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While Obama patiently ponders Afghan policy, impatient Americans are already deciding: poll

November 17, 2009 |  3:28 pm

As the globe-trotting President Obama presumably ponders his military options in the eight-year war in Afghanistan that isn't going that well, some ominous new poll numbers just out this afternoon for him to include.

Although the freshman president maintains that he's still patiently considering the options presented to him in late August and other questions asked since, any decision and announcement have been postponed further until the end of his latest foreign junket.

Afghan war Fighting

Meanwhile, the American public is already impatiently indicating its crumbling support for the conflict, the casualties, the financial costs and the idea of boosting our troop commitment in that troubled land.

Fifty-two percent of the 1,001 adult Americans polled Nov. 12-15 now say the war there has not been worth the cost, down 13 points in the last 11 months.

That's not a good sign for a president heading into a likely decision to increase that commitment -- and facing crucial midterm elections next year.

According to the new ABC News/Washington Post Poll, only 44% now say the war has been worth it, the smallest support percentage in nearly three years. The poll has a margin of error of +/-3.5%.

Once, Obama's war policies were his strongest poll suit (63%). Now, only 45% approve of Obama's handling of Afghanistan; more (48%) don't. His war support among independents, a crucial ingredient in the Democrat's election victory 54 weeks ago, has slipped to 39%.

Support for additional commitments is particularly weak among young voters and women.

Obama, like President Bush before him in both Afghanistan and Iraq, has made a main argument that it's better to fight terrorism over there and deny terrorists safe training and staging havens than endure repeat 9/11 attacks on the homeland.

Ominously, for Obama, however, less than a quarter of Americans now buy that argument. Nearly two-thirds (64%) currently say the risk of terrorism at home is the same whether we continue to fight there or withdraw.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: EPA