Biden’s numbers plunging in wake of Afghanistan turbulent exit

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Amid the tumultuous and chaotic withdrawal of U.S. forces and personnel from Afghanistan over the past couple of weeks, there’s no letup in the slide of President Biden’s approval ratings.

The president stands at 43% approval and 51% disapproval among Americans in a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist national survey that was released on Thursday. Biden’s approval rating is down 6 points from July, and it’s the president’s lowest approval in Marist polling since taking office in January.

The new survey is the latest to indicate that the rocky exit from Afghanistan, ending a two-decade U.S. military presence in the war-torn Central Asian country, is taking a toll on the president’s political standing.

Biden’s approval rating had hovered in the low to mid 50s since succeeding former President Trump in the White House. But his numbers starting sliding last month, as the crisis in Afghanistan dominated media coverage.

The president now stands at 45%-49% approval/disapproval in an average of the last surveys compiled by RealClearPolitics, and at 46%-48% in a compilation by the polling and analysis website FiveThirtyEight.

President Joe Biden salutes as first lady Jill Biden looks on from the stairs of Air Force One before boarding at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., for a trip to Dover Air Force Base, Del., Sunday, Aug. 29, 2021.
(AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez)

The president has been facing a barrage of bipartisan criticism for some three weeks for his handling of the hastily organized evacuation efforts, where U.S. forces rushed to rescue as many Americans and allied civilians as quickly as possible following the lightning-fast takeover of Afghanistan by repressive Taliban forces. 

More than seven in ten Americans – including supermajorities of Republicans, independents, and Democrats, say the U.S. role in Afghanistan was a failure. But more than six in ten say Afghanistan “must determine its future without U.S. involvement,” while 29% say the U.S. “has a duty” to stay involved.

“Although most Americans do not place the blame for the failed policy in Afghanistan on President Biden, many think he has mishandled the withdrawal of U.S. troops,” Marist Poll director Lee Miringoff highlighted. “The end of this chapter of American involvement in Afghanistan has taken a significant toll on Biden’s standing with Americans.”

The poll indicates Americans are divided on how the U.S. should have proceeded, with 37% saying all troops should have been withdrawn and 38% saying some should have remained in Afghanistan. Only one in ten opposed the withdrawal of any U.S. forces, with 5% saying more should have been sent to the country.

Nearly three-quarters of Americans – 73% – approve of allowing Afghan refugees to settle in the U.S. But amid growing pushback from former President Trump and his allies on the right, there’s a partisan divide on this question. Eighty-six percent of Democrats and 78% of independents – but just 49% of Republicans – approve of allowing Afghan refugees to resettle in the U.S.

The NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll was conducted from August 26 – the day of the horrific terrorist attack at Kabul’s airport – through August 31. Live telephone operators questioned 1,241 adults nationwide. The survey’s overall sampling error is plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.

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