Poll: Two-thirds support Afghanistan withdrawal
About two-thirds of U.S. adults support bringing U.S. troops home from Afghanistan by September, according to a new poll commissioned by the libertarian Charles Koch Institute and obtained exclusively by The Hill.
In the survey, 38 percent said they strongly support bringing the troops home by the Biden administration’s announced deadline, while 28 percent said they somewhat support doing so.
When the question was posed to just military members and veterans, there was a similar response, with 38 percent saying they strongly support the withdrawal and 30 percent saying they somewhat support it.
The poll was conducted by YouGov for the Charles Koch Institute, the research institute founded by the conservative mega-donor that advocates a noninterventionist foreign policy, including support for withdrawal from Afghanistan.
President Biden last month ordered a full U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, the 20th anniversary of the attacks that sparked America’s longest war.
“As the United States begins to bring the last of its troops home from Afghanistan, President Biden should remain confident he has the strong support of the American people in his efforts to end our longest war,” said Will Ruger, the institute’s vice president of research and policy, whom former President Trump unsuccessfully nominated to be U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan last year.
Biden said it is “time to end the forever war” in announcing the move.
“We’ll be much more formidable to our adversaries and competitors over the long term if we fight the battles for the next 20 years, not the last 20,” he said in remarks at the White House.
The withdrawal officially kicked off last week, with U.S. Central Command saying Monday it had finished 2 to 6 percent of the process.
Biden’s decision to fully withdraw elicited a range of reactions in Congress, with most Republicans and some Democrats concerned about the Afghan government falling to the Taliban without U.S. military support, allowing al Qaeda to regain strength, and rolling back the rights of Afghan women and minorities. But other Democrats and noninterventionist Republicans said it was far past time to leave.
The latest Charles Koch Institute poll shows somewhat less support than when the question of withdrawing from Afghanistan was posed more generally last year.
In the institute’s August survey, 46 percent said they strongly supported the general concept of bringing troops home from Afghanistan, while 30 percent said they somewhat supported it.
“What we have seen, in poll after poll, is remarkable support for withdrawal that seems to transcend the partisan divides we see in so many other issues, even as pushback and rhetoric from the anti-withdraw camp have ramped up,” Ruger said when asked about the differences in the polls. “More remarkable I think is the consistent support for withdrawal we have seen from the military and veteran populations we have surveyed. The bottom line is the American public supports withdrawal from America’s longest-ever war.”
In addition to the latest poll now having a specific withdrawal plan to ask about, it also allowed respondents to say they neither support nor oppose the withdrawal. For all adults, 13 percent said they were neutral, while 11 percent of military members or veterans agreed.
Even as the poll indicated support for the withdrawal, it also showed some skepticism that it will be completed by Biden’s deadline.
Thirty-eight percent of adults said they think it is unlikely the United States will successfully remove all troops from Afghanistan by September, compared with 36 percent who said they think it is likely.
For military members and veterans, 37 percent said they think it is unlikely, compared with 44 percent who said they think it is likely.
The poll was conducted from April 17 to April 30 using YouGov’s web-based panel. YouGov interviewed 1,126 military members and veterans and 897 members of the general population and then pared down each sample to 800 respondents. The poll was weighted by gender, age, race and education and has a margin of error of 4.2 percentage points.