PRINCETON, NJ -- President Obama's decision to send an additional 17,000 troops to Afghanistan is supported by 65% of the American public, including not only majority support from Democrats, but even larger support from Republicans -- marking one of the few instances in which a president receives more support for a policy decision from those who identify with the opposing political party than he does from his own.
A new USA Today/Gallup poll, conducted Feb. 20-22, shows that Obama's decision receives 75% support from Republicans, 57% from independents, and 65% from Democrats.
The poll, conducted Feb. 20-22, also shows that 77% of those Americans who approve sending 17,000 troops would go further and also approve if Obama decided later to send an additional 13,000 troops. Taken as a whole, the results indicate that 50% of Americans approve of sending both 17,000 troops to Afghanistan now and an additional 13,000 later, while 15% approve only of the initial 17,000 increment.
The majority of those who oppose sending 17,000 more troops say that the level of U.S. troops should be reduced or withdrawn altogether, while a small percentage of those who oppose sending more say that keeping troop levels as they are now is appropriate. All in all, 17% of Americans both disapprove of sending more troops and say that all U.S. troops should be withdrawn from Afghanistan, while 9% disapprove and want troops reduced, but not withdrawn altogether. Just 6% disapprove of sending more but feel troops should be kept at their current levels.
Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,013 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Feb. 20-22, 2009. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.
Interviews are conducted with respondents on land-line telephones (for respondents with a land-line telephone) and cellular phones (for respondents who are cell-phone only).
In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.