How badly did Joe Biden bungle the Afghanistan retreat? Marquette’s latest survey gives us yet another measure of Biden’s incompetence. Despite executing a strategy supported by 74% of all respondents even after the disgrace had already taken place, nearly two-thirds of all respondents disapproved of Biden’s performance on it. Accordingly, Biden’s job approval fell ten points since July, yet another indication that Afghanistan and not COVID-19 is driving his polling dive:
Nearly two-thirds of Americans disapprove of how President Joe Biden handled the withdrawal from Afghanistan — even as a larger share of the public supports the decision to leave the country after 20 years, according to a poll released Thursday.
The national poll by Marquette University Law School revealed the ambivalent feelings Americans have about the end of the United States’ presence in Afghanistan. Those surveyed didn’t like how Biden dealt with the situation even though 74% supported the decision to leave.
Biden’s approval dropped by 10 points in recent months as the withdrawal unfolded, the poll found. Forty-eight percent said they approved of how he was doing his job, down from 58% in July.
It’s straight-up 2:1 disapproval among independents, even while 78% of them approve of withdrawing all troops from Afghanistan:
Table 1: Approve or disapprove of Biden’s handling of withdrawal from Afghanistan, by party identification, Sept. 2021
Party ID Approve Disapprove Republican 6 94 Independent 33 66 Democrat 68 32
If nothing else, this demonstrates the utter failure of Biden’s strategy to equate criticism of his withdrawal with a desire for “forever wars.” Biden and his team attempted several times to argue that his only critics were those who objected to the withdrawal in the first place, and that support would rebound after the supposedly momentary chaos of the execution of the withdrawal. We’re three weeks out from that, however, and in poll after poll, voters seem quite adept at distinguishing between a strategic objective and a historic and craven disgrace.
Notably, Marquette follows the lead of other pollsters and never even asks a question about the Americans abandoned by Biden in Afghanistan. That is a veeeeerrrry curious lacuna in public polling, especially at this point, when it might help explain the vast difference between support for the withdrawal as a concept and the highly negative response to Biden’s execution of it. I’m not aware at this point of any major national poll that has attempted to measure public response to this issue, at least over the last couple of weeks, even though it seems to be dogging Biden’s standing significantly. Why would that be? Hmmm. [See update below.]
And make no mistake — Biden’s standing has eroded significantly between this survey and Marquette’s last poll in July. Two months ago, Biden’s job approval stood at 58/42, a +16 net. Today’s poll puts him at 48/52, a 20-point swing in the gap. Among independents, Biden went from 57/43 to a mirror-image 43/57 in that same period, a 28-point shift in the gap. His approval even among Democrats dropped seven points, from 96/3 to 89/11.
That’s not a COVID-19 issue, clearly, but just in case, Marquette shows Biden at an over 56/43 on the pandemic response, with indies almost on point at 55/45. Biden’s not in trouble because of the administration’s failure to manage expectations on the virus.
This is all about Afghanistan, and likely all about the abandoned Americans, even while pollsters avoid the question. Unfortunately, they’re not the only ones avoiding it. The State Department held three different briefings yesterday for the press, and not one of them addressed the plight of Americans still abandoned in Afghanistan. The final briefing featured two senior officials and included Afghanistan as a topic, and yet not one of the 18 mentions of Afghanistan had to do with the Americans Biden abandoned, not even in the questions from reporters. What a disgrace.
Update: Scott Rasmussen actually did poll on that question early this month, and the results seem in line with what we’re seeing in Biden’s approval ratings:
Just 38% of Registered Voters approve of President Biden’s decision to remove all troops from Afghanistan before all Americans were evacuated from that country. A Scott Rasmussen national survey found that 54% disapprove and 8% are not sure.
Those totals include 17% who Strongly Approve of the decision and 41% who Strongly Disapprove.
Sixty-eight percent (68%) of Democrats approve of the president’s decision. However, 78% of Republicans and 58% of Independent voters disapprove.
The survey also found that 74% of voters think it’s at least somewhat likely that Americans left behind in Afghanistan will eventually be discovered by the Taliban and tortured or killed. Only 14% consider it unlikely.
So where are other pollsters on this?