Despite overwhelming negative coverage of President Joe Biden’s decision to withdraw all US troops from Afghanistan, a plurality of 49% of US adults support his decision to leave the country. According to the new poll of 956 US adults polled on Monday, August 16, 37% oppose the President’s decision.
The new John Zogby Strategies Poll has an overall margin-of-sampling error of +/- 3.2 percentage points. Sampling error margins are higher for sub-groups. See here for a complete description of the polling methodology.
While almost 3 in 4 Democrats support Mr. Biden on this issue (73%-14%), only 26% of Republicans do (26%-62% oppose). Independents back the President with 47% in support of the Afghanistan withdrawal and 35% in opposition. While white adults are evenly split with 43% supporting the President and 44% opposing, Hispanics (65% – 16%) and blacks (66% – 24%) are clearly in Mr. Biden’s corner. Solid majority support also comes from 18-29 year olds (59% -18%) and 30-49 year olds (49%-37%). 50-64 year olds are split (44% – 45%). Adults over 65, however, years of age tilt toward favoring the President’s position (49% – 43%).
When presented with arguments for and against withdrawal, adults split almost evenly between leaving Afghanistan vs. the US honoring its commitment to the Afghan people.
Statement A says that it is clear that the Afghan government forces were not up to the task of defeating the Taliban, that about one third were already abandoning the cause, and that the US simply could not stop the inevitable takeover by the Taliban.
Statement B says that the US made a commitment to the people of Afghanistan, that US military and civilian personnel suffered casualties, and that progress was being made bolstering the Afghan government. The US should honor its commitment and stay.
Which is closer to your view?
Two in five (40%) favored Statement A and 37% Statement B. On this question, one in four (23%) were not sure. A smaller percentage of Democrats support departure (53% to 20%, with 27% undecided) – and a smaller majority of Republicans favored staying (54% to 29% backing departure). In this instance, 41% of independents preferred leaving to 31% wanting to stay and 28% undecided.
In other questions:
1. President Biden maintained a 52% majority approval rating for handling his job as President. He has the backing of almost 9 in 10 Democrats (88% to only 8% opposition). He does have 20% approval among Republicans (78% oppose), while independents are tied (44% approve, 43% disapprove). He retains majority support among those with college degrees (53% – 43%) and those without degrees (53%-43%); men (53% – 45%) and women (51% – 40%), Hispanics (70%-21%) and blacks (80%-14%), 16-29 year olds (64% – 22%), 30-49 year olds (58% – 35%), and parents with children 17 and under at home (61% – 33%). On the other hand, white are about tied (42% – 43%) as are adults over 65 (50% – 49%).
2. Twenty percent report that financially they are better off than they were four years ago, while 33% say they are worse off and 41% say about the same as they were. Women are more likely to say they are worse off than men (34% to 29%).
3. Only 37% of adults feel that the US is headed in the right direction, while 58% say things in the country are on the wrong track.
In the first full day following the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban and within, President Joe Biden seems to have survived a major hit in public opinion. His winning coalition of 2020 appears to be intact and his decision to take ownership of a most difficult decision appears to have acted like a tourniquet to stop any bleeding. In the next few days the media will continue to focus on the thus far poorly executed withdrawal of Afghans to see how many can be saved and safely evacuated. If this story continues with the same intensity it has received in the past 72 hours, it could damage Mr. Biden’s Presidency. So far, that is not the case.