In the past six months, the American public has not changed its assessment of the war in Afghanistan — roughly half (47%) still say the military effort is going well — but there has been a significant decline in the percentage saying the U.S. will achieve its goals in that country. Currently, less than half (49%) say the U.S. will succeed in Afghanistan, down from 59% in June. Furthermore, the public is now split on whether U.S. and NATO troops should remain in Afghanistan — 44% favor keeping troops there until the situation has stabilized, while 47% want troops removed as soon as possible. In June, Americans supported keeping troops in Afghanistan by a 53%-to-40% margin. The shift away from keeping troops in Afghanistan is especially pronounced among members of President Obama’s political party. Just 35% of Democrats presently support keeping troops in Afghanistan until the situation has stabilized, down from 50% in June. A 57%-majority of Democrats say troops should be removed as soon as possible. Republicans (59% say keep troops in Afghanistan) and independents (45% keep troops in Afghanistan) are more supportive of an American and NATO military presence in Afghanistan than are Democrats, but both groups are less supportive than they were in the summer. The belief that the U.S. will achieve its goals in Afghanistan is also noticeably down across political lines. Read More

Russell Heimlich  is a former web developer at Pew Research Center.