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 Just over half would rather see U.S. troops withdrawn earlier than December 2014.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

    So much for the war on terrah...

    December 30, 2013 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  2. Brian from DC

    Another gift that keeps giving from George W. Bush! Thank goodness that Mitt Romney isn't President or we'd be at war with Iran now too.

    December 30, 2013 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  3. RickN

    For me it comes down to the feeling that Afghanistan is a lost cause. They're living in the 15th century and seem to not want to change. The only think I'd do is organize an exodus for the women and their children that want to live in a modern country somewhere else in the world. This would be a global effort, not just the U.S. Let the men stay there and kill each other over religion. The war can't be won by us because the enemy are locals who will never stop fighting. It's pure folly to think they ever will.

    December 30, 2013 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  4. prefer peace

    I didn't know you could rate war as "popular" or "unpopular". Wonder what a popular war would look like .

    December 30, 2013 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  5. Nathan

    I think Vietnam was more unpopular ; i came home from Nam in 1970; just turned 20 yrs old; we were called baby killers; etc............somehow the purple heart and bronze star did not mean much

    December 30, 2013 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  6. Hard Drinkin' Lincoln

    Since 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers were Saudis, can we expect a US led assault on Riyadh anytime soon? Oh, that's right, they're our 'friends' and 'allies'. That and we pay them off to play nice with Israel. Not to mention the estimated trillions of mineral wealth on Afghan soil – not about to walk away from that now, are 'we'?

    December 30, 2013 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  7. Mccainfrenchfry

    All war is unpopular!

    December 30, 2013 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  8. Brad

    I have only three little words – Bring Them Home!

    December 30, 2013 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  9. Jon

    If true, its because the Commander and Congress have done nothing to justify why its still ongoing. They rarely talk about it. The media rarely reports it or questions the govt about it. Meanwhile hundreds of americans still fight and die there, forgotten. Oh but hey, whats up with that reality talk show guy?

    December 30, 2013 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  10. hui wang

    I have not seen any war get support over 50%.. But why the politicians still give big money every year to the national defence budget. Fighting terrorst we do not need 10 aircarriers and steal bombers B2, B1, F22 and F35. . We we need is is a small fast response force and good intelegent team.

    December 30, 2013 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  11. Chris

    In both Iraq and Afghanistan the Army has achieved every goal set for us by the American people so stop calling them defeats. We won, it is not pretty it does not have a bow on it but there are two democracy's standing in the middles east now. Do both countries have internal fight, yes but few countries in the area don't . Don't take what we fought for away from us because you didn't like the politics. It is ugly but the job we were asked to do is done!

    December 30, 2013 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  12. penguin

    Perhaps we should have a National vote on whether we should be at war. Indeed we could vote on many other social issues such as the ACA and tax rates. Both parties monontously use the mantra "the people want-". Well then, we should have the people vote on these issues. That would be a real democracy

    December 30, 2013 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  13. Michael Means

    Understandable now that Bin Laden has been killed, however, at least there was a reason for going into Afghanistan. Iraq? We still have no clue why we invaded Iraq. First it was WMD's, then supposedly Al Qaeda, then to free the people from an oppressive regime...

    December 30, 2013 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  14. steve coster

    But it is such good training....

    December 30, 2013 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  15. Smitty

    So why are we still there ???

    December 30, 2013 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  16. Tim Gray

    That is bizarre. Short of WWII, no other war in US history was as just as the war in Afghanistan. But I digress. However, I meet and know a lot of people, liberal, conservative, and I have never, ever heard a negative remark about the war there. Iraq, lots, but Afghanistan. The only person that is against the war is the one guy keeping us there. Personally though, I think the poll is made up junk trying to guide the populace the way you want them

    December 30, 2013 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  17. Haha

    This just proves how dumb Americans are. If they didn't vote for Vietnam....then they have no idea what they're talking about.

    December 30, 2013 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  18. Chaos

    If Bush (and his blindly following supporters) had not led us in to the biggest military blunder in American history and put so much of our resources and will into Iraq, Afghanistan could have been dealt with correctly once and for all. The blame lies squarely on Republicans and conservatives.

    December 30, 2013 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  19. Compaq715

    This wasn't a war this is a political action . There was no goals to acheive just waste american lives as cheap as possible.

    Just like Vietnam afraid of what other people think.

    December 30, 2013 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  20. Pete

    Anyone with any intelligence can't compare these two wars..Vietnam was a useless political war from the start ,a war we needlessly got into back in the early 50s with Eisenhower with our troops as interventionalists to help protect another countrys best corporate interest as with France against N.Vietnamese guerillas who if you do research backed out and ran home to France with their tails between their legs as usual..Afghanistan was just another in a bad deal that the Bushs administration left after Iraq as part 2 and again both of these useless wars should of never started as well..We have to assess future problems overseas like we did with Syria before getting over our heads again because it is costly move and then with no help from other outside countrys we always get stuck holding the bag so to speak...No winners or anything material ever came out of any of these wars except death,destruction and these two losing ventures just show you that..The only winners were the suppliers to the MIC who made billions in selling military hardware at tax payers expense and the funeral homes who recieved our dead...

    December 30, 2013 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  21. Dead bear

    It's gone on too long, cost too much money, and achieved NOTHING... End the war in Afghanistan NOW!!!

    December 30, 2013 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  22. John

    "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."

    That is not the reason. Independents, by definition, think for themselves. And thinking people see the flaws in this. This war was begun of necessity and moral purpose, but it should have ended at Tora Bora in December 2001. And after that, it could have ended almost any time we chose had we not divided our forces to take on Iraq at the same time. By now it seems pointless to continue there at all in just about any capacity. I feel for the women and children there, but it is just time the ones who need to do it just rise up and cut off the beards (and heads) of their sleeping Talibani husbands.

    December 30, 2013 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  23. glenview0818

    I have to say, all the Democrat Politicians backed this war when Obama was elected.

    December 30, 2013 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  24. Jim McDonald

    Why does obama still have us there? It's been over 5 years on his watch.

    December 30, 2013 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  25. David Boyer

    uhhh not even close Vietnam?!

    December 30, 2013 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
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