Polling Afghan war approval
Public approval of President Obama's handling of the war in Afghanistan has plummeted, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds, amid rising pessimism about the course of the conflict.I think his dithering on the troop request hurt his poll numbers on his approval of handling the war. Some of his other moves involving the war in general have been deeply unpopular. That will eventually take a toll on his overall popularity.
The nation is divided over what to do next: Nearly half of those surveyed endorse deploying thousands of additional U.S. troops, while four in 10 say it's time to begin withdrawing forces.
The mixed picture comes as the president weighs a request from the top U.S. commander for about 40,000 more troops. Obama said Tuesday he would announce his decision after Thanksgiving.
His extended deliberations may be taking a toll: 55% disapprove of the way he is handling Afghanistan and 35% approve, a reversal of his 56% approval rating four months ago.
"He's being held responsible for a deteriorating situation and relentlessly bad news," says political scientist Richard Eichenberg of Tufts University. "But Americans continue to believe doing something about al-Qaeda in Afghanistan was the right thing to do."
On a series of fronts, Obama is moving against headwinds:
• By 49%-44%, they oppose passing a health care bill in Congress this year, which he calls critical.
• A majority are against holding the trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in New York, and nearly six in 10 say the self-proclaimed 9/11 mastermind should be tried in a military rather than a civilian court. That's at odds with the decision announced this month by Attorney General Eric Holder.