December 6th, 2009
12:46 PM ET
6 years ago

CNN Poll: Americans mostly agree with Obama on Afghanistan


Americans agree with the Afghanistan policy Barack Obama announced on Tuesday night at West Point, according to a new national poll out Sunday. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Washington (CNN) - Americans agree with the Afghanistan policy Barack Obama announced on Tuesday night at West Point in large measure because they agree with the arguments the president made in that speech, according to a new national poll.

In his prime time address at the U.S. Military Academy, where Obama spelled out his decision to send an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to the war, the president stressed that America's safety and security are at stake in Afghanistan. A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation national survey released Sunday morning indicates 64 percent of Americans agree with the president, with one in three saying the country's safety and security is not at stake in Afghanistan. According to the poll, 63 percent of people questioned also agree with Obama that the U.S. action in Afghanistan is morally justified.

Full results (pdf)

"That's one major way that Afghanistan is different from Iraq in the public's mind," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "At the time of the Iraq surge in 2007, most Americans questioned whether that war was justified."

The president met with military and civilian advisers for three months before announcing his Afghanistan decision. Obama said he needed that time to review the options available. Did he take too long to decide? Fifty-six percent say no, with 43 percent feeling three months was not necessary.

But Obama also said that his objectives in Afghanistan included preventing terrorists from re-establishing a base of operations in that country and establish a stable government that the terrorists will not be able to overthrow. The poll indicates less than four in ten believe that those goals will be reached.

"As a result, nearly six in ten say defeat is possible, but an equal number also say victory is possible. Most Americans think a stalemate is the likeliest outcome, something that may make an exit strategy harder to implement if that prediction comes true," adds Holland.

Forty-two percent of people questioned in the poll say they watched the president's Tuesday night address on Afghanistan. Of those who viewed the speech, 34 percent say it makes them more likely to support Obama's polices on Afghanistan, 16 percent said the address makes them less likely to back Obama's strategy, and 50 percent said it had no effect.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey was conducted Wednesday and Thursday, following the president's Tuesday night speech, with 1,041 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The poll's overall sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

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

Filed under: Afghanistan • CNN poll • Popular Posts
soundoff (232 Responses)
  1. Rod from Indy

    Woonsocket: People like you have such a hard problem with the truth. Bush and Cheney almost ruined this country; we may never recover fully. And yet when we get someone who immediately begins to tackle the myriad of problems he left us with, who uses whatever power the government has to help jumpstart the economy(tax breaks for the rich over 8 years didn't work), you swallow any right wing extremist idiotic idea that Rush or Palin throws up to try to defame him. So now you're calling him a jihadist??? If you can't lead, or follow, then get out of the way and let the man do his job. You add nothing to the solution; no Republican has.

    December 6, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  2. Cyrus

    Woonsocket et. al.

    I am an an American Muslim, and could you and your right-wing comrades explain to me, what it means by "Islamic upbringing" and what it means to be a "Jihadist" or "Muslim"? You guys seem to add "ist" after any word that you can find, and use the words "Jihadist" and "Muslims" interchangeably.

    Besides, what's wrong with being a Muslim, or a Muslim in America for that matter? It's not a disease or a disability, as Fox News and the right-wing would want to make you believe. As a Christian or a person of other faith, you SHOULD be proud of your faith. Why is it wrong when a Muslim man/woman is proud of his/her own faith?

    And you wonder why liberals and progressives in this country cannot stand religious right and the neocons like yourself!!

    December 6, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  3. ATL Guy

    Maybe we should run this country based on polls. It seems like everyday CNN has a new poll about something. Who wants healthcare reform today? 48%? Okay no healthcare reform today. Who wants bank reform today? 34% Okay no bank reform today? Ok who wants pizza for dinner? 76%? Okay let's call pizza hut. Enough of the stupid polls. This is the first time I've ever seen someone polled so much in their first year of the presidency.

    December 6, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  4. H

    So, if sending more troops with a targeted date of closure is a bad idea – what are the moral and political alternatives? Pull out now, and know with almost full certainty that we leave a relatively intact terrorist grid? Or, stay forever with no defined measures of success? Oh, those are really much better ideas. Assumption is that troop escalation will accomplish change, and it won't just be a matter of the enemy lying in wait.

    December 6, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  5. Joel Harper

    Do you like the stories photo angle ? He's almost like he's looking down upon us little people, dispensing his wisdom to his subjects. Also, didn't his popularity rating drop below 50% in the last week? Why are they cherry picking this specific-subject poll to emphasize?
    Yeah.... the media is politically neutral.

    December 6, 2009 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  6. manhandler

    Did you just keep polling and polling and polling until you finally got the propaganda number that you needed? Obviously ypu've polled way more Republicans than Democrats because Democrats have been solidly against this insane war for a while now. So are you telling us that those against the war are now strangely FOR the obscene option of pouring more troops into it? You people are a disgrace. Obama will find out how popular he is when he finds out his base has turned against him and the warmongering Republicans that are for him sending more troops to their deaths are NOT for his re-election.

    December 6, 2009 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  7. Death Panel Sarah

    Hey 'ur an id10t 2'......

    Just because you can type 'Death Panel Sarah' doesn't make you more intelligent.....we all know it is you from your previous remark. You will always be our loveable idiot!!!(Maybe you fell off that slide).

    December 6, 2009 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  8. Randall from Detroit now in Torrance, CA - Desert Storm Veteran - To: "Geaux Tigers"

    Come on man, stop it. My sides are busting you're making me laugh too hard! Fox News is so out of touch with main stream voters that Hannity has to color all the Fox News ads with colored drawing pencils to save budget funds. Fox News is just like the 3 X 5 annoying loose advertising inserts that fall out of magazines each time you open up the pages. Nobody reads them, they fall on the floor and get swept up by the custodians at the end of the day. The White House and all serious academia have black listed FoX News because everything they say, write and promote is based on emotion, ignorance and intolerance for other views and other non-white races. I'm ceratin if Hitler were still around he would be either a Fox News reagular guest speaker or a consultant.

    December 6, 2009 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  9. Debby

    Of course he has ratings for this as alot of Republicans and Independents agree with his decision on more troops.

    December 6, 2009 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  10. Bill

    Why is it that everytime a republican speaks out about the socialist takeover that seems to be happening in this country some moron says that we're pawns? that we dont know what we're talking about? I've got news for you dallas alphonso and you other socialist democrats, Marxism isn't far off the beaten path from the socialistic road that you'd like this country to take. Personally I wouldn't be up in arms about a health care bill ( we need it) except that it's just something else the government wants to mico-manage in the public sector. If Obama went after the 20 million illegals in this country with as much zeal as he has for taking over private companies, giving away billions of dollars and pushing his health care bill, we would be a hell of a lot better off. Think, if you can, how much would be saved in education costs, welfare costs, medical costs and lets not for forget how many jobs that Americans could fill if these people were deported. Used to be that knowone cared about illegals in this country because they were doing jobs that Americans didn't want to do ( I know, I've picked cotton and I've picked citrus, and wasn't very good at either). They were servents in rich households, Tricky Dick had illegals working at his place in San Clemente. Now they're in every trade and it hurts those that can and want to do that kind of work.

    Now back to the subject at hand. Obama is right, Afghanistan is a problem that we need to subdue but I have to disagree with the numbers, I dont think 30,000 more troops can do the job. Unless we commit 500,000 men to Afghanistan and have a clear outline ( including help from the Afghan President and the people of Pakistan, aas to winning this war against terrorists) – then it wont happen, all we will have is another Vietnam. But you know maybe that's what those people on top are thinking. War has always been good for business. Yes, the government spends billions but where does it go? Defence contractors = jobs= more spending in the marketplace = more jobs=more spending in the marketplace, ect. It's called trickle down economics, works for good as well as bad. The bad part is that it's like borrowing from peter to pay paul. Service men and women are killed and the disabled have to be cared for somtimes for a life time and they deserve it 100%, but the fact is that it costs more in the long run then the short term gain that we can get by all that spending. I dont know the answer and you can bet your last dime that Obama hasn't got a clue either. At least I've been to college, I know somthing about economics and I've spent 16 years in the Marine Corps, what does he know? how much time has he spent in the defence of this country? ( I say this and not his because I still dont believe he's an American, but sooner or later, wheather he is or isn't will be proved).

    December 6, 2009 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  11. KO

    I think Obama made the best decision out of several bad options. He's getting beat up by the left, but when your general on the ground says more troops are needed it's hard to back away completely. He's getting beat up by the right because they're ridiculous and will beat him up for saying the sun sets in the west. Either this strategy works and he can claim credit or it doesn't, at which point he can say he followed his generals' advice but now it's clear that the war can't be won and will start to pull out. Again, for all those criticizing him, what would have been a better solution?

    December 6, 2009 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  12. Mike, formerly from Syracuse

    Sending more troops is the only correct path. If we left, we'd be attacked again. The HUGE mistake Amateur Boy made was announcing a date to leave. You don't win a war by announcing a date you'll give up and go home. Anyone who was a fit Commander-in-Chief would know that.

    December 6, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  13. ThinkAgain

    It's a tough decision for everyone – and I appreciate that the President put thought into it before making the decision.

    Bush and Cheney dropped the ball on Afghanistan; like all Chickenhawks, their military policies are naive, made in a vacuum without the input of the generals and others who have actually seen combat.

    Hence, the idea that Iraq would be a cakewalk (Rumsfeld first said he'd surprised if it lasted 6 months, then amended that to "war is messy"). Bush & Company also thought that letting bin Laden slip over into Pakistan would somehow make the whole problem go away. (Or was Bush hoping that his good buddies, the bin Laden family, would somehow reign in their black sheep?)

    Regardless, I hope we get bin Laden soon and stabilize Afghanistan enough so that our troops can come home!

    December 6, 2009 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  14. Kim in Iowa

    You just hve to feel sorry for "Woonsocket".
    There is nothing worse than going through life so utterly unable to think for yourself. Woonsocket, try watching something other than FOX once in a's called being an independent thinker. Try it sometime.

    December 6, 2009 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  15. john

    I do not believe most people agree with obam's strategy in Afganistan because nobody really knows what it is other than sending more troops. This man never said the word victory once. I reall do not support more troops in Afganistan unless we WIN! Anybody but barry in 2012

    December 6, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  16. Selina

    @ Randall from Detroit

    I like nothing about barack, I don't hate!

    first time I didn't vote for President

    December 6, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  17. ThinkAgain

    To all the "birthers" out there and everyone else who believes the garbage about President Obama the GOP and its lackeys keep floating in the media:

    If there were any credible evidence about these claims – be it birth certificate, college grades, citizenship, religion, etc. – the GOP would have presented it all in court during the presidential election and proved it beyond a doubt.

    And yet, the GOP never did and never will do that – even though they certainly have the financial means and motivation.

    The only conclusion: All that garbage is made up.

    Everyone who believes this nonsense should pause a moment and consider

    – What the GOP really thinks of you (that you're stupid)

    – Why they keep feeding you these absurdities (because they want you to vote for them, even though their economic, social and military policies are proven failures).

    December 6, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  18. Death Panel Sarah

    To Bill.....

    You just proved OUR point!!!

    December 6, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  19. Mark

    Now we will get to watch the media over hype any report in support for war.


    December 6, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  20. John in Iowa

    "Also, Fox news does NOT just have the largest number of Conservative viewers-–it also has the largest number of Independent and moderate Democrat viewers!!!"

    Sure, they are most likely like me. I have to watch once in a while because its like rubbernecking at an accident; you cant turn away and cannot believe what you are seeing.
    Plus it is also funny to see Hannity trying to always be negative on the 'great american panel' and watch him try to deal with 2 of the panel members telling him he is wrong, like the other night. So funny.

    December 6, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  21. bill

    The real question who is Obama.

    All he wants is Government take over of the private sector.

    December 6, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  22. Adam in VA

    Rod in Indy: "People like you have such a hard problem with the truth. Bush and Cheney almost ruined this country; we may never recover fully.".......what flavor is that kool-ade today. We won't recover soon because of BO. He spent more in less than a year than Bush did in 8. He also wants to had more to that with the expense that his healthcare plan will inflict......then add the cap and tax burden and we will be soo far screwed down the economic road that we will be a third world country. I know you all have been smoking too much weed because you have NO memory of history. While not a big Fan of Bush on many issues the economy was not his problem...although he certainly didn't help it wiith the bailouts. FACT iswe had a BOOMING economy until 2007 when it started to decline. Unemployment was low and people were doing well....despite the medias' hammering that the economy was bad, bad, bad. However, once the Dems took over Congress the markets knew this was BAD since Dems are never business friendly. Businesses in general started a pull back expecting tax hikes that would effect businesses.. A large part of the collapse had much to do with housing. A Dem problem....the Community and Reinvestment Act mandated that banks make loans to lower income families for homes. In plan english...make loans to people who can not afford them. That was in 1977 and in 1996 Clinton made it even more stronger and even Janet Reno sent out letters to banks saying they will be investigated if loans aren't given out. Freddie and Fannie bought up those loans. It was a bomb waiting to go off. Almost ALL of our economic problems can be traced to Congress and the Senate. They like to control things and when you try to control a free market system you will ALWAYS have disastrous unintended consequences.

    December 6, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  23. Bren

    The Generals said that they need 40,000 or MORE troops.

    What does Obama do--he wants to send LESS troops. Who cares what the Generals say that they want/need. Somehow, the Community Organizer knows better.

    Then, the Community Organizer helps the enemy to organize/plan by giving them a withdrawl date.

    This is after the Community Organizer went on his--"sympathize with terrorists" world tour-–and apologize for the US and our military world tour.

    Personally, I just wish that all of the troops would have been brought home. They should NOT be risking their limbs/lives for the anti-American, terrorist sympathizing person--that is currently renting our White House until 2012.

    How many will be prosecuted/thrown in prison---for doing their jobs??? How many will lose their limbs/lives--because they were fearful of doing something that might end up with them being prosecuted and thrown in prison.

    Did you hear about our 4 military men--who are now facing prosecution/prison after capturing a terrorist on the "most wanted list"--because the terrorist accused them of punching him in the face???

    December 6, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  24. ThinkAgain

    Bill: Your anger at "illegals" is misplaced. The bottom line is if people were unwilling to employ them, they wouldn't be here.

    It all started under Reagan, when he made conditions more favorable at the request of big California agri-business.

    Regarding socialism being a slippery slope to Marxism, please explain to me why all the countries in the world with socialized medicine – including Sweden, Norway, Germany, England, etc. – are thriving democracies.

    Our government doesn't want to micro-manage health care; reform is about lowering costs for small business and individuals, so that employers can afford to hire more people and folks don't need to worry about losing everything should they get sick.

    It's just common sense that if we have a healthier populace, they'll be more productive, and everyone wins (except, of course, the health care CEO's who'll somehow have to scrimp by on less than $14 million average annual salary .... ).

    December 6, 2009 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  25. Beverly in NC

    Most Americans know we can trust President Obama to do what is right and the best option possible. This Bush war has been a total disaster and we must end it with real goals, a strategy on what is to be done, and then a plan to get out.

    Bush did none of these things. He lied to the UN, our Allies, the Congress, and the American People about Iraq and ignored where the terrorists really were. Bush had no plans, no strategy, and put no thought into any war objective. He and Cheney thought they were going to just waltz into Iraq, take their oil (for Cheney's own oil company) and have adoring Iraqis falling at their feet.

    Instead they destroyed the relationship with our Allies, made us more unsafe by invading a Muslim country on false pretenses, and killing tens of thousands of American soldiers for nothing. Thye both should have been impeached but Republicans don't believe in honesty, integrity or the rule of law.

    President Obama inherited this mess and is trying to do the best he can to achieve some objectives to cripple terrorist groups and then bring our soldiers home. He knows we need to stop wasting money on war and killing people and invest that money in America and saving American lives, restoring our economy that the Republicans demolished, and pass progressive programs that once put the People first and not the large greedy abusive corporations Republicans cater to- the insurance industry, banks, and oil companies.

    Thank goodness we finally have an extremely intelligent leader who is a good and decent man that can be trusted to work for the best interests of ALL Americans...and we don't have to pass a "purity test" for him to support the critical needs of our nation.

    December 6, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
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