On Thursday, at least 13 Americans and dozens of others were killed by two explosions at an airport in Kabul, Afghanistan where the United States military is working to evacuate citizens and refugees. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, which came as the U.S. is seeking to meet its August 31 deadline to remove all troops from Afghanistan after 20 years in the country.
A YouGov poll of 1,200 registered voters Thursday afternoon found that nearly half of registered voters (47%) believe the attack at the Kabul airport shows that the U.S. decision to leave Afghanistan is the right one, as a plurality believe the U.S. troop presence in the country “only leads to violence and doesn't make us safer.” About four in ten (38%) believe that the attack proves that the U.S. should not leave Afghanistan as the country remains a threat.
Democrats are far more likely to see the attack as showing the U.S. is right to leave Afghanistan (69%), compared to 17% of Republicans. Most Republicans (72%) say the attack shows the U.S. is wrong to leave, something just 16% of Democrats believe.
Will President Biden bear responsibility?
After a war that spanned the terms of four presidents, President Joe Biden has been the face of the exit from Afghanistan — for better or worse. While leaving Afghanistan was popular earlier this year, the president more recently has faced sharp criticism and blame for a poorly executed withdrawal.
When asked during a press conference on Thursday if he bears responsibility for recent events, he acknowledged that he did (though he also blamed his predecessor, Donald Trump, for the deal Trump negotiated with the Taliban while in office).
“I bear responsibility for, fundamentally, all that's happened of late,” Biden said. More than half of registered voters (56%) believe the current commander-in-chief deserves a great deal (40%) or fair amount (16%) of blame for the attack at the Kabul airport. One in three believe Biden either deserves not much blame (16%) or none at all (20%). Democrats are much more likely than Republicans to absolve the president of blame. One in 10 Democrats (10%) say Biden deserves a great deal of responsibility for the attack, compared to 82% of Republicans.
Americans expect more attacks, but do not want to leave before evacuations are done
Biden has said that the U.S. is on track to meet its August 31 deadline to finish evacuating U.S. citizens and allies and to leave Afghanistan, but that meeting the deadline depends on the Taliban's cooperation.
Two in three voters (67%) believe that it is “very likely” that there will be additional attacks on U.S. military in the region in the next week. Republicans (88%) are more likely than Democrats (53%) to expect more strikes.
If August 31 arrives and the United States is not finished with evacuations, more than half of voters (57%) believe that the U.S. military should remain in the face of potential attacks until the evacuation is done, either after attempting to negotiate with the Taliban for an extension (25%) or without negotiating (32%). Only 30% think the military should leave without completing the evacuation, either in case of failing to reach agreement with the Taliban for an extension (17%) or immediately (13%).
Methodology: YouGov polled 1,200 registered voters on August 26, 2021 between 3:47 p.m. and 5:14 p.m. Eastern time. The survey was carried out through YouGov Direct. Data is weighted according to age, gender, education level, political affiliation and ethnicity to be nationally representative of adults in the United States. The margin of error is approximately 3.8% for the overall sample.