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. valwayne

    Imagine you are a soldier risking his/her life in Afghanistan or you are about to be sent to risk your life over the next 6 months or so. After watching Obama dither month after month you finally got to watch his decision and speech. What did you see? A President who decided to send 3/4 of the troops his Generals requested. A President who is so committed to the mission and victory over the Taliban and Murdering Terrorists that he's going to start pulling troops out just after the last ones in the current surge arrive. The Taliban and the Murdering Terrorists also know that troops will start leaving in 18 months. Is what our soldiers deserver from the nation?

    December 6, 2009 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  2. imalwaysright

    The "change" is there's a plan.

    December 6, 2009 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  3. Randall from Detroit now in Torrance, CA - Desert Storm Veteran - To: "Bill"

    Bill, you seem like an intelligent man and I served with the Marines too but am now USN retired. Do you really think Obama could pull off not being a U.S. citizen and then getting elected to the Illinois Senate? There would have been a lot of people in the bureacracy to have missed that fact. How do you explian that? Everyone who had a need-to-know actually had no physical legitimate artifact (i.e., a birth certificate) to prove his citizenship??? That is absurd. I am a securiy administrator for the Department of Defense and I'm here to tell you that nobody even gets a job with the government without being vetted 100%. How can you possibly believe that everyone in the chain of responsibility for vetting Obama's citizenship failed to notice Barack is not a U.S. citizen? If Obama is not a U.S. citizen, then America has bigger problems than we ever imagined. If that were the case, we owe the Director of the Secret Service a formal apology when he said he was responsible for not stopping the two Whiten House dinner crashers the other day recently. The Secret Service actions pale in comparison if the government actually failed to validate Obama before he made it to the Senate and now as POTUS.

    The illegal immigrant problem is significant, but don't you think that stopping endless unnecesary wars would free up some federal money to help with health care? Opponents to health care reform are quick to say the government has no business providing health care and running such a system in the first place. But they see nothing wrong with allowing insurance company CEOs and companies to rake in billions of dollars in profits while the least amongst us die without that access every year. Every U.S. Senator and congressman should get on their knees and ask God to forgive them for how neglegent and irresponsible they are for ignoring and shunning those who need but cannot afford basic medical care in this blessed "In-God-We-Trust" nation. It's inexcusable.

    December 6, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  4. Truth-Bomb Thrower

    I was all for the invasion of Afghanistan, but when the U.S. government started seeing nation building as the main goal instead of the killing or apprehending Bin Laden and his lieutenants is when the war effort went awry in my opinion.

    The fact of the matter is we can kill all the people we want, spend all the money we want, and have all the photo ops we want, and it won't make any difference in the end. The Taliban (and afghan government corruption in general) is like weeds that have already gone to seed. As soon as we leave and stop tending the garden, the weeds will just spring back and the Taliban will be as strong as ever. Everyone who is killed in Afghanistan is dying in vain. We need to capture or kill Bin Laden, swiftly execute him, and the GET OUT! Unfortunately the Pakistani military could have Bin Laden TOMORROW if it really wanted him, but that is a whole different story.

    December 6, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  5. Rush

    It's got to be that way. We love you President Obama!

    December 6, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  6. ICARE

    It's sad that WE always have to do the dirty job and spend billions and trillions while other countries benefit from it. Do we have to pay back our debtors? Cant they forgive us the way we forgive others for their debts?

    December 6, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  7. Jerry

    It's about time this idiot President did something half-right. Announcing the 2011 withdrawal was the most moronic decision about a war that I have seen a president of the USA make in my life-time.

    Now if he could make a half-right decision on the health care issue, his ratings might go back above 50 per cent.

    December 6, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  8. ICARE

    Well, investing in war is a bad idea for now. The Obie camp really needs to sit down and strategize what can be done to grow jobs. He needs to sit down with Nobel Prize economists and INVEST heavily in sectors that will grow future job.

    This is the job we voted him to do, not chase after a dying dog. We could use that military money to jumpstart just about every private sector that will fuel job growth.

    Go green or go extinct!! We should have invest heavily into green jobs in the past 8 years, but instead, we invested in DA war.

    It's sad to see him follow the same path of the Zombies.

    December 6, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  9. Fan of Common Sense

    If we are not going to devote ourselves to one goal and ONE GOAL ONLY–and that is CAPTURE AND/OR KILL BIN LADEN and his cronies–then we need to get out and get out NOW!! Enough of this nation building nonsense. All these people know is tyranny, corruption, and violence. It's simply ingrained in their culture. We're tyring to teach chimps how to play chess for God sake!

    December 6, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  10. ICARE

    About the announcing date... I dont think Obie Kenobie had a choice. People want to know a start date and an end date. They dont want to see USA committed to the land of the wandering zombies so he had to give it a date, but you know, date are meaningless.

    I dont know. I dont know where he got or who recommended Mc Chrystal to him. I cant believe the first thing this general wanted to do was go out there and chase them devils without even thinking the whole picture. Obama had to actually sit down for months and review the whole entire thing.

    For one thing, I think Bush is the smarter man for not pursuing or doing anything about the Afghan war.

    December 6, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  11. ICARE

    To A Canadian

    Funny that you said those words, I was thinking about DAT myself. We spend billions overseas and we get nothing back and WE'RE Totally HAPPY.

    We start spending on ourselves and everyone CRIES socialism. We shouldnt ask the government to provide for us, but it's right to ask the government to do the right thing and UNIFORMLY serve all for the better.

    Sorry to disappoint you but US citizens were never too bright 🙂

    December 6, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  12. Bill

    Selina, it's good that you enjoy Glen and company. I tried watching him cry daily and it looks really pathetic. It's good that you enjoy Bill. I tried watching him bully people and he is an uncomfortable person to look at with his mean streak. But in the end I just feel sad that these pions are just pawns in the Murdoch hate fest. At least the heartless and mindless folks in the US have a place to turn for their daily dose of pablum.
    Now for those idiots that think that marxism and socialism are somehow related, please do your research. Jesus was a socialist, not a marxist. You Fox sheep please try to remember that at church today.

    December 6, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  13. JonDie

    In 2001, Bush & Cheney sent our soldiers to hunt for bin Laden and to defeat the Taliban. Then they called it off.

    And by the begining of 2002 and all the way until late 2008, Bush & Cheney abandoned our troops in Afghanistan with no military leadership, no mission and no strategy.

    Republicans, including John "votes with Bush 90% of the time" McCain rubberstamped these Bush-Cheney mistakes that may have literally cost us any chance of defeating the Taliban no matter what Obama does.

    So I don't much care what these senile, old fools have to say about anything, especially anything about Afghanistan.

    December 6, 2009 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  14. slp

    JT the Show Me State College Freshman,

    Since you are so gungho on being "nice" when are you going to condemn the post that comes from your fellow liberal, Randall from Detroit. Have you read it? Scroll on down and take a look. Oh yeah, I forgot, you only tell conservatives who don't agree with you to be nice. You, my friend, have more growing up to do than you know. But you are young, maybe you will learn.

    December 6, 2009 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  15. Bill

    Hey woonsocket. Put a sock in it. Another birther that that can't think for yourself. Do your research, you moron.

    I was wondering if all you haters ever have a pleasant thought as you trod through your miserable hate filled lives?

    For all you haters of immigration, Feliz Navidad!

    December 6, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  16. ICARE

    I believe we will win! The muslim world is not going to come and help the Talibans. I believe most muslims do not like the way Talibans treat the human race. They're a twisted group.

    Meanwhile, set up camp and graze with the camels. We'll be there UNTIL the last DOG dies or until our debtors no longer finance any of our operations, (just like Rome).

    But while we are at it, let's also blow a mountain up to get to Iran. It will help save time and money for the next war with the Iranians.

    December 6, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  17. Eric

    According to what poll? I don't know a single person who agrees with the troop surge. All I hear everywhere is what a mistake!

    December 6, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  18. Mark B

    Carl December 6th, 2009 11:12 am ET
    Let's all remember that Afghanistan was BUSH'S MESS. He and Cheney created it over eight years of serious neglect.

    My god, you folks blaming bush for everything a year after he left office are as bad as the goons wanting to see Obamas Birth Certificate.

    I did not vote for Obama, but I do not like his policies. But I have dropped the Birtht hing and the Rev Wright crap. It is over, lets move past it.
    AND, all of you Obama supporters, let Bush go. It is time to get past it, it is NOW Obamas country to run and ruin. WHichever comes first.
    Bush is history,,,,, grow up and stop saying,,, he did it, he did it. Like some little playground school child.

    December 6, 2009 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  19. Go Barak Obama!!!!

    People need to understand there will be no open comittment to Afghanistan. If we gave open comittments to every country where Terorists were nomadically settled, while giving tax cuts to the rich, and making the poor/middle class fund our war. Our country would become bankrupt very quickly. This is just how Bush dismantled our economic system....with some assistance from fraudulent sub-prime mortgage CDO accounts by Hedgefund managers on deregulated Wall Street. Obama has been elected to implement the discontinuation of Coporate Socialism in America......and he's doing it. Good job Barak !!!!

    December 6, 2009 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  20. John

    To Bill:
    I find it ironic that you predict that only sending 500000 more troops will prevent another Vietnam, yet the solution you envision is EXACTLY what we've done in Vietnam. I haven't spent as long in the military as you have but I will be on my second tour soon so I do have some insight as to modern Warfare

    I've done grad school in econ and your theories on illegal immigration are factually incorrect, also you might want to research public goods and network externalities to get some insight as to why a private market ALONE cannot deal with things such as health care. but that's not the subject at hand.

    Modern Warfare isn't all about numbers anymore as it was during the 20th century, any military tactics class will tell you this within the first week. If it were easy it would have already been done.
    AS for all of those who are ranting about the withdrawal date from their couches, I will be THERE and I can assure you, that giving the sense of an open ended commitment is a strategic mistake.
    a) it is not the date at which the last soldier will be out, it is the START of the transfer of responsibilities, what is so confusing about that?

    b) even if the Taliban wait out for 2 years until we leave do you thing that WE will be waiting doing nothing? Do you thing that we will be leaving the country in the same strategic settings as it is today? Them waiting out would be the best thing that can happen to us, giving us time to regain tactical advantages throughout the country.

    c) right now pakistan is pushing hard on the taliban so even if they wanted to wait out 2 years they couldn't afford to do so.

    Now I don't agree with several issues that the president has put on the table, but Bill if you still believe that he isn't a citizen of this country then I think you are helpless. Because even with a high resolution scan of his birth certificate available online you will claim it's a fake, even if Jesus himself came down to say that he was born here you would say that that mustn't be Jesus.
    But the bottom line is that his mother was American (unless you believe that that is not true either) and so even if he was born in Kenya, he is born a UNited States Citizen. Deal with it. You can try to vote him out of office in 2012, that's how this great country wokrs.

    God bless the USA

    December 6, 2009 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  21. Michele

    "Geaux Tigers December 6th, 2009 12:09 pm ET

    Do any of you people that continue to bash Bush know that in 2006 the democrats took control of congress and that is when the economy started going down hill."

    Right, they took CONTROL with a slim majority and Bush vetoed every single bill they sent him that had anything to do with the "general welfare," and only signed war funding. The economy was headed downhill long before 2006...but it sure is easier to blame everything on Obama and the Dems, isn't it? And as far as the economy, think where we would be if Bush had not jumped at the chance to start another war, and spent all those unaccounted for trillions on his defense contractor friends? We could have had health care, a healthy economy, and not be in debt to China up to our eyeballs. It IS Bush's fault.

    December 6, 2009 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  22. Jeremiah

    just like iraq.....this will be the same result.....we dont learn do we?

    December 6, 2009 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  23. Jeremiah

    Gary- your liberal president is the one sending troops, not the repubs. Obama and Bush are both useless

    December 6, 2009 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  24. em

    Afghanistan war was inherited from GWB. President Obama has handled this war by actually examing all the aspects of the war.Going over details,strategy. What works,what doesn't. Planning a strategy and executing it..Using his brain,not his gut.

    December 6, 2009 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  25. Pragmatic

    Question: This is what President Obama has decided after careful consideration: Afghanistan has no easy answers: going in – staying in – pulling out all offer immense challenges.

    What do you think the alternative choice of leadership, McCain/Palin would have done ... and would you be happier with that decision?

    December 6, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
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