Poll: Obama's Ratings on Afghanistan Drop

U.S. President Barack Obama gestures during his news conference at the NATO summit in Strasbourg, France, Saturday, April 4, 2009. Obama heralded "concrete commitments" from NATO allies to help advance America's strategy in Afghanistan on Saturday, calling their agreement to send up to 5,000 more military trainers and police "a strong down payment" toward securing the country. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais) AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

The public remains negative about U.S. progress in Afghanistan. As they have for months, most Americans say the war there is going badly, according to a CBS News poll released Tuesday.

Four in 10 now say they want U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan decreased, a percentage which has been rising since the beginning of 2009. In addition, President Obama's approval rating on handling Afghanistan has dropped eight points since April.

Critics of the Obama administration - most notably former Vice President Dick Cheney - have attacked Attorney General Eric Holder's appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate the interrogation techniques of CIA officials during the Bush administration. Half of the American public, however, say the investigation is a good idea.

President Obama and the Afghan War

Less than half (48 percent) of those questioned now say they approve of President Obama's handling of the situation in Afghanistan, down from 56 percent in April. While a majority of Democrats still approve, just 31 percent of Republicans agree.

Fifty-two percent of Americans say the war in Afghanistan is going at least somewhat badly for the United States, and just 37 percent say it is going well.

This has changed little over the past few months, though Americans are more positive than they were last December, when 62 percent of those asked said the war was going badly.

Support for increasing U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan is declining, and more Americans would like to see the number of U.S. troops in the country decreased. Forty-one percent say they want American troops to start coming home, up from 33 percent in April and just 24 percent in February. Support for increasing the number of troops dropped from 39 percent in April to just 25 percent now.

The poll results are at odds with what NATO and U.S. commanders on the ground say they need. Military and civilian sources say top U.S. commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal is for the Afghan war later this year.

Appointing a Special Prosecutor

According to the poll results, half of the public believes the Justice Department's appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate interrogation tactics used by the CIA is a good idea. Just 38 percent say it is a bad idea.

Views of this issue divide along party and ideological lines. Democrats and liberals support the appointment, while Republicans and conservatives agree with Former Vice President Cheney and say it was a bad idea.

Political Hotsheet: Cheney vs. The White House

Moderates and independents are more divided, though both groups tend to agree more with the investigation.

PDF: Read the Complete Poll

See Also -- Poll: Two-Thirds Confused by Health Reform


This poll was conducted among a random sample of 1,097 adults nationwide, interviewed by telephone August 27-31, 2009. Phone numbers were dialed from random digit dial samples of both standard land-line and cell phones. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus three percentage points. The error for subgroups is higher.

This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls
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