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Poll: Obama Popularity Below 50% for First Time

Wednesday, 18 Nov 2009 08:57 AM

President Barack Obama's job approval rating has dipped below 50 percent nationally for the first time, as Americans worry about the war in Afghanistan, a new poll released Wednesday found.

The Quinnipiac University poll showed 48 percent of Americans approve of the way Obama is handling his job as president, compared to 42 percent who disapprove.

The president also scored low marks from Americans on his handling of the situation in Afghanistan, with just 38 percent saying they approved of his approach, but a majority did say it was the "right thing" for US troops to be in the country.

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Obama is in the process of picking a new strategy for the conflict in Afghanistan and weighing a request from his top commander in the country, General Stanley McChrystal, for an additional 40,000 troops.

The poll showed Americans favor, by a small margin, the dispatch of those reinforcements to Afghanistan, with 47 percent saying Obama should approve the increase, compared to 42 percent who opposed it.

Whatever strategy Obama picks, Americans are clearly in favor of an approach that targets extremists and oppose attempts at nation-building.

Just 37 percent said "building a stable democratic government" in Afghanistan would be a worthwhile goal for US troops to fight and die for, compared to 65 percent who said "eliminating the threat from terrorists" would be a worthy aim.

As Obama takes his decision on Afghanistan, he has emphasized the need to ensure an exit strategy, and Americans expressed little appetite for extending US involvement in the country indefinitely.

Just two percent were willing to see US troops remain there for five to 10 years, with 31 percent preferring to see American soldiers return home within the year, but another 27 percent say they would be willing to extend the commitment for "as long as it takes."

Of the 2,518 voters polled by Quinnipiac, 53 percent said they trust Obama to make the right decision about troop levels in Afghanistan.

Copyright AFP. All rights reserved.


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