Thursday, June 30, 2011

Amercans Support Afghan Drawdown; Fewer Fear Terror Attack

A majority of Americans are not afraid that withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan will open up the United States to terrorist attacks, the Gallup poll reports.

Some 55% of Americans say they are not worried about terrorist attacks as a result of President Obama's plan to begin the drawdown, an increase from the 43% who said they did not fear a terrorist attack back in December 2009, when the President first announced his intent to start withdrawing troops in 2011, the survey indicated.

"Though Americans remain supportive of the war effort in Afghanistan, they appear ready to wind down the war, given the broad support for Obama's plan for withdrawal and a belief by most that the U.S. has accomplished its mission there," Gallup analyst Jeffrey Jones wrote.

"Though many who argue for continuing the war effort cite the possibility of increased vulnerability of the U.S. to terrorist attack as justification, a majority of Americans do not share that concern," Jones concluded.

Obama's address to the nation last week failed to give him a bump in job approval, but Americans overwhelming support his plan to begin withdrawing U.S. forces in Afghanistan this year, Gallup reports.

Asked about the plan that calls for about 30,000 troops to be withdrawn from Afghanistan by the end of next summer, with the remainder out by 2014, some 72%, of Americans are in favor, while 23% are opposed, the poll showed.

Americans favor the withdrawal  plan across the political spectrum -- even more Republicans favor it than oppose it, the survey showed.

More Americans -- 43% say  pulling out the 30,00 troops (it is actually closer to 33,000, according to the Obama plan) is about right, while 29% call it too low, and 19% too high.

However, the timetable for troop withdrawal is where the support gets fewer cheers -- 30% of Americans say the timetable is about right, 33% say it should happen soon, while 31% say there should be no timetable at all.

The party line breakdown over the timetable is predictable, with more Democrats with Obama, followed, in diminishing order, by Independent voters and Republicans.

Then survey is good news for the White House, but the positive reaction to the withdrawal plan does not translate into a bump in Obama's job approval rating.

The new Gallup poll suggests he succeeded in satisfying public opinion, with 72% of Americans broadly in favor of his plan. Yet, scratching beneath the surface, the poll also suggests he did not go far enough to fully satisfy Democrats' and independents' desire for a swift withdrawal," Gallup analyst Lydia Saad writes.

"This may partly explain Obama's lagging job approval rating over the past 10 days, or at least why his June 22 speech announcing his 'way forward in Afghanistan' did not help to raise it out of the mid-40s," Saad explained.

And, of course, even though Gallup does not cite it as reason, everything Obama does now is seen through the prism of the economy first.

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