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Americans Skeptical About Obama's Plan to 'Finish the Job' in Afghanistan 

 By Ashley Grosse

Angus-Reid, December 3, 2009


Support for the military mission falls below 50% for the first time this year, as some Americans question the decision to launch military action.

A new Angus Reid Public Opinion poll—the first national survey concluded after the official announcement of a U.S. troop surge in Afghanistan—has found that Americans have grown skeptical about the military mission, and are divided on the President’s outlined course of action.

In the online survey of a representative national sample of 1,003 American adults, 47 per cent of respondents support Barack Obama’s proposal to send about 30,000 additional soldiers to Afghanistan, while 40 per cent are opposed.

The Mission

Support for the military operation involving American soldiers in Afghanistan is at its lowest point this year (49%, down five points since October), while opposition has grown to 42 per cent (up seven points in two months).

People in the United States also appear to be questioning the decision to deploy troops to Afghanistan. More than a third of respondents (35%) believe the country made a mistake, a nine-point increase since October.

Half of Americans (52%) say they have a clear idea of what the war in Afghanistan is about.

When The War is Over

When asked about what they think will be the most likely outcome of the war in Afghanistan, one-in-five Americans (22%) expect a clear victory by U.S. and allied forces over the Taliban, and 26 per cent foresee a negotiated settlement from a position of U.S. and allied strength that gives the Taliban a small role in the Afghan government.

Significantly fewer respondents foresee either a negotiated settlement from a position of U.S. and allied weakness that gives the Taliban a significant role in the Afghan government (11%) or a military defeat of U.S. and allied forces by the Taliban (7%).

Obama’s Plan

Americans are not fully convinced about the plan for Afghanistan outlined by U.S. President Barack Obama. Only a third of respondents (32%) are very or moderately confident that the Obama Administration will be able “finish the job” in Afghanistan, while a majority (56%) are not too confident or not confident at all.

It is important to note that these numbers did not go through any significant shift since a survey conducted in the last week of November, before the troop increase announcement.


While few Americans are expecting this conflict to end in a position of weakness for the U.S. and its allies, the proposed course of action has proven controversial. During his speech, Obama argued that the country’s post-9/11 unity could be summoned once again in order to increase support for the military effort. After eight years of conflict, the proportion of supporters has dwindled, and a slightly smaller proportion is ready to endorse the new plan for Afghanistan.

Full Report, Detailed Tables and Methodology (PDF)


Ashley Grosse, Senior Vice President, US Public Affairs +415 489 7105

Mario Canseco, Vice President, Public Affairs +604 647 3570

Review the findings here:


Angus Reid Public Opinion is the public affairs practice of Vision Critical—a global research and technology company specializing in custom online panels, private communities, and innovative online methods. Vision Critical is a leader in the use of the Internet and rich media technology to collect high-quality, in-depth insights for a wide array of clients. Dr. Angus Reid and the Angus Reid Public Opinion team are pioneers in online research methodologies, and have been conducting online surveys since 1995

Angus Reid Public Opinion polls are conducted using the Angus Reid Forum (, Springboard America ( and Springboard UK ( online panels, which are carefully recruited to ensure representation across all demographic and psychographic segments of these populations. Panel members pass through rigorous screening and a double opt-in process ensuring highly motivated and responsive members. These premier online survey platforms present respondents with highly visual, interactive, and engaging surveys, ensuring that panel members provide thoughtful and reliable responses. Each survey is actively sampled and weighted to model that characteristics of the universe required and employs the latest in quality control techniques to ensure data validity.

More information on the way Angus Reid conducts public opinion research can be found at





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