Poll: Broad majority support start of Afghan troop withdrawal

A broad majority of Americans support President Obama's plan to start withdrawing troops from Afghanistan this year, according to a new Gallup poll released Wednesday.

According to the poll, 72 percent of Americans generally favor Obama's plan to withdraw 10,000 troops from Afghanistan this year and 20,000 more by the end of the summer of 2012 while 23 percent are against it. The poll also found that five percent have no opinion. Eighty-seven percent of Democrats generally favor the plan while 11 percent oppose it. Amongst Republicans, 50 percent generally favor the strategy while 43 percent oppose it.

The poll comes roughly a week after Obama announced that he would be withdrawing 10,000 troops by the end of the year and another roughly 23,000 troops by the end of September 2012. Obama said 68,000 troops would remain in Afghanistan at the end of 2012 and that withdrawal would continue at an unspecified rate from then until 2014.

Gallup found that support is not quite as high for withdrawing about 30,000 troops by next summer. Just 43 percent of Americans think it's “just right”, while 19 percent say it's “too high” and 29 percent say it's “too low.” Split by ideology, 57 percent of Democrats say withdrawing 30,000 troops by next summer is the right amount to bring back. Seven percent of Democrats say that's too high and 30 percent say that's too low. For Republicans, the poll found that 33 percent say withdrawing the 30,000 troops is too high, 35 percent say it's just right, and 20 percent say it's too low.

Independents fall somewhere in the middle on the 30,000 troops. According to Gallup, 18 percent say removing 30,000 troops from Afghanistan by next summer is too high, 40 percent of independents say it's just right, and 33 percent say it's too low.

While Americans are supportive of Obama's plan to withdraw 10,000 troops this year and 20,000 more by roughly the end of a year from now, they're more evenly divided on Obama's overall timetable for Afghanistan. The poll found that 30 percent of Americans agree with the timetable, 33 percent think troops should be withdrawn sooner, and that 31 percent think a timetable should not be set.

Forty-five percent of Democrats think the timetable is just right, 40 percent think troops should be withdrawn sooner, and 13 percent don't want a withdrawal timetable. With Republicans, Gallup found that 19 percent are okay with Obama's timetable, 20 percent want withdrawal to happen sooner, and 54 percent are against a withdrawal timeline. Independents, again, fall somewhere in the middle. Twenty-seven percent agree with the timetable, 38 percent want it to be sooner, and 29 percent don't think there should be a withdrawal timetable.