Poll: Plurality want Afghan withdrawal in 2011

Forty-five percent of likely voters want President Obama to withdraw troops from Afghanistan starting in 2011, according to the latest Zogby poll, while 35 percent say he should not.

The survey was released following a week of contradictory remarks by officials on how many troops will leave the war next summer, which marks the beginning of the withdrawal timetable outlined by President Obama.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Sunday that voters expect the number to be more than "a few thousand troops" — Vice President Joe Biden's most recent estimate — while Defense Secretary Robert Gates emphasized that any departure would be "limited."

According to the Zogby survey, voters who identify themselves as "liberals" and "Democrats" are most likely to support troop withdrawal for 2011, at 85 and 70 percent in favor, respectively. On defense spending generally, more than half of Democrats also say that it is higher than necessary.

Meanwhile, respondents who said they were conservatives were the least likely to support swift withdrawal, at 13 percent, followed by Republicans, at 18 percent. Only 12 percent of the latter category said that defense spending is higher than necessary.

Independents hold the bleakest view of the war's progress, with 85 percent saying the U.S. success rate in the war is "fair" or "poor," although they are still 40 points behind liberals in supporting 2011 withdrawal.

The poll surveyed 2,389 voters from July 27-29.

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