Pew Poll: Majority supports Afghanistan withdrawal but few think Biden handled it well (Update)

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

It’s a mark of how dark things have been for Biden supporters over the past two weeks or so that the Washington Post’s progressive columnist Greg Sargent is greeting this new Pew poll as good news:

New polling from the Pew Research Center finds that Americans are taking a refreshingly nuanced view of the turbulent and tragic end to our 20-year involvement in Afghanistan.

The poll finds that a total of 71 percent say the Biden administration has done either an “only fair” job (29 percent) or a “poor” job (42 percent) at handling the situation. That’s obviously what Republicans are hoping for.

But Pew’s survey also finds that 54 percent nonetheless say that the decision to withdraw was the right one. Though these are separate questions, the fact that a solid majority still favors withdrawal even as large majorities are taking a dim view of the handling of it suggests many Americans will not allow their support for Biden’s underlying decision to be clouded by concerns about short-term execution.

That’s some really upbeat spin on a poll that is basically giving really low marks to the Biden administration. Here’s how Pew framed the results:

Only about a quarter (26%) say the administration has done an excellent or good job…and fewer than half of Democrats and Democratic leaners (43%) say it has done an excellent or good job.

When a minority of your own party thinks you handled something well, that’s not usually something to brag about. But again, the left is so desperate to extract Biden from the Afghanistan mess they’re willing to praise a poll which shows a 70% of their party agreed with the idea of withdrawing even if a majority also think he botched the execution.

Of course there’s more to what Sargent is suggesting in his column. He’s clearly hoping that the failure will be forgotten and the decision will be remembered. Maybe if we’d gotten everyone out without a body count that would have been true. But I don’t think we can forget the service members killed or the people left behind. In fact, we still don’t know how the situation is going to develop from here. The very worst of this may not be over yet. If the Taliban starts rounding up people and executing them in stadiums on television, the numbers will change and not in Biden’s favor. I really hope that won’t happen but the point is it’s a bit premature to declare this over.

There are a couple of other interesting results in this poll. For one, Democrats are about half as likely to think having the Taliban in control of Afghanistan represents a major threat to the US. I’m not sure anyone who remembers why we invaded in the first place would think it couldn’t happen again, especially not after reports that al Qaeda is already looking to regroup.

But the results on that question probably connect to the results on this one: Was the US right to invade Afghanistan in the first place? A majority of Democrats say no.

I guess it’s hard to remember back that far for some people. The war in Afghanistan was one that even President Obama supported at the time (as opposed to the Iraq war which he opposed). It’s really hard to imagine how, after the worst terror attack on US soil, we could have not gone to war to punish al Qaeda and the Taliban regime that gave them safe haven. But I guess 20 years is a long time and some of the people responding to these polls were just kids when 9/11 happened. Ignorance is the only way I can make sense of it.

Update: Here’s the kind of thing I had in mind when I suggested this wasn’t over yet. I hope this family gets out.