In April 2021, President Joe Biden announced that all American troops would be withdrawn from Afghanistan by 11 September 2021, after a peace deal signed last year under President Donald Trump committed the country to ending the war. The next month, our polling found 53% of Americans supported and 20% opposed the plan to withdraw troops by 11 September. Now, with all US troops departed from Afghanistan and the Taliban in power, the latest research by Redfield & Wilton Strategies looks at how Americans feel about the end of the US war in Afghanistan and how such feelings vary between states.
We polled Americans in Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin between 20 and 24 August—after the Taliban had captured Kabul, but before the 26 August terrorist attack at Kabul Airport that killed at least 90 Afghans and 13 US service members. Respondents were asked whether they support or oppose a number of measures introduced by President Joe Biden since his inauguration, including the decision to withdraw all US troops from Afghanistan by 11 September 2021.
Of the ten states we polled, Californians are the most likely to say they support the US withdrawal from Afghanistan: 46% support, 26% oppose, and 20% neither support nor oppose President Biden’s decision to withdraw troops. In the remaining nine states, respondents are much more divided. Support for the move is narrowly the plurality position in Georgia (43% support, 37% oppose), Virginia (42% support, 37% oppose), and Wisconsin (42% support, 37% oppose). The same is true of Arizona (42% support, 36% oppose), Florida (41% support, 36% oppose), and Pennsylvania (40% support, 36% oppose).
Public opinion is even more split in Ohio (42% support, 40% oppose), North Carolina (38% support, 38% oppose), and Texas (39% oppose, 37% support), with Texas being the only state polled to see an (albeit marginal) plurality of respondents say they oppose President Biden’s decision to withdraw all US troops from Afghanistan by 11 September.
In every state polled, a majority of 2020 Donald Trump voters say they oppose President Biden’s decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, ranging from 55% of such voters in California to 66% in Texas and Ohio. Conversely, a majority of 2020 Joe Biden voters in all states say they support the decision, in proportions that vary from 59% in Pennsylvania to 67% in Ohio. These results demonstrate that there is a decidedly partisan element to Americans’ responses.
Indeed, the states in which Joe Biden won in the 2020 Presidential Election are the most in support of the decision, while those in which he lost are generally the least supportive. To this point, of the ten states polled, California saw the largest share of votes go to Biden in 2020 (63.48%), and Ohio saw the largest share of votes go to Trump (53.27%). In line with these electoral outcomes, it is California that exhibits the most support and Ohio that exhibits the most opposition to the withdrawal of troops. Therefore, the degree to which Americans’ political affiliation impacts their views of the US’ withdrawal from Afghanistan is evidently extensive.
After almost 20 years at war in Afghanistan, the American military’s departure from the country was always likely to be subject to controversy. Our research confirms that the public is largely divided on the matter in the states we polled—with the exception of California, where opposition is relatively more limited. With many of these states being key swing states in the 2022 General Elections, it remains to be seen whether the Joe Biden Administration’s withdrawal of all American troops from Afghanistan and the events that have followed (and will follow) will have any impact on these elections.