News & Politics
Premium

Why Polls on Afghanistan Troop Withdrawal Should Be Ignored

Gerry Broome

Polling people’s opinions on important foreign policy matters is flawed since the subject matter is rarely straightforward enough for a simple agree/disagree response.

Election polling is more black and white and less nuanced, such as “Which candidate do you support?” But on emotional issues, people often have complicated or less-informed feelings.

News stories on Afghanistan have long attempted to support the idea that Americans don’t want to be there.

In April, The Hill asked: “Do you approve or disapprove of Biden’s plan to remove the troops from Afghanistan?” Nearly 3 in 4 respondents approved.

Around the same time, Fox News asked: “Do you think the U.S. should remove all military troops from Afghanistan, or should some U.S. troops remain for counterterrorism operations?” Half answered that some troops should remain; 37 percent believed we should remove all troops.

In late May, Quinnipiac asked: “As you may know, President Biden has decided to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by September 11, 2021. Do you approve or disapprove of President Biden’s decision?” Sixty-two percent approved; just under 30 percent disapproved.

Irresponsible headlines quickly blared, “Overwhelming majority backs U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.”

Not really. Most people don’t know or care about what’s occurring “over there” or how it affects them here.

Shortly after Biden announced his surrender plans, the New York Times reported that “just 12 percent of Americans said they were closely following news related to the U.S. presence in Afghanistan.” So people have opinions, but they openly admit they are uninformed.

Some versions of the Afghanistan question also reference Biden, who, like any president, is divisive; therefore, even if you don’t know about Afghanistan, the question becomes a referendum on the president.

Finally, a yes or no answer to a deeply complex issue is silly.

What if removing all troops serving in Afghanistan means the Taliban reclaims control of the country? What if more scenes like this occur? If our withdrawal empowers China, Iran, or enables al-Qaeda to launch another 9/11-style terror attack, would you still support Biden’s plan?

“Never make decisions based on issue polls,” a polling expert told PJ Media Wednesday. “That also includes gun rights, abortion, climate change, racial matters, and more.”

As more tune in to the harrowing news from Afghanistan, cliches like “forever wars” and “nation-building” should fade, and support for withdrawing forces will plummet.