Nearly two-thirds of Americans now say the Afghan war has not been worth fighting according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll, a record high that comes as the war, already the longest in American history, approaches its eleventh year.
In the poll, 64% of all Americans said the Afghan war hasn’t been worth fighting — including 49% who feel that way strongly — both record highs. Further, only 31% said the war had been worth fighting, a record low.That high level of discontent is now on par with Americans’ opinion of the Iraq War, a war so loathed that it made President George W. Bush one of the least popular presidents in American history.
At a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Tuesday, Gen. Petraeus responded to the poll, saying “I think it’s important to remember why we are there. That’s where 9/11 began — that’s where the plan was made.”
At the same time, Americans’ confidence in their government has slipped to the lowest level in at least 35 years amid concerns that neither party has a good plan to fix the economy, and over dissatisfaction with the level of cooperation between President Obama and Congressional Republicans.
Only 26% of all adult Americans now say they’re optimistic about “our system of government and how well it works,” down seven points since last October, and the lowest level recorded in the poll since 1974 when the question was first asked. Meanwhile, almost as many people (23%) say they’re pessimistic about the U.S. government which, while not a record high, marks the closest those two responses have ever come to each other.
Americans’ views of the economy are equally pessimistic, as job growth and the broader economic recovery remain sluggish.
When asked who they believe has a better plan to fix the economy, 46% of Americans said they trusted the president, while 36% felt Republicans had a better plan. Yet at the same time, over half of all Americans (55%) said they were dissatisfied with Obama’s handling of the economy to date. That seems not to show that Americans have great faith in Obama’s plan to fix the economy, but rather that they just trust him more than Republicans.
At the same time, stunning majorities of Americans say that there is not enough cooperation between Republicans and Obama. In fact, for all the talk of bipartisanship that marked the 2008 campaign — and was dusted off in the wake of the tragedy in Tucson — Americans view the relationship between the White House and Congress as being even more polarized today than it was under President Bush.
Seventy-one percent of Americans say Congressional Republicans have done too little to compromise with Obama, compared to 56% who said the same of Congressional Democrats in 2003. And on the other side, 52% say Obama hasn’t done enough to compromise with Republicans.
On top of lingering concerns over the economic recovery in general, Americans are now expressing fresh fears about a crucial commodity: oil.
Seven in ten Americans said the recent spike in the price of gasoline has caused their family financial hardship, including 44% who said it has had a serious impact. Gas prices have risen recently in part because of the unrest in the Middle East.
The only bright spot for Obama in the poll is that a majority of Americans still approve of his job performance. In the poll, 51% of American said they approve of the job he has done as president, compared to 45% who said they disapproved.
The Washington Post/ABC News poll was conducted March 10-13 among 1,005 adults nationwide. It has a margin of error of 3.5%.