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Americans Divided Over Obama's Afghanistan Timetable

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Americans are divided over President Barack Obama's plan to pull almost all U.S. troops out of Afghanistan by the end of 2016, according to a new HuffPost/YouGov poll, but few want a commitment longer than the one the president has proposed.

Obama announced Tuesday that he plans a gradual drawdown of troops that would leave about 10,000 troops in Afghanistan by the end of this year, cut that in half by the end of 2015 and remove most remaining troops by the end of 2016.

Thirty-one percent of Americans in the new poll said the U.S. should stick to that timeline, while 35 percent want to withdraw all troops even sooner. Only 20 percent of Americans, though, said they want a commitment of U.S. forces in Afghanistan "as long it takes to accomplish [U.S.] goals."

In fact, more Americans (40 percent) think it was a mistake to send troops to Afghanistan in the first place than think it wasn't (36 percent).

The poll found a partisan divide on that issue. Democrats (46 percent to 30 percent) and independents (40 percent to 32 percent) were more likely to say that sending troops was a mistake, while a majority of Republicans (52 percent to 31 percent) said it was not a mistake.

Republicans in the poll were also the most likely to say they wanted a more open-ended commitment of troops going forward, with 37 percent of Republicans but only 18 percent of independents and 10 percent of Democrats saying so. But a majority of each group, including 53 percent of Republicans, 64 percent of independents and 79 percent of Democrats, said they support a timetable that removes all troops either by 2016 or sooner.

Despite the bipartisan majority supporting Obama's drawdown timeline or wanting a shorter one, 47 percent of Americans in the poll said they disapprove of Obama's handling of the war in Afghanistan, compared with 35 percent who approve. Republicans (72 percent to 19 percent) and independents (52 percent to 24 percent) mostly said they disapprove of Obama's handling of the issue, while Democrats mostly said they approve (64 percent to 21 percent).

The HuffPost/YouGov poll was conducted May 27-28 among 1,000 U.S. adults using a sample selected from YouGov's opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population. Factors considered include age, race, gender, education, employment, income, marital status, number of children, voter registration, time and location of Internet access, interest in politics, religion and church attendance.

The Huffington Post has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls. You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov's nationally representative opinion polling. Data from all HuffPost/YouGov polls can be found here.

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