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. faux buster

    Hi Woonsocket or Sean Hanity or Glen Beck, you are obviously a frightwing plant trying pathetically to restage the election (which is over) sorry, by bringing up lame character assassinations already vetted out by the american people during the years long election season. To another point I'm a little bored with your kind trying to make "Muslim" a dirty word trying to scare people with your us and them tactics. The fact is that musims like myself born and bred in the USA are just as american as anyone who ever wore red white and blue and according to the Constitution "are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights" my father is a former marine parrot trooper who fought for this country in a war i dissagree with. If muslims(who number in the billions) were the boogeymen you frightwingers make us out to be beliving in killing anyone who doesn't beleive like we do "Let the bodies hit the floor "would not just be a Disturbed song. don't beleive the hype

    December 6, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  2. Randall from Detroit now in Torrance, CA - Desert Storm Veteran - To: "Joel Harper"

    Unfortunately, the Military is a "Top-Down" organization. Meaning that directions comes from the Commander-in-Chief, and filter out to the DoD Armed Services and DoD components. It's called the chain of command in cae you didn't know or never served. I served proudly in the Nvy for twenty years and you just learn to take and give orders – that's how it works. How did you expect the photo to be shot? From the roof? From the podium? What's your point? If you can't tell the difference between Bush's tone and Obama's tone when making a decision or by the inflection in their words, then you are asleep. Bush had no patience, was arrogant, egotistical, dumb and couldn't speak English very well – and these were his good qualities. This why the GOP like him so much – because he represented everything a CEO and tax evader could ever dream and hope for. Conversely, Obama has a sense of human dignity and understands the struggles Americans and other people from other nations face everyday, and he is trying to add and integrate the human dimension into his ideas and policies. Bush never cared about who has health care, or how much the middle-class has to fight to survive BECAUSE of policies that prevent fair and equitable due dillegence in foreign or domestic policies. Bush the oilman, only cared about oil, profits from oil, drilling for oil, keeping the U.S. dependent on oil, overthrowing other countries for oil, and making sure his SUV had oil. Other than that, Bush was completely remiss in giving the slightest nod to the middle-class unless he wanted them to fight his wars of choice and die in his unnecessary wars. Soon, more than 5000 U.S. troops will have died for oil, because Bush stood and looked down on us little people as if we were his subjects and said, "Now children, please listen to my bedtime story, I have written just for you. We are in danger of Sadamm Hussein striking the U.S. with a nuke and even though the CIA says there is no evidence whatsoever, we are going to pretend this is all a fairy tale and we are going to take over Iraq. When we find WMD AND OIL we will be heroes the world over! And everyone will live happily everafter." The problem was that there was no WMD and the GOP had to invent reasons to stay there, hence MISSION UNKNOWN and NOT COMPLETE.

    December 6, 2009 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  3. Tired

    Glad our President finally got a glimmer of good news. It's been a tough year so far. I hope we can finish up the job and bring our troops home in 2011,

    December 6, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  4. Faye

    Many claim we are a Christian country but they spout lies and anger against their fellow Americans. If we were a Christian country we wouldn't do that, as it goes against Christian teaching. I don't think we can "win" in Afghanistan unless our allies line up with us, man for man. If we would actually show more Christan respect for each other maybe they would.

    December 6, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  5. David

    For those of you critisizing that he is sending 30,000 versus 40,000, you have no idea what other factors this President has to consider. For example many of you don't know that as of right now we have 50,000 troops that are combat ready right now. If we sent 40,000 that would only leave 10,000 combat ready troops to send if some other conflict broke out. He needs to think about more than just this one conflict and this one country. He dealing with a hostile Iran, North Korean, and other possible threats. Some of you should have a little faith that this man has a lot more information at his disposal. The Republicans always want to talk about Victory. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are not as simple as blowing up and killing enemies and that's it. Victory is not as clear as some past wars. We have to set goals and if we meet those goals, then we are successful. Then we get the heck out of there and let the Afghans take over their own country's security.

    December 6, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  6. Jeanne H.

    After 8 years of no policy in Afghanistan, it's time for somebody to make the hard decision even if this situation was caused by somebody else's stupidity.

    December 6, 2009 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  7. Libertarian

    about time we got back to the real business here!!
    Have we found any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq yet?

    GW was still just trying to win approval from Dad on that one. After he bankrupt TWO businesses Daddy GAVE him.


    December 6, 2009 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  8. La Chatte

    People support him for the moment. Just wait until we extricate ourselves. Here we go again.

    December 6, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  9. bmw

    Although I'd rather avoid war, I agree with President Obama's decision to send more troops to clean up the mess in Afghanistan left by the Bush administration. The withdrawal timeline is also necessary to serve notice to Afghanistan that America (a) does not intend to occupy the country, and (b) will only give them 18 more months of our resources.

    December 6, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  10. I am the flacid and powerless wizard of Rush

    Yesterday's poll: Bad for Obama
    Today's poll: Good for Obama

    My Poll: Too may freakin' polls.

    December 6, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  11. diy

    His policy was dead on the same as Bush's minus the time table. So the libs agree because they are blind and will support anything Obama says. The conservatives agree with the policy because it was Bush's policy... This poll is common sense.

    December 6, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  12. James, Ho. TX

    OK Obama if your sending more troops to Afghanistan; Why don't You lead the Charge? You Know, Ala Teddy Roosevelt; Walk the Talk, Commander in Chief. Joe Biden can send You, "Care Packages".

    December 6, 2009 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  13. Pineapple Express

    Reading some of these comments make me sad.

    December 6, 2009 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  14. FactCheck

    Ah, the loony wing-nuts. Screaming, yelling, watching FOX... doing everything to convince themselves of a Republican uprising in 2010 and 2012. It ain't gonna happen. The Republicans are like the giants panda and the Vancouver marmot... a species on the verge of total extinction.

    December 6, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |

    I support this President on all if not most issues......As a moderate republican, it's hilarious to see both parties try to put Obama in a box and say this is who he is.......truth be told, the President is a pragmatist, w/ no allegiance to ideology, but to what works.

    Obama 2012.

    December 6, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  16. John in Tampa

    Some people complain that Obama never used the word 'victory.'

    He shouldn't. It's not a game.

    December 6, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  17. Randall from Detroit now in Torrance, CA - Desert Storm Veteran - To: "Selina"

    Selina, when you say you don't like Obama, are you talking about him personally (looks, youthful appearnce, color, race, education, success, author, etc.). Or is Obama's foreign and domestic agenda policies and health care stance at odds with your political ideas?

    December 6, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  18. Former Republican now proud Dem! Obama 2 Termer!

    To Selina who didnt vote at all last year: Thank you! Somehow i get the feeling that the country is better off without your vote, hate and Negativity!

    December 6, 2009 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  19. scorpio

    Nobel peace prize for Obama!!

    I thought he is going bring CHANGE he talked about!! But sorry, I don't see him doing anything he talked about!
    On top of that Nobel proce for peace..was biggest joke!

    December 6, 2009 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  20. C. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    To disagree with President Obama is to agree with Karzai who clearly prefers Bush's plan of no exit and to stay and pay forever.

    December 6, 2009 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  21. MikeH

    Kim in Iowa;

    Don't waste your time trying to use rational arguments with the likes of Woonsocket.

    Folks like this are either irrational ingnorant extremists, or paid liars of the Republican Party, given stipends to post right-wing extremist trash on these forums.

    December 6, 2009 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  22. slp

    I can't believe that I am saying this but there is something here that I have to commend the president on. For the first time in his presidency, he made a decision that didn't pander to his left base supporters. A lot of liberals are furious with him for this decision. However, this decision has a lot of problems. First of all, General McChrystal asked for 40,000 troops. President Obama is sending 30,000. Next, he gave a date of withdrawal. All that does is let the enemy know to lay low for a while and then continue their mayhem once we withdraw. It seems to me that he doesn't have confidence that we can win this thing. That is not good coming from the commander and chief of the armed forces. it doesn't do a lot to boost the confidence of our troops. It does, however, give our enemy lots of confidence.

    December 6, 2009 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  23. steven harnack

    When I picture a Woonsocket I see a creature with a bloated body(kind of like Rush), long spindly neck and a really tiny head shaped like a socket , the creature designed so its socket head plugs into an orifice between its legs , thus insuring that its only diet is the same recycled "stuff" over and over again.

    December 6, 2009 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  24. Chris in California

    Hi Woonsuckit,

    Just for the record, Bill Ayers was NOT invited to the inaugural and does NOT confer with the president regularly.

    Oh, and you might find this funny, but the Secret Service reads these posts too so start looking over your shoulder you paranoid, racist loser.

    December 6, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  25. Don in Albuquerque

    Floundering health care reform, that is now a gift to the insurance companies, credit card reform that resulted in skyrocketing interest rates, heal the banks and Wall Street so they can continue doing exactly what they were doing only now they laugh at Main Street and the POTUS. AND now lets re-invent W's war, that even he was smart enough to see he could not win. Besides what constitutes winning?
    Trillions spent on every dog with a fea, but we still have growing homeless, uninsured, and people dying without insurance. SOL America, and business as usual.

    Next elections I will spend my shoe leather going door to door to make sure the POTUS is not reelected, and neither are any membes of the House or Senate on both sides of the Aisle.

    December 6, 2009 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
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