentally stupid to stay the course and make the Bush disaster into to what is now the Obama disaster.

    December 30, 2013 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  4. Quixote

    Two things to remember...

    .first, we and NATO went to war in Afghanistan because that is where the actual 9/11 terrorists were from. So we actually had a good reason to be there. It is where bin laden and al qaeda were based.

    Second, the Afghanistan war would have ended in 2004 if bush and the conservative republicon establishment did not see the terrorist attacks of 9/11 as the perfect decoy to start their war in Iraq. Iraq drained the resources and manpower needed to end the justified war against terrorists to be used in an illegal war based on lies fought for no discernible reason. We SHOULD have been done militarily in Afghanistan a decade ago, but the bungling incompetence of republicon foreign policy left this mess, along with so many others, to be cleaned up by a responsible Democratic administration.

    December 30, 2013 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  5. Grinning Libber

    Thanks Shrub

    December 30, 2013 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  6. curt29

    Unfortunately, these types of military operations aren't as flexible as the publics opinion.

    December 30, 2013 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  7. frank

    that is the opposition now that Obama has mishandled the war...like he does with everything else!

    December 30, 2013 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  8. insecurious

    Afghanistan is the most unpopular war...Is there any war that is popular??

    December 30, 2013 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  9. Conrad Miller

    "Most unpopular?" You have data from the Revolution, Civil War and Philippine Insurrection to support this?

    December 30, 2013 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  10. Thomas

    One of the problems was that we lost the objective of the war.
    Was it to get UBL?
    Was it to eliminate the Taliban
    Was it to bring "democracy" to AFG?

    The AF conflict was an example of mission creep.
    It must be hard to look a Mother/Father/Son/Daughter in the eye and tell them "I don't really know why your loved one had to die in AFG."

    December 30, 2013 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  11. Mark

    Please tell me this comes as no surprise to anyone...

    December 30, 2013 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  12. Jack 63

    367 more days Mr Biden.

    December 30, 2013 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  13. BrianMemphis

    And more have died under Obama's leadership than Bush. If Bush is to be blamed, let's see condemnation for the current president.

    December 30, 2013 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  14. Rachel

    I can understand going into that cesspool to get the terrorists who murdered over 3,000 innocent American on 9/11. However, I am sick of seeing our young people murdered and maimed for nothing. These people are not going to change their culture is to maim and kill the infidels. Let them stay in the 14th century. I feel a bit sad for the women in that part of the world but they don't know the difference. We cannot take the animal out of the middle east.

    December 30, 2013 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  15. cbp

    Of course we want to leave Afghanistan. This has dragged on far too long. Troops were sent to Iraq to topple Hussein instead of finishing the mission in Afghanistan. By the time we returned we had an even bigger mess to contend with. President Obama was handed all of this after the last administration failed to finish what they started. We are finding that this area of the world is not welcoming us with open arms. In fact many people there want us out. The last administration did not realize just how many factions they were going to meet and all had different ideas about what should happen to the country. The women who had won some freedom are finding that it is being taken away again.

    December 30, 2013 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  16. Jenny

    You know this country is vicious when they take a poll to find out which of our many wars is the most unpopular.

    December 30, 2013 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  17. Just

    The USA should never enter the midieval east again as those countries are beyond any improvement.

    December 30, 2013 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  18. Dave

    Americans are just sick of wasting tax dollars on Bush's nation building policies.

    December 30, 2013 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  19. Kevin Avis

    Pull out the troops now...

    December 30, 2013 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  20. 1alien1

    the whole country of afghanistan is not worth 1 more american life. it is and always will be a cesspool

    December 30, 2013 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  21. Bill

    Unpopular because even a layman can see that there is no economy available for that place to have a chance to pull itself out of the stone age.
    Nor can you expect to win against an enemy that says they love death more than you love life.

    December 30, 2013 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  22. Anonymous

    Obama's war unpopular? hmm i thought this was the one the liberal hypocrites wanted?

    December 30, 2013 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  23. Not Surprised

    Obama was going to get us out of there. What Happened ???

    Obama's U S troop deaths in Afghanistan are more than double Bush's in less time.
    He shouldn't have gotten rid of the general who knew what he was doing.

    December 30, 2013 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  24. William R. Hill

    Great powers throughout history have invaded Afghanistan, including Great Britain, Russia and the U.S. most recently. They're all gone except the U.S., and Afghanistan is and will remain as it has always been. Like the others who blundered into this bottomless pitt, we have not, nor will we, accomplish anything but wasting American lives and vast amounts of money. As Eisenhower said, beware the military-industrial complex. If they don't keep a war going somewhere, they lose their power over the budget.

    December 30, 2013 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  25. catori Shadi

    Strange that a war, to go after the originator of the 9/11 attacks should be less popular than the second war in Iraq, which was entirely "justified" entirely by lies.

    Whether it was mismanaged or US presence should have been curtailed after the death of OBL is a different matter. But I fail to see how it was a bad thing to go after someone responsible for 2,996 murders.

    December 30, 2013 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
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