• Polling

Communicating on the End of the Twenty-Year War

Thursday, September 2, 2021 By Bryan Bennett
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Welcome to NAVIGATOR – a project designed to better understand the American public’s views on issues of the day and help advocates, elected officials, and other interested parties understand the language, imagery, and messaging needed to make and win key policy arguments.

Key takeaways

  • Most Americans are hearing about the situation in Afghanistan, and a majority support withdrawing American troops.
  • Only one in four support returning American troops to Afghanistan.
  • The most convincing reasons to support Biden’s withdrawal of the troops focus on the human and financial costs from twenty years of war.

Nearly Every American Is Hearing About Afghanistan, Including About the Taliban, American Troops, and Casualties

Almost nine in ten Americans are hearing “a lot” or “some” about the ongoing situation in Afghanistan, including 87% of Democrats, 79% of independents, and 91% of Republicans.

By a Large Majority, Americans Support the United States Withdrawing from Afghanistan

Majorities of Americans who have served in the armed forces broadly (59%) and who know someone personally who has served in Afghanistan (59%) support the withdrawal of U.S. troops.

Only One in Four Americans Support Sending Troops Back into Afghanistan

Following the Taliban’s capture of Kabul, a majority support keeping American troops out of Afghanistan, including nearly three in five independents (58%). A majority (54%) who know someone who served in Afghanistan agree.

Financial and Human Costs Suffered in Afghanistan War Are Top Reasons to Support Biden’s Withdrawal of Troops

Among persuadable Americans who disapprove of Biden’s handling of Afghanistan but support withdrawing troops, messaging focused on the casualties of the war and the financial costs are most convincing.

Emphasizing the Loss of American Life in Afghanistan and the Well-Being of Troops Is Strongest Lane for Support

Again, among persuadable Americans who support the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan but disapprove of Biden’s handling of the withdrawal, focusing on American casualties and financial costs is strongest.

On Blame for Afghanistan Situation, All of Biden’s Predecessors Earn More Blame Than Just Citing Trump

While more independents blame Biden for his handling of the situation in Afghanistan than Donald Trump, more independents blame a combined Bush, Obama, and Trump more than Biden.

Emphasizing Trump’s Role in Afghanistan Is Slightly More Effective Response Than Biden’s Campaign Promise to Withdraw

A rebuttal to criticism of the Afghanistan situation that focuses on the Trump peace deal that imposed a May 2021 withdrawal is slightly stronger than one that focuses on Biden’s promise in his presidential campaign to pull the troops out. Among independents, the former wins by 3 points, while messaging on Biden’s campaign promise loses by 11.

Afghan Citizens Who Helped the U.S. Viewed Deeply Favorably as Majority Support Allowing Them into the U.S.

Pluralities of independents and Republicans support allowing more Afghan refugees into the United States.

Both Are Effective, But America’s Moral Duty to Take in Afghan Refugees Is More Compelling Point Than Republican Hypocrisy

A progressive response that America is morally obligated to take in Afghan refugees after so many of them have “risked their lives to help keep us safe” is more convincing than one that criticizes Republicans for complaining Biden is not doing enough, while also opposing the U.S. accepting Afghan refugees, against a conservative argument.

About The Study

This release features findings from a national online survey of 1,002 registered voters conducted August 26-30, 2021. Additional interviews were conducted among 105 Hispanic voters, 104 African American voters, 100 independents without a partisan lean, and 77 Asian American and Pacific Islander voters.

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About Navigator

In a world where the news cycle is the length of a tweet, our leaders often lack the real-time public-sentiment analysis to shape the best approaches to talking about the issues that matter the most. Navigator is designed to act as a consistent, flexible, responsive tool to inform policy debates by conducting research and reliable guidance to inform allies, elected leaders, and the press. Navigator is a project led by pollsters from Global Strategy Group and GBAO along with an advisory committee, including: Andrea Purse, progressive strategist; Arkadi Gerney, The Hub Project; Joel Payne, The Hub Project; Christina Reynolds, EMILY’s List; Delvone Michael, Working Families; Felicia Wong, Roosevelt Institute; Mike Podhorzer, AFL-CIO; Jesse Ferguson, progressive strategist; Navin Nayak, Center for American Progress Action Fund; Stephanie Valencia, EquisLabs; and Melanie Newman, Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

For press inquiries contact: press@navigatorresearch.org