Screen readers: Two navigational links to follow.Skip to site navigation.Skip to page content.
The University of Iowa News Services
The University of Iowa News Services Home News Releases UI in the News Subscribe to UI News Contact Us

University of Iowa News Release


Dec. 13, 2010

Poll: Most believe U.S. won't win Afghanistan war but support staying

As President Obama and NATO discuss future involvement in Afghanistan, the majority of Americans support continued troop presence for at least another year but also believe the United States will not win the war.

According to a national University of Iowa Hawkeye Poll released today, when asked if they thought whether the United States would win the war in Afghanistan, 52 percent of respondents said "no," 28 percent said "yes" and nearly 20 percent answered “don’t know” or refused to answer. Results also showed a sizable difference based on the individual’s party identification. Only 23 percent of Democrats and 25 percent of Independents believe the United States would win the war, whereas 41 percent of Republicans believe in eventual victory.

Topline data is available at:

Despite skepticism about the eventual victory in Afghanistan, the majority of Americans (57 percent) still support maintaining troop presence for at least another year. While nearly 40 percent of Americans support withdrawing troops within a year, 36 percent think the United States should maintain troops in Afghanistan for as long as it takes, and 21 percent support U.S. troop presence for an additional one to five years.

There is also significant partisan difference over a timetable for troop withdrawal. More than half of Democrats (51 percent) believe the United States should remove troops in less than a year, whereas only 17 percent of Republicans believe that should happen. At the same time, 61 percent of Republicans support keeping troops in Afghanistan as long as it takes, compared to only 16 percent of Democrats.

“Republican and Democratic leaders have been at odds regarding a troop withdrawal timetable and the public has lined up behind their partisan leaders,” said Nicholas Martini, a UI doctoral student in political science. Independents fell in between, with 40 percent wanting withdrawal within a year and 31 percent supporting keeping troops in place for as long as it takes to succeed.

Of the 1,458 participants, 28 percent were Democrat, 33 percent Republican and 29 percent Independent. Forty-six percent considered themselves moderate, while 16 percent self-identified as liberal and 36 percent were conservative. Reported results are weighted by state population and age. The margin of error for the full sample is plus or minus 2.5 percent.

The poll was conducted from Nov. 3-11 by the Hawkeye Poll Cooperative, which is composed of UI faculty and graduate students in the UI Department of Political Science, with the cooperation and facilities of the Iowa Social Science Research Center, which is directed by UI sociology professor Kevin Leicht. UI Associate Professor of Political Science Frederick Boehmke is faculty adviser for the poll. The poll is a teaching, research and service project of the UI Department of Political Science, which is part of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS). CLAS and the Office of the Provost fund the poll.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Nathan Darus, Hawkeye Poll, 319-335-3381 (office), 216-798-1682 (cell),; Kelli Andresen, University News Services, 319-384-0044,; Frederick Boehmke, Hawkeye Poll, 319-335-2342 (office), 716-866-9277 (cell),