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Polling shows public siding with Biden on Afghanistan (for now)

If there's polling evidence of a public backlash against Biden's policies in Afghanistan, it's hiding well -- at least for the time being.


When President Biden announced in the spring that he would withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan and end the 20-year war, he faced some political pushback, though there was hardly a public backlash. Polls showed most Americans supporting the White House's decision to bring the longest war in the nation's history to a close.

As the Afghan government quickly collapsed, and the Taliban reclaimed power, among the many questions was whether the developments and chaotic images would affect Americans' attitudes.

The preliminary evidence is likely to disappoint the president's fiercest critics.

On Monday, the latest Politico/Morning Consult poll found support for withdrawal had dropped sharply compared to April's results, but a plurality nevertheless sided with Biden's position: 49% backed the U.S. exit from Afghanistan, while 39% did not. The poll was conducted while Americans confronted a weekend of headlines about the Taliban returning to power.

The latest findings from Data for Progress pointed in a similar direction.

New polling from Data for Progress shows that voters still support President Biden's decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, even after learning that Taliban fighters have captured these cities. Voters support the decision to withdraw by a 14-point margin, including Democrats by a 51-point margin, Independents by a 13-point margin, and nearly a third of Republicans.

Though there were predictable partisan divisions, the overall results found 51% of Americans endorsing the decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan, while 37% were opposed to the policy. (The poll was conducted between Aug. 13 to 16.)

As NBC News reported overnight, the same survey results found that a 55% majority of the public also supports the Biden administration speeding up the process of giving immigrant visas to U.S. allies in Afghanistan, as opposed to 30% who believe the administration should take no additional action to bring Afghans here.

Even a plurality of Republican voters sided with the White House on this issue.

In other words, there does not appear to be any kind of backlash against the president's policy toward Afghanistan. A narrow majority appears to believe Biden's policies are the right ones, despite the recent unrest and the Taliban's return to power in Kabul.

To be sure, public attitudes can change quickly, and there's no shortage of unpredictable variables. It's possible, for example, that support for the president's agenda could actually grow as the chaotic images fade from view. If operations run relatively smoothly in the coming days and weeks, the likelihood of a public backlash will grow more remote.

On the other hand, much of the media coverage in recent days has emphasized bipartisan opposition to Biden's policy, which often helps shape opinions. Similarly, if conditions in Afghanistan deteriorate further, it's easy to imagine many Americans souring on the administration's efforts.

For now, however, the White House has reason to be pleased with the latest polling.