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Home arrow Market Research Findings arrow Government and Politics arrow Majorities Not Confident About US Policies In Afghanistan
Majorities Not Confident About US Policies In Afghanistan PDF Print E-mail
Written by Harris Interactive   
04 Mar 2010
While Obama’s Rating Still Negative, Some Signs of Improvement

According to The Harris Poll, a majority of adults continues to give President Obama negative ratings on his handling of Afghanistan.

In addition, most are not confident that US policies will be successful.

However, the President's standing has improved since November and the majority who support his decision to send an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan has also increased by 7 points.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,576 adults surveyed online between January 18 and 25, 2010 by Harris Interactive.

Other findings in the latest Harris Poll include:
* By 53% to 38%, President Obama is rated negatively on his handling the situation in Afghanistan over the past several months. Nonetheless, these ratings have improved since November when he received 60% to 31% negative marks.

* However, almost six in ten (57%) US adults support (either strongly or somewhat) the "surge", sending an additional 30,000 troops to the country. A third (32%) opposes such action. In December a slightly smaller 53% to 33% also supported the sending of additional troops.

* Only one in ten (11%) adults now think the situation in Afghanistan is getting better while those who believe the situation is getting worse has shrunk to 32% while 46% think there hasn't been any change. This represents an improvement in the US public's perceptions since November 2009 when 47% thought thing were getting worse, only 6% thought thinks were getting better and 39% said there has been no real change.

* Furthermore, only 15% are now confident that U.S. policies in Afghanistan will be successful – a small improvement since 12% was recorded in November's 12%. Just over half (53%) are not confident – again a significant improvement since November when 61% said they were not confident.

While the US public is supportive of sending more US troops to Afghanistan, there is less consensus concerning the length of the time troops should remain.

President Obama has announced that troops will start coming home in the summer of 2011.

One in five (20%) feel that the summer of 2011 is a good timetable.

Over one in four (27%) feel that a timetable should not be sent. Over a third (36%) believes that the troops should come home before 2011; this includes 18% who say troops should come home now.

* By political party affiliation, Democrats are more likely to side with Obama's timetable (34%).

However, half of Republicans (50%) feel that we shouldn't set a timetable. Independents split in a similar fashion as the entire population – 19% say the summer of 2011 is a good timetable, 29% say there shouldn't be a timetable and the remaining 35% feel the troops should come home either now of before 2011.

Most people do not think it will be possible to improve things in Afghanistan. Pluralities of the US public do not think it will be possible to reduce corruption (44%), leave behind a stable government (40%) and prevent Al Qaeda from using Afghanistan as a base to train terrorists (37%).

* However, by a range of 25% to 33% significant numbers do think these things are possible and many (29% to 35%) are not sure at all.

Differences by party
Not surprisingly, there are large differences between how Democrats and Republicans rate the president's handling of Afghanistan.

Six in ten (61%) Democrats rate him positively while almost eight in ten (76%) Republican rates him negatively.

However, a majority of Independents (58%) join the majority of Republicans in giving him negative rating.

Four in ten of all Democrats (43%) join most Republicans (59%) and Independents (62%) in saying they are not confident that U.S. policies in Afghanistan will be successful.

However, the one area that people from all parties can agree on is the decision to send additional 30,000 troops. Two-thirds (67%) of Republicans and 57% of Democrats and Independents support this.

So what?
These new findings show that the US public still has serious reservations about the situation in Afghanistan and the President's handling of this war.

However, public opinion is not as bleak towards the President as it was a few months ago, though there is a long way to go before the public is fully supportive.


This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between January 18 and 25, 2010 among 2,576 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population.

Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments.

Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words "margin of error" as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population.

Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

Q675, 676, 678, 680, 682, 684

The Harris Poll®#22, February 11, 2010
By David Krane, Vice President, Public Affairs and Policy Research Group, Harris Interactive

About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is one of the world's leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight.

Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including healthcare, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods.

Serving clients in over 215 countries and territories through our North American, European, and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us – and our clients – stay ahead of what's next.

For more information, please visit

To see the full poll click Here

USA - 11th February  2010

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