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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Yesterday the TDS staff post noted some of the recent polling about the U.S. withdrawall from Afghanistan. At MSNBC, Steve Benen shares some more polling on the topic. “On Monday, the latest Politico/Morning Consult poll found support for withdrawal had dropped sharply compared to April’s results, but a plurality nevertheless sided with Biden’s position: 49% backed the U.S. exit from Afghanistan, while 39% did not. The poll was conducted while Americans confronted a weekend of headlines about the Taliban returning to power….The latest findings from Data for Progress pointed in a similar direction. ‘New polling from Data for Progress shows that voters still support President Biden’s decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, even after learning that Taliban fighters have captured these cities. Voters support the decision to withdraw by a 14-point margin, including Democrats by a 51-point margin, Independents by a 13-point margin, and nearly a third of Republicans.’ Though there were predictable partisan divisions, the overall results found 51% of Americans endorsing the decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan, while 37% were opposed to the policy. (The poll was conducted between Aug. 13 to 16.)…As NBC News reported overnight, the same survey results found that a 55% majority of the public also supports the Biden administration speeding up the process of giving immigrant visas to U.S. allies in Afghanistan, as opposed to 30% who believe the administration should take no additional action to bring Afghans here….Even a plurality of Republican voters sided with the White House on this issue.”

Benen continues, “In other words, there does not appear to be any kind of backlash against the president’s policy toward Afghanistan. A narrow majority appears to believe Biden’s policies are the right ones, despite the recent unrest and the Taliban’s return to power in Kabul….To be sure, public attitudes can change quickly, and there’s no shortage of unpredictable variables. It’s possible, for example, that support for the president’s agenda could actually grow as the chaotic images fade from view. If operations run relatively smoothly in the coming days and weeks, the likelihood of a public backlash will grow more remote….On the other hand, much of the media coverage in recent days has emphasized bipartisan opposition to Biden’s policy, which often helps shape opinions. Similarly, if conditions in Afghanistan deteriorate further, it’s easy to imagine many Americans souring on the administration’s efforts.”….Andrew Romano reports on the findings of a Yahoo News poll, conducted Aug. 16 to 18, which “found that while 50 percent of respondents said one month ago that they favored the decision to “withdraw all [U.S.] combat troops from Afghanistan by the end of August,” just 40 percent say the same today. Over the same period, opposition to Biden’s plan to withdraw increased from 22 percent to 28 percent….At the same time, more Americans still favor the U.S. withdrawal than oppose it — and there are early signs that the political fallout for the president could be limited in the long run.”

Alexandra Hutzler notes at Newsweek that “A new Reuters poll conducted Monday found Biden’s approval rating dipped to 46 percent nationally, a seven-point decrease from just last Friday when the president enjoyed a 53 percent approval rating….Behind Biden’s sliding approval numbers are independent voters, noted FiveThirtyEight’s Geoffrey Skelley….The Reuters poll found a majority of Americans, 61 percent, still support completing the withdrawal of American troops on schedule. Biden had previously set a deadline of August 31 to remove combat forces from Afghanistan….Most people surveyed, 68 percent, also agreed with the statement that the war in Afghanistan was going to end badly no matter when the U.S. military left….But Biden was rated worse than the other three presidents who presided over the United States’ longest war. Just 44 percent of respondents said the current administration has done a good job presiding over the war. Forty-seven percent thought the Bush administration did a good job, while 51 percent thought the Obama and Trump administrations did a good job.”

At U.S. News, Chris Kahn notes that “A separate Ipsos snap poll, also conducted on Monday, found that fewer than half of Americans liked the way Biden has steered the U.S. military and diplomatic effort in Afghanistan this year. The president, who just last month praised Afghan forces for being “as well-equipped as any in the world,” was rated worse than the other three presidents who presided over the United States’ longest war….The Ipsos poll found that 75% of Americans supported the decision to send in additional troops to secure key facilities in Afghanistan until the withdrawal is complete, and about the same number supported the evacuation of Afghans who helped U.S. forces in the country….Yet Americans appeared to be largely unsettled on what to think of the war, with majorities expressing somewhat contradictory views about what the U.S. military should have done.” At FiveThirtyEight, Geoffrey Skelley examines a series of recent polls, and concludes, “On the whole, we don’t expect to see a big shift in Biden’s approval rating, given just how polarized American politics are. But it’s also impossible to currently ascertain the longer-term consequences of the Taliban’s takeover, such as a potential increase in terrorism. It’s possible that what’s happened in Afghanistan will dominate headlines for weeks to come, but even that’s uncertain. After all, American news coverage of Afghanistan has surged before, only to quickly evaporate. And even if the spotlight stays on the crisis in Afghanistan, that doesn’t necessarily mean Biden will lose ground in approval.” Skelley shares a chart showing recent polling data:

Share of Americans who supported or opposed the decision to remove U.S. military troops from Afghanistan in polls conducted since July 1, 2021, by the most recent poll available

Politico/Morning Consult* Aug. 13-16 49% 37% +12
Redfield & Wilton Strategies Aug. 2-3 49 19 +30
Chicago Council on Global Affairs July 7-26 70 29 +41
Echelon Insights July 19-23 64 22 +42
Yahoo News/YouGov July 13-15 50 22 +28
The Economist/YouGov July 10-13 57 20 +37
Politico/Morning Consult July 9-12 59 25 +34
The Hill/HarrisX July 2-3 73 27 +46

*Poll was conducted as news broke over the weekend that the Taliban were making advances into Kabul, forcing the evacuation of U.S. and allied personnel.


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