Opinion: Bin Laden bump fades already: Afghan war support and Obama job approval head down again


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No one ever accused Americans of being consistent in their political opinions. Now, fresh evidence.

A new Rasmussen Reports poll finds that 35% of likely voters want immediate U.S. troop withdrawal from the nearly 10-year-old war in Afghanistan. That’s the highest favoring immediate withdrawal ever.


Another 21% want a firm timetable set for withdrawal within one year.

That poll’s combined 56% is up four points from early March, up 13 points from last September and up 19 points from September of 2009, indicating mounting impatience with the war effort despite, or perhaps because, of two troop surges ordered by President Obama. He says he has a plan to end U.S. troop involvement there before 2015.

Of potential political significance is the fact that opposition to the nation’s longest war is by far largest among members of Obama’s own Democratic Party, 70% of whom favor immediate withdrawal or a firm timetable.

Among independents, that number is 54% and a growing 42% among Republicans, who once gave Obama his strongest support in that area.

This could be explained by the initial celebrations over Osama bin Laden’s death actually calling renewed attention to the stubbornly ongoing war, where obvious victories are few and far between.

A new Pew Research Center poll finds Obama’s approval rating, which spiked to 56% after his late-night announcement of the slaying of the Al Qaeda founder, has already fallen 10%, or six points, to 50%.

That and his disapproval rating (39%) have essentially returned to late-February levels, contrary to predictions that the positive bump would last weeks.

Pew finds views essentially unchanged among Americans about achieving the goals in Afghanistan. Sixty-two percent now say the country will probably or definitely achieve its goals there, while 24% say it will definitely or probably fail.


However, despite Bin Laden’s death, those numbers too are essentially unchanged, with 49% wanting U.S. troops out ASAP and 43% willing to maintain them until the situation is stabilized.

As of today, 2,445 allied troops have died in the Afghanistan fighting, 1,572 of them American; 165 have died so far this year, 126 of them American, about one fatality per day.

The president is off to El Paso, Texas, on Tuesday to try to change the subject again. He’ll talk there about how the country’s immigration system is still broken despite his 839 days in office.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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