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 Just over half would rather see U.S. troops withdrawn earlier than December 2014.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. ????

    When George W. Bush was president, the news media always reported every combat fatality which was followed by a summary of the total number of service members who had died to that date in the Iraq War.

    Now you would hardly know that our military was still involved in a war in Afghanistan.

    I wonder why is there a difference in the reporting (note sarcasm).

    December 30, 2013 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  2. rs

    tom l
    @rs

    So hold on a second. You complain about the Iraq War but then in the same sentence talked about how it unleashed the Arab Spring which you are obviously in favor of. So which is it?

    Oh, and why so quiet on your criticism of our president who has signed a deal to have our troops remain in Afghanistan in perpetuity?
    _____________
    Oh, simple one. Where to start? The Arab Spring has been a cesspool of Right-wing jabber at the President. He's either "leading from behind" (presumably not war-mongering enough), or he's committing an illegal war. You know, the usual whine with no solution. Our roles in the AS have been limited and for the most part appropriate and successful. To wrap this in with the Right's disasters in Iraq and Afghanistan is at best insane. As far as where the AS leads- well the Right obviously prefers dictators to actual democracy, so, yes, I support people attempting to be free- and I'll acknowledge that they may pick leaders and governments our nation may never approve of- that's their right. Something the neo-Conservatives never got.

    As far as my criticism of the Afghanistan war- well I am adult enough to realize why it was started, and who screwed it up- and that was Bush and Cheney for dropping the ball and going after Iraq and Hussein. In other words- Afghanistan was another Republican-made mess that Obama had to clean-up. Funny how you guys on the Right think that Obama failed because he hasn't been able to undo in 5 years what you guys took 8 years to mess up. Think about that one. Once they did that Afghanistan was lost. Do remember- it was the GOP that demanded we stay and fight- and complain even today about leaving Afghanistan.
    I guess the GOP wants to keep flushing away billions of dollars through Cheney's Halliburton in air bases, building and services there- heaven forbid we rebuild our own country, eh?

    December 30, 2013 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  3. smith

    @Tampa Tim-First, KSM was the mastemind behind the 9/11 attacks not Bin Laden. Second, the dems and gop stood side by side and voted for military action in Afghanistan.

    December 30, 2013 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  4. sammy

    well what do you expect..afgans are making dollar and average american are facing economic problem and the most shoking and disheartening thing is that they even do not appreciate ameriacn sacrifices..

    December 30, 2013 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  5. rs

    Poor, poor Malary.... you Do know that even the CBO says there will still be 20-30 MILLION uninsured people even WITH Obamacare, right? And where are all the savings to the American people is suddenly all of these people are forced to carry insurance? If they are paying for themselves now and not free riding as you call it, why did our insurance premiums go UP instead of DOWN? The middle class is getting the shaft anyway you look at it by Obamacare.
    ______________
    The Righties are really dense today- the ACA has been enrolling for how long? Two months? Do the math genius, it is exactly on track to hit its goals. Those goals by the way are 100% higher than if we delayed implementation (at the Right's request), or if it had been de-funded or otherwise wrecked by the Right. Even the phony web sites and the Koch millions can't seem to stop it.
    Really, did you think everyone would be signed up in two months? You are the people who must believe Obama is a miracle worker!

    December 30, 2013 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  6. pegasuswing

    58,000 US soldiers killed in Vietnam, 2,300 US soldiers killed in Afghanistan. All an unbearable loss to the families who lost loved ones. Then many of us are shamed for the way vets are ignored whether it be Agent Orange, PTSD, physical damage, or inability to re-immerse in society. People from all countries want to protect their country, economy, and prosperity when they are doing well. The money could have been better spent helping people.
    The drones save US lives, but shame us. We are the only country that ever dropped atomic bombs or used drones in war. Neither bring us pride in our accomplishments. These wars are for corporate profit, not to bring freedom, education, nutrition to those who have so little.
    Unlike Robert McNamara who figured out 50 years after the Vietnam war that we should have first considered if we should even be there. The "Architect of the Vietnam War" should have looked before he made others leap.

    December 30, 2013 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  7. DaveW

    Please, let's just get out of Afghanistan. Al Queda will die a natural death if we just stop providing them with an enemy. All my Nam buddies died and were horribly wounded for no reason whatsoever; Communism died a natural death and all my friends losses and were 100% in vain. There is no enemy except our own selves; Al Queda and others hate us because we have abused our power around the world for decades – supporting fascist dictators who grant access to our corporate interests. It's so sickening.
    We need to get out of Afghanistan and we need to stop the drone war. We are making new Osama bin Ladens faster than we can deal with them.

    December 30, 2013 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  8. dontbeascaredjerk

    There's a lot to say about these forced wars for profit, but obviously almost everyone agrees they're a mess. BUT! After reading some of these comments I just have to remind people: George W Bush started both the Iraq and Afghanistan invasions and had no plan for ending them before bolting office. Our current president had to clean up so much BS from W its crazy (including the broken economy as well). I dislike and distrust any and all politicians....but Barack Obama did not start or cause most of the things people try to blame him for. His really only massive debacle that he clearly owns is Obamacare, which was laughably horrible.

    December 30, 2013 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  9. Ryan

    where's the link to the actual poll's crosstabs? I don't understand why these people write an article about a poll and don't put a link to the actual poll...

    December 30, 2013 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  10. rs

    I suppose one of the points to be taken from this poll is longevity. As bad as Iraq was, it pales against Afghanistan- much in the same way all other American wars pale against Viet Nam.
    The other take away is causality. We fought WWI and WW II with clear goals. The threat was visible, and identifiable. There was also common support between enrollment and draft- rich and poor, the cultured and the base all fought in WW I and II. Korea and Viet Nam were problematic inasmuch as the goals weren't clear. Iraq and Afghanistan were far worse as not only were there no real goals, there were no exit strategies- and as it was run on the backs of our volunteer military- many did multiple tours, 6, 8 and more.
    Our take away from the last two wars ought to be: no war without a plan, and no war where we all don't have skin in the game. Bush doled out tax cuts instead of raising taxes to pay for his wars. The returning dead couldn't be photographed by the media (remember the nightly body bags on network TV during Viet Nam? That had impact on the population, and the war's support at home). Meanwhile the poor service men and women went back over and over and over- when there should have been a draft- or and end to Iraq and Afghanistan wars owing to the lack of personnel.
    War ought to mean something- and the sad thing was those who most ardently want war rarely pay the price.

    December 30, 2013 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  11. Paul T

    We never should have gotten involved in ANY war in the middle or anywhere else for that matter. It is only because of the knee-jerk reactionaries who think that the US is the world's policeman that we get involved, not to mention the pockets that get lined and the pocketbooks that get filled by the slime bucket politicians on both side of the aisle as well as the promoters of warfare related industries. When the dust settles, the US is out the money and the people and the only winners are the owners of the businesses that made all the money selling the warfare and probably the countries that were attacked because of the reparations. (Think "The Mouse that Roared")

    I was in Viet Nam for a year, humping guns and ducking mortar rounds, but what do I know about war??>!!

    December 30, 2013 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  12. Rudy NYC

    somebody wrote:

    When George W. Bush was president, the news media always reported every combat fatality which was followed by a summary of the total number of service members who had died to that date in the Iraq War.
    ------------------------
    Actually, the Bush administration did the exact opposite. Due to the Iraq War's growing unpopularity at home because they failed to find WMDs in Iraq, the Busy administration stopped releasing figures on a daily bais. They even went as far as to ban the press corps from seeing returning caskets from Iraq as they were removed from transport planes. Pres. Obama opened those ceremonies back up to the press.

    December 30, 2013 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  13. Bob Forsberg

    ...arguably presented by the most inept president in U.S. history.
    Advanced education looks good on paper but has never created common sense.

    December 30, 2013 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  14. alaskan1st

    Thanks for the war George W and FOX NEWS. Two of Americas biggest enemies.

    December 30, 2013 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  15. Rudy NYC

    rs wrote:

    ... ... Bush doled out tax cuts instead of raising taxes to pay for his wars. The returning dead couldn't be photographed by the media (remember the nightly body bags on network TV during Viet Nam? That had impact on the population, and the war's support at home). .... ...
    -----------------------------------
    I remember the staggering casualty numbers that would be reported at beginning of every network evening newscast. Rare was the day when the daily fatality count was under 100. The reported daily casualty count would always number in the hundreds. And that was for U.S. servicemen serving in Vietnam. Just as in Iraq, far more Vietnamese were being killed than Americans. At least once per week, there would be an exceptionally bad day for fatalities and casualties.

    Ugh. Then they would follow those figures up with footage from the fronts. Ugh.

    December 30, 2013 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  16. smith

    @rs- So basically you want us the photos(caskets) of fallen soliders to promote your anti-war stance? I suppose that is the same reason you wanted a draft? Today`s military is all volunteer, I spent a year in Iraq and I did so of my own freewill and none of the men I served with ever complained or was upset for being over there. It was duty and our job.

    December 30, 2013 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  17. Tampa Tim

    Smith -You seem like a history buff, wasn't Atef the real mastermind? KSM, Atef, under bin Laden leadership, or is my memory fading?

    December 30, 2013 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  18. Tampa Tim

    Smith – Thanks for your service, where were you assigned?

    December 30, 2013 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  19. MDL

    US KIA in Afgahanstan total 2,010. 2001-2008 US KIA total = 412. 2009-2013 US KIA total=1,398. More troops died under Obama than Bush.

    December 30, 2013 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  20. Greg In Arkansas

    The troops invaded Iraq & Afghanistan.....and then.....the "contractors" (AKA Halliburton, Blackwater, DynaCore, etc.) invaded the US Treasury and bankrupted the country......maybe that's why these "wars" are the most unpopular..

    December 30, 2013 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  21. rs

    smith
    @rs- So basically you want us the photos(caskets) of fallen soliders to promote your anti-war stance? I suppose that is the same reason you wanted a draft? Today`s military is all volunteer, I spent a year in Iraq and I did so of my own freewill and none of the men I served with ever complained or was upset for being over there. It was duty and our job.
    _________
    So, Smith which is it? Deaths of our brave men and women in uniform is or isn't news? You can't have it both ways just because you wish to bash the President for failing to clean up the GOP's fiasco on your schedule. And, yes, I am anti-war when war has no purpose. Iraq did not, and Afghanistan did before Bush lost interest.
    As far as my stance on war- well that is my opinion- and I am entitled to it. If you pay attention to my posts here you might notice that there have been wars I believed in and supported- I realize that for many this is an either-or proposition, but life ain't like that.

    December 30, 2013 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  22. Marie MD

    @MDL, regardless of how many have been killed Nd when we should have never invaded Iraq and we should get put of Afghanistan and let them go back to their caves.

    December 30, 2013 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  23. rs

    MDL
    US KIA in Afgahanstan total 2,010. 2001-2008 US KIA total = 412. 2009-2013 US KIA total=1,398. More troops died under Obama than Bush.
    __________
    An utterly meaningless statistic because you ignore whose war it was. Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld started the war with no goals, and no way out. Mr. Obama is merely cleaning up their mess.
    If you do the same analysis with Iraq, you find the opposite. Does that factoid mean anything?

    December 30, 2013 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  24. Rudy NYC

    Greg In Arkansas

    The troops invaded Iraq & Afghanistan.....and then.....the "contractors" (AKA Halliburton, Blackwater, DynaCore, etc.) invaded the US Treasury and bankrupted the country......maybe that's why these "wars" are the most unpopular..
    --------------------------
    Remember when those same contractors lost all of those pallets of cash, which added up to billions of U.S. dollars? Republicans controlled both chambers of Congress and the White House. All they said was, "Oops." No investigation. Nothing.

    December 30, 2013 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  25. truth hurts but reality bites

    Rudy NYC
    Remember when those same contractors lost all of those pallets of cash, which added up to billions of U.S. dollars? Republicans controlled both chambers of Congress and the White House. All they said was, "Oops." No investigation. Nothing.
    -–

    Yes, we agree, government is always very wasteful and never protects are hard earned tax dollars. But your example above PALES in comparison to the hundreds of billions lost every single year in this country to waste, fraud and abuse. Estimates for Medicare alone range from $60 to $100 BILLION a year. What are the Democrats doing to stop all of this??? Nothing. Because most if it likely goes to their supporters.

    December 30, 2013 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
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