Pew poll: Majority of Americans favor immediate Afghan pullout

The number of Americans who want all American forces removed from Afghanistan has hit 56 percent — an “all-time high,” according to the Pew Research Center.

That was the result of a new Pew poll, which is up eight percentage points from the organization’s last Afghanistan survey, conducted shortly after Osama bin Laden was killed in Pakistan. The June 2010 incarnation of the poll found only 40 percent of Americans favored removing troops as soon as possible.


The survey found only 39 percent of Americans favor keeping U.S. forces in Afghanistan until the situation has been stabilized, tumbling from 47 percent just last month in the wake of bin Laden's death.

The new poll was “the first time” a majority of those surveyed said “U.S. troops should be brought home as soon as possible,” according to a Pew summary of the findings.

The findings were made public just before President Obama is set to deliver a nationally televised address from the White House in which he is expected to announce the removal of 10,000 U.S. forces by the end of this year.

Most Americans still feel the decision to invade Afghanistan was correct, and 58 percent believe the U.S. “will definitely or probably succeed in achieving its goals in Afghanistan.” On the that matter, 62 percent felt the same last June.

Thirty-four percent of those polled said they think the U.S. will “definitely or probably fail in achieving its goals,” according to Pew.

The shifting mood toward a complete pullout spans the political spectrum, with the largest pro-withdrawal increase coming from Republicans and Tea Party independents.

“Over the past year, support for withdrawing the troops has doubled among Republicans and GOP-leaning independents who agree with the Tea Party,” according to the Pew summary.

Last June, only 21 percent in those categories favored an immediate pullout; today, 42 percent do.

When the Tea Party independents are stripped away, Pew found 53 percent of GOP members favor keeping U.S. forces there and 43 percent support an immediate withdrawal. A year ago, Republicans were solidly in favor of continuing the operation, with 65 percent supporting the mission.

Several GOP presidential hopefuls, including former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, favor a withdrawal cycle even faster than the one Obama will unveil Wednesday evening.

Among Democrats, support for ending the mission is up to 67 percent from 43 percent last June. And 57 percent of independents now are in favor of a withdrawal, up 15 percent from last year.