The majority of Americans, across political beliefs, support President Obama’s decision to halt the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, a new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows.
Notably, there is a lack of partisan division in the American public’s support for the president’s move.
A majority of Democrats (53 percent), Independents (51 percent), and Republicans (47 percent) polled are on board with Obama’s troop plan.
Although less than half of Republicans back the plan, the level of support outpaces the 42 percent opposition, marking a rare instance of GOP support for Obama’s measures.
The poll showed that more Democrats support the president’s move than Republicans.
In a similar Washington Post-ABC News poll conducted last December, more Republicans (66 percent) than Democrats (52 percent), favored President Obamas decision to keep nearly 10,000 American troops in Afghanistan through 2015 to train Afghan forces and assist in counterterrorism operation.
Overall, more than half of all Americans (54 percent) supported Obama’s plan to keep thousands of U.S. troops in Afghanistan to train and assist their Afghan counterparts while 43 percent opposed it. The residual force plan did garner rare bipartisan support, including 51 percent of Independents.
Earlier this month, 22 Republican members of the House Armed Services Committee, including five who are military veterans, sent a letter to President Obama urging him to keep 9,800 American troops in Afghanistan through 2016.
The letter was delivered before President Obama revealed that he will be dropping his original plan to draw U.S. forces in Afghanistan down to a small contingent of about 1,000 service members at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul after 2016.
During an Oct. 15 speech at the White House, Obama said that he will keep 9,800 troops in Afghanistan through 2015 with plans to draw that force down to 5,500 troops after 2016.
It remains unclear how long the 5,500 U.S. troops will remain in Afghanistan.
Gen. John Campbell, the top commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, has suggested extending the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan to avoid leaving behind a security vacuum that can potentially be filled by terrorist groups like the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) and the Taliban as well as superpowers like Russia and China.
On Oct. 15, President Obama admitted that his plan to withdraw most troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2016 was not feasible, noting that security in Afghanistan is “fragile” and at risk of deteriorating.
Under the new plan, the President will be handing over the conflict to his successor.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Hillary Clinton, the frontrunners for the Democratic presidential nomination, have said they support President Obama’s plan to prolong the Afghanistan war, the longest in U.S. history.
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) welcomed President Barack Obama’s decision to reverse the withdrawal of American service members from Afghanistan.
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said the U.S. House of Representatives would review the president’s plan, adding that Obama was right to give up on “arbitrary political deadlines” for drawdown of American troops.
U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) stopped short of explicitly showing support Obama’s plan, noting that she looked forward to “a high-level briefing” on the decision.
Harry Reid (D-NV), the U.S. Senate minority leader, has not commented on the president’s decision.