March 5, 2009 - American Voters Approve 2-1 Of Afghan Troop Buildup, Quinnipiac University National Poll Finds; Obama's Core Voters Are Most Against More Troops

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American voters approve 62 - 31 percent of President Barack Obama's decision to send 17,000 more combat troops to Afghanistan, but voters say by a much narrower 47 - 43 percent margin that the President should approve a request by military commanders for still another 13,000 soldiers in the war zone, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released today.

By a 48 - 35 percent margin, voters think U.S. forces should attack enemy troops that cross the border from Afghanistan into Pakistan or operate out of Pakistan, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University poll finds. But if the Pakistani government opposes the cross-border strikes, then U.S. voters oppose such attacks 49 - 37 percent.

Voters 18 to 29 percent support the 17,000-troop buildup 54 - 45 percent, but oppose the 13,000-troop request 54 - 39 percent. Democrats, women, blacks, Hispanics, voters over 65 and voters making less than $50,000 per year all shift from supporting the first troop buildup to opposing the request for additional troops.

Overall, American voters approve 56 - 21 percent of the way Obama is handling foreign policy, with support from Democrats at 78 - 6 percent and from independent voters at 51 - 21 percent, while Republicans disapprove 43 - 31 percent.

"During the presidential campaign, the news media made clear to the American people that President Barack Obama planned to get U.S. troops out of Iraq, but his vow to beef up the forces in Afghanistan got much less attention," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "At this point, Americans seem willing to support President Obama in his effort to win the war in Afghanistan."

"But, clearly, they are wary about too much American involvement there and if Obama's support erodes it seems more likely to come from those who are generally in his corner," Brown added. "That might indicate that if the war in Afghanistan does not progress well, the President could face opposition from within his own core constituency."

This core constituency of young voters, blacks, women and low-income voters gives Obama his highest grades for foreign policy. But these same groups are more opposed to war- related policies such as troop buildups in Afghanistan and attacks into Pakistan.

"It's when you get to the question of military action that Obama's normal coalition withers somewhat and those who were less likely to vote for him to begin with are now the ones who provide more support," said Brown.

Americans are much more likely to approve of the war in Afghanistan than the one in Iraq. By a 60 - 36 percent margin they think the invasion of Iraq was the wrong thing to do, but by a 58 - 36 percent ratio they say the war in Afghanistan was the right thing.

Republicans (78 percent) and independent voters (61 percent) are much more likely than Democrats (42 percent) to think the war in Afghanistan was a good idea to begin with.

"In recent decades, public support for overseas military engagements has waned," Brown said. "Even though U.S. troops have been in Afghanistan longer than they have been in Iraq, the public eye has been on Baghdad. With the U.S. military focus now shifting to Afghanistan, the question is whether military action there wears any better over time than it did in Iraq."

From February 25 - March 2, Quinnipiac University surveyed 2,573 American voters with a margin of error of +/- 1.9 percentage points.

The Quinnipiac University Poll, directed by Douglas Schwartz, Ph.D., conducts public opinion surveys in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Florida, Ohio and the nation as a public service and for research.

6. Do you approve or disapprove of the way Barack Obama is handling - foreign policy?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk    His
 
Approve              56%    31%    78%    51%    55%    57%    52%    77%    69%
Disapprove           21     43      6     21     23     19     23      9     13
DK/NA                23     26     16     27     21     24     24     14     18
 
                     ANNUAL HOUSEHOLD INCOME...
                            50-    100-          AGE IN YRS..............
                     <50k   100k   250k   >250k  18-29  30-44  45-64  65+
 
Approve              56%    58%    55%    55%    64%    60%    55%    51%
Disapprove           19     20     27     21     15     21     22     21
DK/NA                25     21     19     24     22     19     22     28
 
                     PRES VOTE..........
                     Bush/  Kerry/ Bush/  NoColl Coll          Wht    WtBrnAgn
                     McCain Obama  Obama  Degree Degree Jew    Cath   Evnglcl
 
Approve              27%    83%    68%    53%    62%    62%    52%    42%
Disapprove           46      3     10     22     19     21     25     32
DK/NA                28     14     22     25     19     17     23     26
 
 
28. Do you think going to war with Iraq was the right thing for the United States to do or the wrong thing?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk    His
 
Right thing          36%    71%     9%    36%    39%    32%    40%    11%    18%
Wrong thing          60     24     87     60     58     61     55     84     78
DK/NA                 5      5      4      4      3      7      5      5      4
 
                     ANNUAL HOUSEHOLD INCOME...
                            50-    100-          AGE IN YRS..............
                     <50k   100k   250k   >250k  18-29  30-44  45-64  65+
 
Right thing          31%    42%    40%    28%    31%    41%    37%    30%
Wrong thing          64     54     57     69     65     55     58     64
DK/NA                 5      4      3      3      4      3      5      6
 
                     PRES VOTE..........
                     Bush/  Kerry/ Bush/  NoColl Coll          Wht    WtBrnAgn
                     McCain Obama  Obama  Degree Degree Jew    Cath   Evnglcl
 
Right thing          72%     4%    31%    36%    35%    27%    36%    57%
Wrong thing          23     94     65     58     62     72     58     38
DK/NA                 5      1      4      5      4      1      5      5
 
TREND: Do you think going to war with Iraq was the right thing for the United States to do or the wrong thing?
                                                             RIGHT THING...
                                                             High    Low
                     Mar 05  Nov 12  May 14  Oct 31  Aug 16  Sep 17  May 14
                     2009    2008    2008    2007    2007    2003    2008
 
Right                36      36      33      38      35      58      33
Wrong                60      58      62      55      59      37      62
DK/NA                 5       6       5       6       6       5       5
 
29. Do you think going to war in Afghanistan was the right thing for the United States to do or the wrong thing?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk    His
 
Right thing          58%    78%    42%    61%    68%    49%    62%    34%    40%
Wrong thing          36     17     50     35     29     42     32     55     55
DK/NA                 6      5      8      4      3     10      6     11      5
 
                     ANNUAL HOUSEHOLD INCOME...
                            50-    100-          AGE IN YRS..............
                     <50k   100k   250k   >250k  18-29  30-44  45-64  65+
 
Right thing          48%    67%    69%    75%    47%    65%    61%    49%
Wrong thing          45     29     26     21     51     30     32     41
DK/NA                 7      4      6      4      2      4      6     10
 
                     PRES VOTE..........
                     Bush/  Kerry/ Bush/  NoColl Coll          Wht    WtBrnAgn
                     McCain Obama  Obama  Degree Degree Jew    Cath   Evnglcl
 
Right thing          79%    49%    56%    53%    68%    72%    58%    67%
Wrong thing          15     45     39     40     26     25     37     27
DK/NA                 5      6      5      7      6      3      5      6
 
 
30. Do you approve or disapprove of President Obama's decision to send an additional 17,000 troops to Afghanistan?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk    His
 
Approve              62%    74%    54%    65%    72%    54%    65%    46%    49%
Disapprove           31     21     37     30     24     36     29     41     41
DK/NA                 7      5      9      6      3     10      6     13     10
 
                     ANNUAL HOUSEHOLD INCOME...
                            50-    100-          AGE IN YRS..............
                     <50k   100k   250k   >250k  18-29  30-44  45-64  65+
 
Approve              54%    71%    75%    75%    54%    66%    65%    58%
Disapprove           39     25     21     21     45     28     28     33
DK/NA                 8      5      4      4      1      6      7     10
 
                     PRES VOTE..........
                     Bush/  Kerry/ Bush/  NoColl Coll          Wht    WtBrnAgn
                     McCain Obama  Obama  Degree Degree Jew    Cath   Evnglcl
 
Approve              75%    62%    61%    58%    74%    68%    63%    66%
Disapprove           20     29     31     35     21     24     32     29
DK/NA                 5      8      7      8      5      8      5      5
 
 
31. U.S. commanders in Afghanistan have requested another 13,000 troops for Afghanistan, on top of the 17,000 President Obama just authorized. Do you think President Obama should send the additional 13,000 troops to Afghanistan, or not?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk    His
 
Yes                  47%    61%    34%    50%    59%    36%    50%    29%    28%
No                   43     30     54     40     33     52     40     55     66
DK/NA                10      9     12     10      8     12     10     16      6
 
                     ANNUAL HOUSEHOLD INCOME...
                            50-    100-          AGE IN YRS..............
                     <50k   100k   250k   >250k  18-29  30-44  45-64  65+
 
Yes                  37%    55%    60%    58%    39%    47%    51%    41%
No                   53     36     32     28     54     43     40     44
DK/NA                 9      9      8     14      7     10      9     14
 
                     PRES VOTE..........
                     Bush/  Kerry/ Bush/  NoColl Coll          Wht    WtBrnAgn
                     McCain Obama  Obama  Degree Degree Jew    Cath   Evnglcl
 
Yes                  64%    39%    46%    43%    54%    51%    45%    53%
No                   28     47     44     48     33     36     46     39
DK/NA                 8     14     10      9     13     13      9      9
 
 
32. If Taliban and Al-Qaeda forces fighting American troops in Afghanistan, flee across the border into neighboring Pakistan or operate out of camps in Pakistan, should U.S. troops attack them there or not?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk    His
 
Yes                  48%    56%    42%    49%    58%    39%    49%    37%    48%
No                   35     30     37     36     33     37     36     37     36
DK/NA                17     13     21     14      9     24     16     26     16
 
                     ANNUAL HOUSEHOLD INCOME...
                            50-    100-          AGE IN YRS..............
                     <50k   100k   250k   >250k  18-29  30-44  45-64  65+
 
Yes                  44%    52%    55%    55%    40%    50%    53%    43%
No                   36     36     31     37     54     35     32     32
DK/NA                20     12     14      8      7     14     15     25
 
                     PRES VOTE..........
                     Bush/  Kerry/ Bush/  NoColl Coll          Wht    WtBrnAgn
                     McCain Obama  Obama  Degree Degree Jew    Cath   Evnglcl
 
Yes                  61%    43%    43%    47%    50%    59%    49%    49%
No                   26     40     38     35     35     25     39     33
DK/NA                14     17     19     18     15     16     12     18
 
 
33. Do you think U.S. forces should attack Taliban and Al-Qaeda forces in Pakistan, even if the Pakistan government objects?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk    His
 
Yes                  37%    46%    28%    40%    47%    28%    38%    23%    36%
No                   49     41     54     49     45     52     48     53     51
DK/NA                14     13     18     12      7     20     13     24     13
 
                     ANNUAL HOUSEHOLD INCOME...
                            50-    100-          AGE IN YRS..............
                     <50k   100k   250k   >250k  18-29  30-44  45-64  65+
 
Yes                  33%    41%    41%    48%    27%    38%    40%    35%
No                   50     50     49     45     69     54     46     41
DK/NA                17      9     11      7      4      8     14     25
 
                     PRES VOTE..........
                     Bush/  Kerry/ Bush/  NoColl Coll          Wht    WtBrnAgn
                     McCain Obama  Obama  Degree Degree Jew    Cath   Evnglcl
 
Yes                  48%    31%    36%    37%    36%    48%    41%    38%
No                   39     54     47     48     52     38     47     46
DK/NA                13     15     17     15     12     14     12     16