November 11th, 2009
08:44 AM ET
13 years ago

CNN Poll: Is Obama taking too long on Afghanistan decision?

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="President Obama made an unannounced visit to the Dover Air Force Base late last month to honor 18 Americans killed in the line of duty in Afghanistan."]
Washington (CNN) - Americans are split over whether President Barack Obama is taking too long to make a decision on whether to send more U.S. troops to the war in Afghanistan, according to a new national poll.

But the CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey also indicates that by a narrow margin, Americans think that in making his decision, the president should listen to the recommendations of the generals in charge of U.S. troops in Afghanistan rather than taking other matters into account as well.

The poll's Wednesday morning release comes just hours before the president is scheduled to hold another meeting with his national security advisers to discuss policy in Afghanistan.

Full results (PDF)

According to the survey, 49 percent of people questioned say the president is taking too long to decide whether to increase U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan; 50 percent do not.

"There is a gender gap on this question, with most men saying Obama is taking too long and most women willing to give him more time," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "That's due in part to the partisan differences between men and women, but gender differences on the use of military force, and maybe even differences in how the genders make important decisions, can also be contributing to the split."

The poll indicates that 52 percent think Obama should listen to the generals, with 48 percent saying the president should take other matters into account as well. But a troop build-up remains unpopular, with a separate question indicating that a majority opposes sending more troops.

What's going on? Roughly one in five Americans oppose more troops, yet also believe that Obama should pay attention to the U.S. military leaders in that country, says Holland. "That suggests that a lot of people who don't support a troop build-up are unaware of General Stanley McChrystal's request for a bigger U.S. military presence there," he says. "And that, in turn, indicates that the military leaders in the field might provide Obama some political cover if he decides to increase troop strength there."

McChrystal, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, has reportedly submitted a request for as many as 40,000 additional troops.

While the public is divided right down the middle over whether Obama is taking too long to make the decision on troops, the poll suggests that there is widespread agreement that Afghanistan will never have a stable democratic government. Only one in 10 people questioned say that will occur within a year; only a third say that will ever happen. That may be one big reason why 56 percent of Americans oppose sending more troops, while 42 percent favor increasing troop strength.

According to the poll, four in 10 support the war in Afghanistan, with 58 percent opposing the conflict.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted October 30-November 1, with 1,018 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points for the overall sample.

–CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.

Filed under: Afghanistan • CNN poll
soundoff (209 Responses)
  1. George

    Maybe he wants to get it right, get all the information and not go off half witted like our previous president did. Had the first one used his head, Afghanistan may not be in the shape it is now.
    A good decision no matter how long it takes, is better than shooting from the hip, and hitting the wrong target!!

    November 11, 2009 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  2. Kevin in Ohio

    Amazing.... conservatives have been asking for action by this President since early September, and only now does CNN get around to a poll like this? This President's indecision reflects his incompetence, and is sending a very hopeful message to the Taliban.

    November 11, 2009 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  3. Darlene

    Every day he delays...could be costing an American life !

    November 11, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  4. Anonymous

    Absolutely not, please take longer, there's no hurry at all!

    November 11, 2009 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  5. doug

    It is quite simple. He hates America and he hates the American military. That is why he is trying to change America into Europe. Peace through strength. That is what America has always been.

    November 11, 2009 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  6. gina

    Obama Promise to end the WAR, when his going to deliver any of his promise?

    November 11, 2009 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  7. m h

    To obama it is all about what he thinks will make him look good.
    In his mind he is stalling until if is to his advantage, to hell with the troops. He will most likely send most of the 40,000.

    November 11, 2009 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  8. The disgrace


    but he is taking too long on allowing the Justice dept.
    to arrest Dick Cheney and George Bush on statring an illegal war and they beare all the responsibility for all the bitter , awful fruit that has come from the that Lie.

    Peace, Begins with Justice, Healing begins when this is recognized.

    We The People, were Horribly duped.

    November 11, 2009 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  9. jeff

    War decisions made by focus groups and/or George Soros is no way to make foreign policy decisions.

    November 11, 2009 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
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