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Behind the Numbers
Posted at 06:00 AM ET, 07/16/2010

Public supportive of Iraq, Afghanistan drawdowns

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds most Americans supportive of the troop drawdowns scheduled for later this summer in Iraq and next year in Afghanistan, as most take a negative view on both contests.

Seven in 10 back the removal of combat troops from Iraq by the end of August, with majorities across party lines supportive of this move. Six in 10 say they back the decision to leave up to 50,000 non-combat troops there in a supporting role.

As the troop reduction edges closer, four in 10 say the war in Iraq was worth its costs, with Democrats more favorable towards it now than they have been since mid-2004. Just in the last year, the share saying the war has been worth fighting has more than doubled to 29 percent. Views among Republicans (64 percent worth fighting) and independents (40 percent) over that time have held about even.

Half now say the conflict in Iraq has contributed to the long-term security of the U.S., 46 percent say it has not. Though little changed, this marks the first time public views on the question have tilted positive since September 2006. Most Democrats say the war has not helped keep the U.S. secure (59 percent) while most Republicans say it has (70 percent). Independents split evenly on the question (48 percent has, 48 percent has not).

Veterans, typically a more Republican group than the population as a whole, divide evenly on whether the war was worth its costs (49 percent yes, 50 percent no), but are as likely as all adults to say the war has contributed to the nation's security (50 percent say it has).

On Afghanistan, public opinion remains more negative than positive, with 53 percent of all adults saying the war has not been worth its costs, matching last month's highest-ever mark. Most say U.S. forces there should start withdrawing by next summer or sooner (45 percent say Obama's plan to withdraw next summer is about right, 32 percent say pull back sooner or immediately).

At the same time, a narrow majority (53 percent) say the war in Afghanistan has contributed to long-term security in the U.S., with 44 percent saying it has not accomplished that objective. The partisan gap on this question is narrower than on the war in Iraq: 65 percent of Republicans say it has contributed to the nation's long-term security, as have 50 percent of independents and 46 percent of Democrats.

By Jennifer Agiesta  |  06:00 AM ET, 07/16/2010

Categories:  Afghanistan, Afghanistan, Afghanistan

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