Most People Not Confident U.S. Policies in Afghanistan Will Be Successful

NEW YORK , N.Y. – November 2, 2010 – The latest Harris Poll of American attitudes on Afghanistan finds that only 12% of all adults are confident that U.S. policies there will be successful and fully 60% are not confident. It also finds that the public gives President Obama 58% negative and just 31% positive ratings on his handling of Afghanistan.

However, only one quarter (26%) of the public think that the U.S. should withdraw all its troops from Afghanistan now. One-third (34%) believe the U.S. should set a timetable for withdrawal while one in five say more troops should be sent to Afghanistan for a few months to stabilize the situation (22%) or are not sure (19%).

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 3,084 adults surveyed online between October 11 and 18, 2010.

Other findings in this Harris poll include:

  • The near 2-to-1 majority of all adults (58% to 31%) who give President Obama negative ratings has changed little since June (59% negative; 29% positive) but is more negative than it was in January (53% negative; 38% positive);
  • While half of Democrats (50%) give President Obama positive ratings on his handling of Afghanistan, almost two in five (38%) give him negative ratings, as do four in five Republicans (80%) and two-thirds of Independents (66%);
  • The 60% majority who are not confident that U.S. policies in Afghanistan will be successful has increased from 55% in June and 53% in January; and
  • Most people either see no real change in the situation in Afghanistan (49%) or are not sure (13%). Among those with an opinion, many more people think the situation is getting worse (27%) than think it is getting better (11%).

So What?

Given these polling numbers, the Democrats are perhaps lucky that so little attention has been paid to the situation in Afghanistan leading up to the mid-term elections. However, President Obama may not be as lucky as he starts planning for his re-election.


TABLE 1

PRESIDENT OBAMA AND AFGHANISTAN

How would you rate the job President Obama has done in handling Afghanistan over the last several months?

Base: All Adults

April 2009

Sept 2009

Nov 2009

Jan 2010

June 2010

Oct 2010

Political Party

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Positive (NET)

51

36

31

38

29

31

15

50

27

Excellent

10

5

4

7

3

6

4

10

4

Pretty Good

41

32

26

30

26

25

11

40

23

Negative (NET)

36

54

60

53

59

58

80

38

66

Only fair

26

35

33

31

33

33

36

30

36

Poor

10

19

27

22

26

26

44

8

30

Not sure

13

10

9

9

12

11

5

12

7

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding.

 

TABLE 2

SITUATION IN AFGHANISTAN

Do you think that the situation in Afghanistan is…?

Base: All Adults

July 2005

May 2007

August 2008

April 2009

Sept 2009

Nov 2009

Jan 2010

June 2010

Oct 2010

Political Party

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Getting better

17

12

11

12

8

6

11

10

11

9

17

8

Getting worse

30

26

37

28

42

47

32

29

27

30

22

33

No real change

37

36

35

45

41

39

46

49

49

52

48

50

Not sure

16

26

18

16

9

8

11

12

13

9

13

9

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding.

 

TABLE 3

CONFIDENCE IN POLICIES IN AFGHANISTAN

How confident are you that U.S. policies in Afghanistan will be successful?

Base: All Adults

July 2005

May 2007

August 2008

April 2009

Sept 2009

Nov 2009

Jan 2010

June 2010

Oct 2010

Political Party

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Confident

25

22

17

27

14

12

15

12

12

9

18

10

Not confident

45

41

54

40

55

61

53

55

60

71

48

69

Not sure

30

37

29

33

31

28

32

34

28

20

34

22

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding.

 

TABLE 4

ACTIONS US SHOULD TAKE CONCERNING TROOPS

Which of the following possible scenarios would you like to see the US government undertake with regard to Afghanistan?

Base: All Adults

Nov 2009

Oct 2010

%

%

Withdraw all troops now

20

26

Set a timetable for withdrawal

33

34

Send more troops to Afghanistan for a few months to stabilize the situation

36

22

Not sure

11

19

 

Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between October 11 to 18, 2010 among 3,084 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words margin of error as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

J38848

Q855, 857, 860, 865

The Harris Poll® #133, November 2, 2010

By Humphrey Taylor, Chairman, The Harris Poll