Most Americans support withdrawing troops from Afghanistan; 43% support sending them to Haiti

July 15, 2021, 2:00 PM UTC

As the 20-year war in Afghanistan comes to an end with a U.S. troop pullout, Americans are prepared to regard the conflict as a mistake and support the troop withdrawal. But in the latest Economist/YouGov poll, they also express growing concerns about the state of the country and uneasiness about President Joe Biden’s ability to handle international crises. Still, many say they are willing to send U.S. troops to help another country in crisis – Haiti.   

The president’s approval rating has hovered around 50% since the beginning of his administration, but this week’s marks a low point for him. In May, presidential approval was as high as 55%, but now 47% approve of the president’s handling of his job – a drop of four points in the last week. Slightly more than four in ten (43%) disapprove. 

Most Democrats (86%) continue to give Biden their approval, although that figure typically had been 90% or more. Independents this week disapprove 49% to 42%. 

When it comes to the president’s ability to handle international crises, 44% are uneasy and just 38% have confidence in him. 

Afghanistan: the U.S. was losing, and the war was a mistake, say Americans 

There is strong support for the changes in US troop commitments in Afghanistan. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Americans expressed strong bipartisan support for sending troops there.  But now there is bipartisan support for ending the American commitment.  Overall, nearly three times as many (57%) favor troop withdrawal as oppose it (20%).  Troop withdrawals from Afghanistan began during President Donald Trump’s Administration, and while Democrats are support bringing troops home by 39 points, Republicans also support the current withdrawal by 13 points, 43% to 36%. 

The consensus is that the war itself was a mistake, and the U.S. is losing.  More than a decade ago, that was also the consensus.  Only 10% in a 2009 Economist/YouGov poll believed the U.S. was winning the war in Afghanistan, and just 14% say that today. In recent years, pluralities have agreed the entry into the war was a mistake. This week, 41% of the public calls the war in Afghanistan a mistake, and 26% disagree. Republicans are split 35% to 34% on that question.   

Despite supporting troop withdrawals, Americans are divided on the new President’s management of the war, with 34% approving and 36% disapproving. 

Haiti: four in ten Americans support sending soldiers 

The latest international crisis is happening closer to home, following last week’s assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse in his home (for which several Haitian Americans have been among the arrested).  Most in the poll are aware of this assassination, and many (43%) support sending U.S. troops there in response to the request for help from the interim Haitian government. Slight fewer are opposed (35%). 

Republicans and Independents are closely divided on the question of sending troops, while Democrats are in favor. 

See the toplines and crosstabs from this Economist/YouGov poll  

Related: Americans unsure on whether it’s right to hold the Tokyo Olympics, but support having spectators

Methodology: The Economist survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,500 US Adult Citizens interviewed online between July 10 - 13, 2021. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the US Bureau of the Census, as well as 2016 Presidential vote, registration status, geographic region, and news interest. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all US citizens. The margin of error is approximately 3% for the overall sample.   

Image: Getty