Reporting by Jon Cohen and Jennifer Agiesta
Here's a look at public opinion of President Obama's handling of the war in Afghanistan from a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
No consensus on Afghanistan
A number that might have consequences: Only 44 percent of Americans see the war in Afghanistan as worth its costs, a new low in Post-ABC polling.
Whether the downward trend is reversed after the Obama administration's promised strategic revamp could be critical: Sagging public views of the war in Iraq plagued then-President George W. Bush for his entire second term, dragging his approval rating into record low territory.
A hurdle for Obama here is that there are now deep divisions about the size and mission for an additional U.S. troop commitment. Beyond the partisan split, there are wide gaps by age and gender, with younger adults and women more apt to favor a smaller deployment with a limited mission.
Political sand trap for Obama
Most express confidence Obama will choose a path in Afghanistan that will succeed, but few are deeply certain. His approval rating on handling the situation has slipped in recent months, with big falloffs among independents and Republicans.
Once an area of rare cross-party accord, nearly three-quarters of Republicans now disapprove of how Obama is dealing with Afghanistan, with a majority disapproving "strongly."
Obama holds only a sliver of an edge over Republicans in Congress on handling the situation in Afghanistan, in contrast to double-digit advantages on the economy and health care. His advantage stands mostly on the strength of the Democratic Party's lead on party identification: independents tilt toward the GOP on this issue.
Risk and return
Nearly half say Obama's policies are not making much difference in keeping the U.S. safe from terrorism, with the other half about evenly split between seeing those policies as making things safer (27 percent -- down from 32 percent in June) or more dangerous (22 percent, unchanged).
Overall, 53 percent approve of how Obama is dealing with the threat of terrorism, making it one of his better marks in the new poll. A broad majority feels changing troop levels in Afghanistan will not have an effect on the odds of terrorist attack here in the United States.
Little faith in Karzai
Few Americans express confidence in Afghan President Hamid Karzai to be a dependable partner or capable to train an Afghan army to take over security there. Low confidence crosses party lines.
Those who express confidence in his ability to raise an army are more apt to favor a smaller increase in U.S. troops with a limited mission than those who lack confidence in the newly reelected president (56 to 45 percent).