May 21st, 2009
03:18 PM ET
11 years ago

CNN Poll: Americans divided on Afghanistan war

WASHINGTON (CNN) - A new national poll indicates that Americans don't think things are going well for the U.S. in Afghanistan, but they're not calling for a withdrawal of troops from that country.

But the CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Thursday,suggests that there's a very different public take on the war in Iraq: a majority thinks things are going well in that country - but two-thirds oppose the war there.

The poll also indicates that Americans would approve sending U.S. forces into Pakistan if the Taliban were poised to take control of that country.

Fifty-two percent of those questioned in the survey say they think things are going well for the U.S. in Iraq, with 47 percent say things are going badly. But opposition to the war remains high, with nearly two out of three opposing the conflict.

"Independents are most likely to oppose the war in Iraq while believing that things are going well in that country," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Only a third of Independents support the war, but 56 percent of them have a positive view of how things are going for the U.S. in that country."

When it comes to the war in Afghanistan, the poll suggests that only 36 percent of Americans feel things are going well for the United States, while six in ten say things are going poorly. But Americans are split over the war, with 50 percent in favor and 48 percent opposed.

"In Iraq, there appears to have been a connection between support for the war and perceptions of how it was going," Holland notes. "In the spring and summer of 2005, for example, when we saw the number who thought that the Iraq war was going well slip under the 50 percent mark, we saw a corresponding drop in support for the war. It looks as if that hasn't happened in Afghanistan so far, although it's difficult to predict how the public will react to future events."

While Americans are divided on Afghanistan, they seem to be on the same page when it comes to neighboring Pakistan, where government forces are battling Taliban insurgents. Nearly three in four people polled feel that it would be a major problem for the United States if the Taliban deposed the current government of Pakistan and took power in that country, with one in four saying it would only be a minor problem.

And nearly six out of ten would favor sending U.S. ground forces into Pakistan if the Taliban took control of the country.

"Most Americans think things are going well in Iraq, but they appear to have given up on that war. They are more interested in the threats coming from Afghanistan and Pakistan," says CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey was conducted May 14-17, with 1,010 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Filed under: CNN Polls
soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. Randolph Carter

    Afghanistan needs to be done. Iraq did not. Haliburton is going to be bummed. Have a nice day!

    May 21, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  2. RNC = DNC = politics as usual

    Obama's Viet Nam.

    Even though his fine print called for continued war, his campaign made sure all the sheep cried "Peace President".

    You have been lied to. Nicely, but lied to none the less, sheep.

    May 21, 2009 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  3. Obama has no idea how to win a war.....

    he has no military experience and no executive experience-he's a community organizer (as Sarah pointed out) and that just won't cut it.

    May 21, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  4. Thomas

    I want President Bush to answer these questions

    1. What is the goal of the war in AF?

    2. How are we going to measure progress/lack of progress?

    3. What is our exit criteria?

    Answer these questions and I will be able to opine about the war in AF.

    May 21, 2009 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  5. The Broker.

    Forget this one. This is not a war. Be ready for the next one. When Irael gets sick of waiting for Obama to lead. The Guy who has done nothing but hide behind Bush. Iran will be ablaze soon.

    May 21, 2009 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  6. Linda

    President Obama can do a better job with Afganastan then Bush did with Iraq. Mr. Genius really did a number on the American people. Now the biggest jerk of his administration is spouting out of the side of his mouth.

    May 21, 2009 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  7. Randolph Carter

    Obama has no experience... wrote: he has no military experience and no executive experience—he's a community organizer (as Sarah pointed out) and that just won't cut it.

    And we know from history that presidents with military experience always win wars and ones with no military experience never do. Have a nice day!

    May 21, 2009 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  8. Fair is Fair

    @ The Broker:

    I'm afraid you're correct. And what will happen there will make Afghanistan and Iraq look tame by comparison. God help us all.

    May 21, 2009 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  9. Melissa

    Afghanistan shouldn't have been abandoned by the Bush regime. Then we wouldn't be in this mess. Stop blaming Obama for the Shrubs screwups.

    May 21, 2009 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  10. Sarge

    For all of you people who thing water boarding is not torture. Try this method on for size, come to Florida and get caught in a rip current and feel the sensation drowning just as you gasp for that last bit of air. The you will know the feeling of drowning..Any takers? I don't see a show of hands....What are you afraid to feel it/

    May 21, 2009 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  11. History remembered

    If the USSR, at the peak of their military power, could not get rid of these people in Afghanistan with NO "rules of engagement". Why do we think we can do better, when our "rules of engagement" make our troops wait for the enemy to shoot first ?

    May 21, 2009 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  12. Laura in Connecticut

    PRESIDENT OBAMA is right to focus on Afghanistan, this is where the war on terrorism has been all along, but we have to finish the job we started We can't just go in to a country, destroy the enemy and then think that we are great for setting up "democracy"...we have to help rebuild schools and hospitals and show that America is more than just a power to destroy, we are also proud of our humanitarianism, and willing to work for the better. The terrorists won't have anything to use against us in their recruitment, and in the end this will make us safer.

    May 21, 2009 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  13. Willy Brown

    Can we recall the last presidental election and get 2 new players out there to bid for POTUS, a leader is what I am looking for not a basher or blame game dude.?

    May 21, 2009 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  14. JT

    The Dick Cheney Torture Tour – What kind of people actually accept what he is saying is 1) Logical and 2) Legal? The religious right needs to be digging deep on this one.

    May 21, 2009 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  15. The lonely Libertarian of Liverpool NY

    No invader in history has been victorious in Afghanistan, even the great Gangis Khan was defeated.

    May 21, 2009 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  16. shucks

    I think the only division is that the Iraq war was a war of lies and we lost thousands of US troops there and continue to now. We should have been in Afghanistan in the first place, but that wasn't where the Bushes and their friends had their fortunes invested in oil. Now we have no choice but to be in Afghanistan if we want to get who was really responsible for 9/11. Osama Bin Laden. He is still a free man thanks to Bush and Cheney and their decptive war.

    May 21, 2009 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  17. Marc

    Fair is Fair and The Broker – An alternative, a valid and viable one this time please, otherwise you'll be marked as 'The dudes who want that things go wrong so they can say I told you so'...

    May 21, 2009 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  18. Same Old White House

    Dont forget. Obama is in charge now and the wars are still on. The democrats have not lived up to their promises.

    May 21, 2009 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  19. barking republican ankle biters

    Anyone that thinks Osama Bin Laden is still in a cave needs to buy a clue.I think he is in a Palace somewhere in Saudi Arabia eating horse meat.

    May 21, 2009 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  20. elliott

    If you believe the liberal press you think almost ANY war we are in is going badly. The truth is, we have been VERY effective in Iraq and we will be very effective in Afghanistan.

    May 21, 2009 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |