Tuesday, September 23, 2008

New poll on Americans perceptions of U.S. war on terror

I have to say - this poll really surprises me. Ipsos/McClatchy recently conducted an online poll of Americans perceptions on the war on terror. Given that Iraq is perceived as relatively quiet and the media doesn't report much about Afghanistan, I would have guessed Americans feel the war on terror is going pretty well. Not the case.

A new Ipsos/McClatchy online poll finds a solid majority of 57 percent thinking that the country can win the war on terrorism but a similar majority of 54 percent saying that the country is NOT winning it.

Some people are more skeptical than others, including women, those aged 18 to 34, those with college degrees and people in the Northeast. The most optimistic: Southerners.

The survey also found that Americans think by 57-43 percent that Afghanistan is now a more important front in combating terrorists than Iraq is.

By 66-34 percent, Americans oppose proposals to send more troops to Afghanistan, either redeployed from Iraq or sent from elsewhere.

Rather, Americans favor gradually withdrawing troops from both countries by 74-26 percent. Among those most in favor of getting out of both countries were women, young people, those who make less than $50,000 a year and Northeasterners.

Finally, given four options, 57 percent said they wanted to gradually withdraw troops from both countries and bring them home, 21 percent want to redeploy some troops now from Iraq to Afghanistan, 12 percent want to keep troop levels the same in Iraq while sending new troops to Afghanistan and 10 percent want to keep troop levels the same in Iraq until the country is secure and then redeploy them to Afghanistan.(Link)

These results don't bode well for Senator McCain. Central to his foreign policy is his insistence we are winning the war on terror, our mission in Iraq should not be cut short, and additional military force should be employed in Afghanistan (a position McCain shares with Barack Obama).

It may also be true that Americans, fretting about our economic mess here at home, are wondering about the wisdom of spending $10B a month on a strategy they feel is not delivering results.