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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority


Schor: Why Dems Must Rebrand to Include Working-Class

Freddie Sayers interviews political analyst David Schor at unherd.com. Schor shares several insights about what is keeping the Democratic Party from achieving a working majority, including:

College educated people have taken over the branding and issue prioritisation of the Democratic Party, at the expense of working class white people who were in the party and working class non-white people who are in the party, and that’s driving people away. That’s really dangerous. Because in the Democratic Party, if you don’t have non-white conservatives, and you’re just a party of educated, white liberals, that gets you to 25%-30% of the vote….White people with a college degree who are under the age of 34 are less than 5% of the electorate, but they are literally a majority of people who work in politics…so I think it’s very easy for us to develop an inflated sense of how progressive the electorate is or how much people share our values.

Shor has more to say about what Democrats should do to win a stable majority. Here is the rest of the interview:

Teixeira: Coronavirus + Economic Sputtering = Big Trouble

The following article by Ruy Teixeira, author of The Optimistic Leftist and other works of political analysis, is cross-posted from his blog:

Afghanistan is in the news and may indeed contribute to Biden and the Democrats’ current poor showing in the polls. But the story that the country has veered off track was already there and in all likelihood Afghanistan-related troubles are simply building on that rather than creating a new story.

Check out the chart below from Morning Consult showing coronavirus case trends vs. consumer confidence. That’s what I call a clear relationship. The coronavirus surge has take a huge toll on what Democrats’ were hoping, not unreasonably, would be a “morning in America” situation with a roaring return to social and economic normality. No more, at least not now.

And there’s this from a very useful recent Times report on the uneven nature of current economic performance:

“[T]he recovery remains uneven and rattled by a rare set of economic crosswinds. In some sectors, consumer demand remains depressed. In others, spending is high but supply constraints — whether for materials or workers or both — are pushing up prices.

For instance, the construction sector has regained most of the jobs lost early in the pandemic, and other industries, such as warehousing, have actually grown. But restaurants and hotels still employ millions fewer people than they did in February 2020. The result: There are more college graduates working in the United States today than when the pandemic began, but five million fewer workers without a college degree.

Compounding the problem, employment in the biggest cities fell further than in smaller cities and rural areas, and it has rebounded more slowly. Employment among workers without a college degree living in the biggest cities is down more than 5 percent since February 2020, compared with about 2 percent for workers without a college degree in other parts of the country.”

As I have repeatedly noted, the Democrats have very serious ongoing problems with working class voters. This is not going to help.

Dems Must Face New Realities Regarding Filibuster Reform, Supreme Court

From “Democrats rush to find strategy to counter Texas abortion law” by Hugo Lowell at The Guardian:

Seizing on the Texas decision, liberal Democrats have also called anew for an expansion of the supreme court from nine to 13 seats, which would enable Biden to appoint four liberal-leaning justices to shift the politics on the bench.

The legislative response is aimed at reversing more than 500 restrictions introduced by Republican state legislatures in recent months and “trigger laws” that would automatically outlaw abortions if the supreme court overturned its ruling in the landmark Roe v Wade case that was supposed to cement abortion rights in the US.

But while such protections are almost certain to be straightforwardly approved by the Democratic-controlled House, all of the proposals face a steep uphill climb in the face of sustained Republican opposition and a filibuster in the 50-50 Senate.

The Senate filibuster rule – a procedural tactic that requires a supermajority to pass most bills – was in part why the Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, focused on stacking the supreme court with conservative justices rather than pursue legislation to enact abortion restrictions at a federal level.

Forty-eight Democrats currently sponsor the Women’s Health Protection Act in the Senate. Two Republicans – Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski – have previously indicated support for abortion rights, but the numbers fall far short of the 60-vote threshold required to avoid a filibuster.

Against that backdrop, a majority of Senate Democrats have called for eliminating the filibuster entirely. But reforming the filibuster requires the support of all Democrats in the Senate, and conservative Democratic senators including West Virginia’s Joe Manchin and Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema are outspoken supporters of the rule.

The broad concern demonstrates how urgent the issue has become for Democrats, and with the Texas law in effect after the failure of the emergency stay, many reproductive rights advocates worry that Democrats will be unable to meet the moment with meaningful action.

The heat is on Republican Senators Murkowski and especially Collins for her repeated assertions that Justice Kavanaugh would defend the settled law of Roe v. Wade. Democratic Sens. Manchin and Sinema have stated their opposition to filibuster reform, but U.S. political history is littered with examples of politicians who reversed or walked back earlier positions to more realistic compromises.

The Texas decision ought to be a game-changer in terms of mobilizing moderate women of both parties. The other alternative is a Democratic upset in the 2022 midterm elections, including a pick-up of 2 or 3 U.S. Senate seats, which would make Manchin’s and Sinema’s filibuster positions of less consequence.

Meanwhile, Democrats must adjust to the sobering reality that ‘the Roberts Court‘ is now history and brace for more partisan Supreme Court decisions going forward.

Josh Marshall: Putting Biden/Dems Political Moment in Perspective

At Talking Points Memo, Editor Josh Marshall puts the current political moment, the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, the fate of the infrastructure package and Biden’s agenda in political perspective. “What is really important,” Marshall writes, “is that Democrats are looking at a window of six to eight weeks which will decide the fate of the President’s fiscal, infrastructure and climate agenda. That is September and October basically and whether we’ll end this window with the two conjoined bills in something like their current or proposed form on the President’s desk.”

Marshall adds, “The mechanics of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan really shouldn’t have anything to do whether we pass critical climate legislation or refundable child tax credits. But it has a lot to do with it. Elected officials want to stay close to a popular President and show independence from a less popular one. And we are going into a period in which the President and Democratic leaders in Congress will need to keep literally every Democratic Senator on the same page and all but three Reps in the House. It’s not a great time for the President to look weak or getting beat up politically. But here we are.”

Looking ahead, Marshall writes,

So what’s to be done? Well, that really depends on who you are and where you are. But clarity is helpful. There’s a good chance Democrats will lose unified control of Congress – and thus the ability to pass legislation – next year no matter what they do. Realizing that can actually be a bit liberating since it allows you to focus on passing as much important legislation as possible without too much distraction of calibrating it for political protection. If you get the critical legislation passed the consequences of losing congressional control are significantly reduced. After all, Democrats will have at least two years with a Democratic President after the 2022 elections. Of course, what is added to this, what is clarifying is that Democrats political prospects are almost certainly bettered by passing the President’s agenda. But even if they weren’t it would be the wisest course. Substance and political self-interest both point in the same direction.

What it all comes down to is that the President’s approval numbers don’t terribly matter. As a political matter, the situation in Afghanistan doesn’t matter that much. All that really matters is passing the President’s agenda over the next two months. Passing critical legislation is why you elect people in the first place. And passing big legislation builds political power.

The power to accomplish all this is 100% in Democrats hands right now. They just have to stick together to get it done. They need to keep stragglers from straying. The public gloom over COVID not being over makes that harder. The situation in Afghanistan makes that harder. But getting that central, critical task done is really all that matters.

Put another way, Democrats must stay pro-active, and not let the Republicans drive the debate. Hold the GOP accountable for their dangerous policies and corruption, but don’t let them dominate media coverage. In the months ahead, Dems must reject internecine sniping, and demonstrate an impressive level of unified message discipline. Show swing voters who is in charge, when it comes to passing popular reforms and moving America forward.

Teixeira: Understanding the Distinctiveness of Hispanic Experience

The following article by Ruy Teixeira, author of The Optimistic Leftist and other works of political analysis, is cross-posted from his blog:

The use of the term “people of color” frequently obscures more than it clarifies since it is typically used to imply a unity of experience, particularly disadvantaging experience, among all nonwhites. The inclusion of Asians already makes little sense when you compare the socioeconomic outcomes of Asians to whites, where the former are generally superior.

But it is also the case that conflating the experiences of “black and brown”, a common locution among progressives, is also misleading. In fact, one needs to understand the distinctiveness of Hispanic experience in today’s America to have a prayer of understanding recent political trends among this population and what they may portend for the future.

Start with economic outcomes. Noah Smith wrote in a very interesting recent substack post:

“The boom of 2014-2019 — and it was a boom, even though we kind of ignored it — was good for everyone, but in percentage terms it was especially good for Hispanics….In fact, despite some claims to the contrary, Hispanic upward mobility has been a fact of American life for a long time now. My favorite paper on this is Chetty, Hendren, Jones & Porter (2018), which assessed mobility across generations. They found:

“We study the sources of racial and ethnic disparities in income using de-identified longitudinal data covering nearly the entire U.S. population from 1989-2015….[T]he intergenerational persistence of disparities varies substantially across racial groups. For example, Hispanic Americans are moving up significantly in the income distribution across generations because they have relatively high rates of intergenerational income mobility…

Hispanic Americans are moving up significantly in the income distribution across generations. For example, a model of intergenerational mobility analogous to Becker and Tomes (1979) predicts that the gap will shrink from the 22 percentile difference between Hispanic and white parents observed in our sample…to 6 percentiles in steady state…

Hispanics are on an upward trajectory across generations and may close most of the gap between their incomes and those of whites…Their low levels of income at present thus appear to to be primarily due to transitory factors.”

Smith goes on to note that two-thirds of Hispanics believe they are better off than their parents were at similar ages and calls attention to data showing a spike in Hispanic college attendance over the last 15 years and precipitous decline in the level of high school dropouts among this population. Perhaps even more interesting is the experience of Hispanics with the criminal justice system. It helps elucidate why Hispanics were not so caught up in the “racial reckoning” after the police killing of George Floyd and were actively turned off by the morphing of the BLM protests into calls to defund the police.

Here is some very interesting data and analysis from a post by Keith Humphreys on Matt Yglesias’ substack:

“An otherwise dull new government report on incarceration contains a startling fact: Hispanics are slightly less likely to be jailed than whites. It’s one of multiple unappreciated signs of fading disparities between Hispanics and non-Hispanic whites in the criminal justice system, a phenomenon with substantial implications both for the future of reform and electoral politics….

This isn’t just about city and county jails. A Council on Criminal Justice analysis found that in 2000, the rate of being on probation was 1.6 times higher and the rate of being parole was 3.6 times higher for Hispanics than non-Hispanic whites. But by 2016, the probation disparity had disappeared and the parole disparity had shrunk by 85%. Hispanics still faced a 60% higher risk of being incarcerated in a state prison.

This is an enormous and worrying disparity, but the Council noted that it decreased by 60% since 2000. African-American and white disparities in parole, probation, jail, and incarceration have also declined in this century, but dwarf those that remain between Hispanics and whites….

Parallel changes appear in who the criminal justice system employs. From 1997 to 2016, the proportion of police officers who were African-American was stable, whereas the proportion who were Hispanic increased 61%. This helps explain why a June 2021 Gallup poll found that the proportion of Hispanics expressing “a lot” or “a great deal” of trust in police was 49%, almost as high as whites (56%), and far greater than that of African-Americans (27%). Hispanic views on policing and crime may also be similar to whites because the two groups rate of being violent crime victims is almost identical (21.3 per thousand persons for Hispanics, 21.0 for whites)…

[P]oliticians and activists should not assume that anti-police rhetoric will resonate with Hispanic voters, particularly in communities with heavily Hispanic police forces. Democrats’ weak performance with Latino voters (not just Cubans) in Miami-Dade County in 2020 stopped President Biden from winning the state and knocked two Democratic Members of Congress out of office. And while Trump’s Hispanic gains in other states do not appear to have been decisive, it’s easy to imagine these trends mattering in upcoming Senate races in Arizona, Nevada, and elsewhere….

[A]ll social movements contain the seeds of their own demise because if they succeed, their members are satisfied and begin drifting away. Reduced involvement in the correctional system and rising employment by and trust in police represent progress for Hispanics and should be celebrated; yet they also may lower the willingness of some Hispanics to get engaged with the criminal justice reform movement the country needs. This is not inevitable if reformers are willing to modify their rallying cry.

Currently, many advocates, academics, journalists, and politicians invoke the putatively unified “Black and Brown” experience of the criminal justice system as a rationale and engine for reform. The power of this messaging will wane as Brown experience becomes more like white experience. A different framing that might keep Hispanics at the barricades — as well as draw in many whites — would be to emphasize how the country’s extraordinarily high level of incarceration and community supervision per se harms all racial and ethnic groups.

Having over 6.3 million adults incarcerated or on probation or parole at any given time is a massive drain on American liberty, health, and finances, and is as likely to increase crime as reduce it. The message reformers can and should sell is that even if all racial and ethnic disparities within the criminal justice system disappeared tomorrow, shrinking the correctional system to a rational size would benefit all of America’s diverse communities.”

This is exactly right. Taking into account the distinctiveness of Hispanic experience leads directly to this kind of political approach. We shall see if progressives and activists are willing to adjust their current approach in this direction.

Biden’s Agenda Popular, But Midterm Apathy a Formidable Obstacle for Dems

Adam Wollner has a warning for Democrats in his article, “Democrats are trying to sell Biden’s agenda. But key voters aren’t paying attention” at McClatchy:

“What we find is people are checking out at record high levels because they feel everything is contentious, exhausting and divisive,” said Celinda Lake, a veteran Democratic pollster who worked on Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign. “It speaks to what a steep hill we’re climbing.”

Lake said she is seeing lingering political fatigue particularly among swing women voters and irregular Democratic-leaning voters, including younger and Black Americans, groups that were critical to Biden’s 2020 victory.

She said the degree to which these voters are now intentionally checking out of politics is a “brand new phenomenon” that is presenting unique hurdles for Democrats. The party is planning to make Biden’s economic agenda a cornerstone of its campaign to maintain control of the U.S. House and Senate next year.

“We know how to deal with benign neglect,” Lake said. “But now with a more deliberate strategy, when we need people to feel engaged, it is much more dangerous.”

Wollner notes, further, “And on top of a general disillusionment with politics, Americans across the board are still navigating a disruptive pandemic that has continued to overshadow most other political issues….“People are trying to sort out their own lives rather than sort out the nation’s business, and that makes it much tougher to move an agenda forward,” said longtime Democratic pollster Peter Hart. “It’s not so much the administration is making mistakes as it is the sign of the times.” Also,
Even though the midterm elections are more than 14 months away, Democrats say they need to shore up public support for Biden’s agenda now to avoid the losses the party in power have historically experienced in a president’s first term.

Some of that effort is already underway. The Biden-aligned nonprofit group Building Back Together is spending $10 million on ads this summer promoting the president’s agenda, and the party’s campaign committees encouraged lawmakers to focus on economic policies during the August recess. Democrats hope Biden will be able to sign the $1.2 trillion infrastructure and $3.5 trillion budget packages Congress is currently considering into law this fall.

While the party is struggling to reach some voters with their early messaging, Democrats are confident that Biden’s agenda is popular. For instance, a new polling memo from the Democratic-aligned nonprofit group Future Majority and shared with McClatchy showed that 57% of voters across 37 battleground congressional districts support the bipartisan infrastructure legislation. Among undecided independents, 63% support it.

Wollner adds, “Democrats are hopeful their economic pitch will be persuasive for swing and progressive voters alike. But for young and Black voters, who are traditionally less likely to vote in midterm elections, some strategists warn the party needs to do more to ensure they turn out in 2022.”

Rakich: Census Data Gives Dems ‘Redistricting Lifeline’

From “Where America Lost and Gaines Population Could Throw Democrats a Redistricting Lifeline” by Nathaniel Rakich at FiveThirtyEight:

With the release of block-level data from the 2020 census, we now have a much clearer picture of how and where the U.S. population has grown — and shrunk — over the past 10 years. And while Republicans are largely setting the terms of the redistricting process that will ensue from this announcement, the data throws a much-needed lifeline to Democrats.

It’s not because of the country’s increasing racial diversity, though. Sure, under current electoral coalitions (where white voters are more likely to vote Republican and voters of color are more likely to vote Democratic), it’s arguably better for Democrats if the nonwhite population grows. But even in a country where only 58 percent of residents are non-Hispanic white, the 2020 presidential election was still very competitive. And electoral coalitions can change — for instance, Republicans may continue to gain groundamong nonwhite voters in future elections.

Teixeira: After Afghanistan – Back to the Domestic Front

The following article by Ruy Teixeira, author of The Optimistic Leftist and other works of political analysis, is cross-posted from his blog:

Afghanistan is a mess and it’s fair to say the administration has not covered themselves with glory. All the more reason to stick the landing, as it were, on their domestic program. John Halpin breaks down the challenge in his new piece on The Liberal Patriot:

“Hoping to move beyond its self-described mistakes on the withdrawal effort from Afghanistan, the Biden team is wisely restating its commitment to domestic renewal and investment as a means of taking on China (and Russia) in the world. TLP has strongly supported this effort and as a strategy for long-term action, it’s a grand idea.

The problem, of course, is turning ambitions for new legislation totaling trillions of dollars in spending into practical policies that prepare America’s economy and workers for the future – and equally important, are perceived by voters as helping them directly in terms of jobs, wages, educational opportunities, and family security.

As seen on the highly popular American Rescue Plan, support for “big, bold” action steadily fades over time as the immediate impact of policies like stimulus checks or public health measures turn into less noticeable or understood spending in other areas.

With the Democrats now rushing to write reconciliation legislation on “soft” infrastructure approaching $3.5 trillion – on top of the Senate’s $1.2 trillion in “hard” infrastructure spending – the risk of screwing this up is high. For proponents of active government, the cost of getting these domestic spending plans wrong in terms of structure and implementation will be even greater than the “miscalculations” on foreign policy.”

He makes some recommendations on how to avoid screwing up:

“1. Design of policies matters as much as the price tag. If Democrats are honest with themselves, they know they are flying blind somewhat in trying to write a set of plans to restructure American infrastructure and social policy in a few weeks. The risk of passing a huge bill that no one really understands or has thought through into terms of execution is serious and could fatally wound the effort to make smart economic investments and convince voters that their plans are working to help Americans – and help America in its competition with China….

2. Social policies should be universal and not targeted. The rush to pass important social policy could easily lead to efforts to scale them back for cost or other reasons by “targeting” specific groups or regions. This would be a huge mistake. The last thing Democrats need is to pass a monstrous reconciliation bill that leaves out many Americans, thus reducing its impact and increasing the perception that government only benefits certain favored groups….

3. No waste or corruption or random spending will be tolerated. Having just lived through the “we wasted trillions of dollars in Afghanistan and got nothing but defeat” narrative, Biden and the Democrats can ill afford to have similar sentiments set in on its domestic plans. This is particularly true on the “hard” investments in roads, bridges, broadband, and climate mitigation where the potential for boondoggles and dodgy spending is dangerously high.”

He concludes:

“The Biden team’s desired shift from the failures of the past to strategic competition with China is smart. But problems and screw-ups in one area can easily bleed into others if they are not careful.

The administration has a real opportunity to begin rebuilding public trust in government action by designing and implementing a serious multi-year effort to strengthen American families and businesses – and prove that America itself is back in the world.”

Read the whole piece at the The Liberal Patriot! I would also add the the current demonization of the nine House moderates who are seeking an immediate vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill or BIF is not helpful to a successful legislative process that avoids these pitfalls.

Politico Playbook reports:

“The Justice Democrats have teamed up with Indivisible, the Sunrise Movement, Organize for Justice, MoveOn and the Working Families Party to launch a six-figure ad buy targeting the nine “Mod Squad” members.” Great. This is a delicate process with razor thing margins where frankly any small group of Democrats has leverage–heck, in the Senate it can be just one person!

That’s a reality that no amount of attack ads is going to change. Rather than attacking the nine as sellout scum, it would be more useful to understand where they are coming from and seek common ground that assumes their motivations are not entirely venal.

Bill Scher in The Washington Monthly remarks:

“The threat from the nine can be explained with a…straightforward reason, one that both [Jonathan] Chait and [Greg] Sargent acknowledged before ultimately dismissing. “The moderates’ desperation to pass the infrastructure bill is perfectly understandable. It’s a popular bill that has wide Republican support and the perfect issue to support their message that they can work across party lines,” writes Chait. Says Sargent, “The charitable view of the centrist position is that it’s a political imperative for them to campaign in their districts solely on passage of a bipartisan bill with ‘hard’ infrastructure, one that isn’t tangled up in the politics of the reconciliation bill, which is associated with House progressives.”

Several of the nine represent purple districts and would rather sell a clean bipartisan victory to their constituents than explain they have to wait to get money for roads and bridges until AOC gets what she wants. Golden represents a Trump-won district. The second-term Gottheimer won with a smaller margin in 2020 than 2018, as Trump pulled nearly 47 percent from his constituents. The first-term Bourdeaux won her race by less than three points and Georgia Republicans may well make her district redder in redistricting. The three Texans represent Hispanic-majority Rio Grande Valley districts in which Donald Trump hit at least 47 percent, and these may also get unfavorably redistricted by statehouse Republicans. However, one of those Texans, Rep. Vela is not worried by 2022, because he’s retiring. So progressives and party leaders have a different challenge with him; Vela can’t be pressured with short-term political considerations.

Instead of trying to shame the moderates into submission, a better idea for progressives would be to listen to them, understand their needs, and maybe even gain the trust that they will soon enough need to support a sizable reconciliation bill with transformational new programs and initiatives, even if the topline is not quite as big as progressives want.

As Sargent notes, “The only way to make this work is to make both factions happy at the end of the day” through Biden’s two-track strategy. But it’s still a two-track strategy if the first train reaches the station this month, and the next one comes in a couple months later.”

Sen. Sanders Energizes Push for Democratic Unity

Democratic moderates and liberals have their diffferences about the Administration’s infrastucture package. But amid the current tensions, there are encouraging signs that Dems are coming together to move the Biden administration’s agenda forward. In “Sanders traveling to Iowa, Indiana to pitch Biden’s spending package,” Jordan Carney reports at The Hill:

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is hitting the road to pitch Democrats’ $3.5 trillion spending plan, which they are hoping to pass through Congress later this year. 

Sanders, who chairs the Senate Budget Committee and led the talks on the blueprint for the spending package, will travel later this month to Indiana and Iowa, where he’ll hold a town hall on Aug. 27 and Aug. 29, respectively.

Senate Democrats approved a budget earlier this month that will allow them to write and pass a $3.5 trillion spending package as soon as next month without GOP support. The spending package is expected to include top priorities like child care, expanding Medicare, combating climate change and immigration reform.

Carney adds that “Sanders will travel to two congressional districts where former President Trump increased his number of voters between 2016 and 2020, according to details from Sanders’s political apparatus.” Sanders explains further, “While it will have no Republican support in Washington, Democrats, independents and working-class Republicans all over the country support our plan to finally invest in the long-neglected needs of working families.”

Carney notes further, “Congressional Republicans are lining up in unified opposition against the $3.5 trillion spending package, and Democrats are facing pushback from moderates in both chambers who are sending warning signals that they want to lower the price tag. Democrats need total unity in the Senate, and near total unity in the House, to pass the plan under budget rules that let them avoid the normal 60-vote Senate hurdle.” In addition,

But Biden and congressional Democrats are betting that they’ll be able to sell their plan to swing voters and some Republicans outside of Washington by emphasizing its health care, child care and housing benefits. The strategy is similar to the COVID-19 relief bill that Democrats passed on their own earlier this year but touted as bipartisan because it picked up support in polling from GOP voters.

And they’re hoping to be able to tout the plan, as well as a $1.2 trillion infrastructure package, heading into the 2022 midterms, where their control of the House and Senate are at stake. Biden has put both at the center of his legislative agenda.

A Quinnipiac University poll released earlier this month found that Americans supported a $3.5 trillion spending plan for social programs, including child care, education and expanding Medicare for seniors, 62 percent to 32 percent.

Democratic progressives and moderates will continue to butt heads about federal spending levels, as well as social issues. But it’s good to see the party’s top progressive working with moderates for a unified Democratic agenda.

Polls Show Solid Support for Withdrawal from Afghanistan

Although nearly everyone is horrified by the images of the chaotic U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Biden Administration has broad support for ending the U.S. military role in that nation. Dina Smeltz and Emily Sullivan report that “the just-completed 2021 Chicago Council Survey, fielded July 7-26, shows that seven in ten Americans continue to back this decision.” Further,

When asked whether they support or oppose the decision to withdraw US forces from Afghanistan by September 11, 2021, the 2021 Chicago Council Survey finds that 70 percent of Americans support it (29% oppose). This support spans partisan affiliations, though larger majorities of Democrats (77%) and Independents (73%) than Republicans (56%) agree.

These results corroborate the findings of other polls conducted over the past several months. A May Quinnipiac poll found that 62 percent approved of President Biden’s decision to withdraw all US troops from Afghanistan by September 11 of this year, and an April Economist/YouGov poll found that 58 percent approved of the plan for withdrawal by September 11. The Economist/YouGov poll also found that majorities in military households (61%) and just over half of those currently serving in the military (52%) or those who served in the past (53%) supported the withdrawal.

The usual caveats about how polling questions are phrased apply. As Smeltz and Sullivan add:

American attitudes toward Afghanistan are somewhat sensitive to wording as well as policy. An April 2021 Fox News poll found that more Americans said the United States should keep some troops in the country for counterterrorism operations (50%) than said that the US should remove all troops from the country (37%). And even though a solid majority of Americans in the 2021 Chicago Council Survey support the troop withdrawal, as recently as last January a Chicago Council poll showed that Americans were equally divided on whether the United States should have (48%) or should not have (49%) long term bases there. However, at the same time, two-thirds said that the war in Afghanistan had not been worth the costs (65%, 32% worth it).

For a longer-term look at attitudes toward US policy in Afghanistan, Karlyn Bowman offers a comprehensive summary.

Of course polls taken since the chaotic withdrawall images appeared will matter more than those reported so far. Republicans will keep flogging the withdrawal chaos meme in an attempt to discredit President Biden. But any honest discussion about Afghanistan will provoke mention that the Republicans started the mess, and ask why they didn’t conduct an orderly withdrawal during the previous administration when they had the chance. With this context in mind, significant longer-term damage to Biden’s approval ratings because of the end of our military presence in Afghanistan appears unlikely.