Three in Five Americans Give President Obama Negative Ratings on Afghanistan

NEWYORK, N.Y. – July 13, 2010 – With the recent change in military leadership for Afghanistan there is a hope by the White House and others that this will help to change the direction of the war as well as attitudes toward it. President Obama probably also hopes this helps change opinions on his handling of the situation in Afghanistan, as just three in ten (29%) have a positive opinion of how he is handling it, while six in ten (59%) have a negative opinion. In January, almost four in ten Americans (38%) had a positive opinion of President Obama’s handling of the war while 53% had a negative opinion.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,227 adults surveyed online between June 14 and 21, 2010 by Harris Interactive.

The general sense toward the situation in Afghanistan is also negative. Just one in ten Americans (10%) think the situation in Afghanistan is getting better, almost the same as in January (11%). Three in ten (29%) believe the situation is getting worse while half of Americans (49%) say there is no real change. And President Obama cannot count on people within his own party to support him on this issue. Half of both Republicans (51%) and Democrats (50%) say there is no real change in Afghanistan.

There is also a lack of confidence in long term success. Over half of Americans (55%) are not confident that U.S. policies in Afghanistan will be successful. One-third (34%) are not sure if these policies will be successful and only 12% are confident in the success in Afghanistan. Democrats are slightly more confident than both Republicans and Independents (17% vs. 10% and 8%).

 

Bringing troops home from Afghanistan

The timeframe for when U.S. troops should come home has been debated since American forces were first sent to Afghanistan. After the surge of troops was implemented, President Obama announced that some of those troops would begin coming home in the summer of 2011. American opinion is divided on this timetable. One-quarter of U.S. adults (25%) say all U.S. troops should come home now while 22% believe there should be no timetable for troops to come home. One in five Americans (19%) believe this is a good timetable for U.S. troops to come home, while 17% say some troops should come home before 2011 and 14% are not sure.

There is a slight shift of opinion in this since the beginning of the year. In January, over one-quarter of Americans (27%) believed there should be no timetable for U.S. troops to come home, while less than one-in five (18%) believed all U.S. troops should come home now.

There is also a large difference of opinion by political party. More than two in five Republicans (43%) believe there should be no timetable for troops to come home while 17% believe all troops should come home now and 9% believe summer of 2011 is a good timetable. One-third of Democrats (33%) believe summer of 2011 is a good timetable for troops to come home while one-quarter (26%) say all U.S. troops should come home now and 7% say there should not be a timetable.

 

Osama bin Laden

One view that hasn’t changed so far this year is the belief that Osama bin Laden is still alive. Almost four in five Americans (78%) believe he is still alive with almost one-quarter (23%) saying he is definitely alive and 55% saying his is probably alive. The same number of Americans believed this in January of this year. Just one in ten U.S. adults (9%) say he is not alive while 13% are not at all sure.

 

So What?

The situation in Afghanistan is one other issue the Obama White House has on its plate for the unforeseeable future. When the focus shifted to Iraq, a lot of attention slipped away from Afghanistan and it became the forgotten war. With the situation in Afghanistan becoming more unstable, attention is now refocused there and Americans are going to expect something to change. If not, the same negative feelings they once felt towards Iraq will continue to emerge, and deepen, towards Afghanistan.

 

 

TABLE 1

PRESIDENT OBAMA AND AFGHANISTAN

Now turning to Afghanistan, overall, 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

Political Party

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Positive (NET)

51

36

31

38

29

12

47

27

Excellent

10

5

4

7

3

1

7

2

Pretty Good

41

32

26

30

26

11

40

25

Negative (NET)

36

54

60

53

59

79

41

62

Only fair

26

35

33

31

33

36

32

32

Poor

10

19

27

22

26

43

9

31

Not sure

13

10

9

9

12

8

12

11

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

Political Party

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Getting better

17

12

11

12

8

6

11

10

9

11

11

Getting worse

30

26

37

28

42

47

32

29

34

24

34

No real change

37

36

35

45

41

39

46

49

51

50

45

Not sure

16

26

18

16

9

8

11

12

7

14

10

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

Political Party

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Confident

25

22

17

27

14

12

15

12

10

17

8

Not confident

45

41

54

40

55

61

53

55

65

44

61

Not sure

30

37

29

33

31

28

32

34

26

39

31

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

 

 

 

TABLE 4

TROOP SURGE IN AFGHANISTAN

President Obama recently announced that some of the troops that were part of the surge in Afghanistan will start coming home in the summer of 2011. Do you think…?

Base: All Adults

Jan

2010

June

2010

Political Party

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

%

%

%

%

%

All U.S. troops should come home now.

18

25

17

26

31

There should be no timetable for U.S. troops to come home.

27

22

43

7

24

This is a good timetable for U.S. troops to come home.

20

19

9

33

15

Some U.S. troops should come home before 2011.

18

17

15

21

14

Other

4

3

4

1

3

Not sure

12

14

12

12

13

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

 

 

 

TABLE 5

OSAMA BIN LADEN

Do you believe that Osama Bin Laden is still alive?

Base: All Adults

Jan

2010

June

2010

Political Party

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

%

%

%

%

%

Alive (NET)

78

78

86

77

75

He’s definitely alive

23

23

22

24

22

He’s probably alive

55

55

64

53

54

Not alive (NET)

10

9

7

9

11

He’s probably not alive

8

8

6

8

10

He’s definitely not alive

2

1

1

1

1

Not at all sure

12

13

7

14

14

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

 

Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between June 14 and 21, 2010 among 2,227 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.

J38301

Q755, 760, 765, 770, 775

The Harris Poll ® #88, July 13, 2010

By Regina Corso, Director The Harris Poll, Harris Interactive

 

 

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