With Gordon Brown pledging today to end Britain's military role in Iraq by May 31, the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll finds 70 percent of Americans want President-elect Barack Obama to make good on his campaign promise to withdraw most U.S. troops from Iraq within the next 16 months. And most who support the drawdown want him to act on it right away, not wait until later in his presidency.
This high level of support for Obama's plan (fully 20 points higher than support for the same idea in a July Post-ABC poll) comes amid waning official resistance to troop drawdowns. The Iraqi government and Bush administration have agreed to a plan that would withdraw U.S. combat forces by the end of 2011, though the deadline for removal from Iraqi cities appears to be in question.
A narrow majority of 52 percent of Republicans, who remain solidly behind the war, prefer that Obama not withdraw troops - the feeling is strongest among McCain's supporters, 57 percent of whom oppose the drawdown - but among conservatives, 55 percent think he should follow through on the promise.
Views among independents track more closely to those of Democrats: Seven in 10 think Obama should withdraw troops within the next 16 months, including four in 10 who favor quick action.
Most of those who think Obama should withdraw troops believe he will do so, including 75 percent of those who hope the drawdown occurs right away and 66 percent of those who believe it should happen later in his term. Even among those who say Obama should not withdraw troops, 47 percent believe he will.
Republicans are divided about whether Obama will be able to end the U.S. involvement in Iraq, 47 percent think he will, 49 percent that he will not, but among conservatives, 56 percent think he will. A slim majority of McCain voters (52 percent) think he will not.
Q. Apart from dealing with the economy, do you think Obama should or should not withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq within the next 16 months? (IF SHOULD) Should he start that right after taking office, or wait until later in his presidency?
-------- Should -------- Should NET Right after Wait not All 70 43 27 26 Democrat 87 56 31 12 Independent 70 42 28 27 Republican 43 20 22 52 Obama voter 89 58 31 9 McCain voter 37 16 20 57 Iraq war: Worth fighting 38 20 18 57 Not worth it 87 56 31 10 Iraq war: Must win 50 25 25 47 Not essential 85 54 32 12
Q. As president, do you think Obama will or will not be able to end the U.S. involvement in Iraq?
Will Will not All 64 32 Democrat 79 18 Independent 63 33 Republican 47 49 Obama voter 80 16 McCain voter 44 52 Iraq war: Worth fighting 48 49 Not worth it 73 23 Iraq war: Must win 53 44 Not essential 75 22
Complete data and more on the methodology of the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll can be found here.