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Poll: Americans back Obama troop redeployment plan

  • Story Highlights
  • New CNN/Opinion Research Corp. Poll released Thursday
  • Poll: 55 percent support Obama's plan to withdraw troops from Iraq
  • A majority of those polled -- 52 percent -- "favor" the war in Afghanistan
  • 79 percent are confident that Obama will improve foreign relations
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From Paul Steinhauser
CNN Deputy Political Director
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Americans back Barack Obama's plan to move U.S. troops from Iraq to Afghanistan, a new national poll indicates.

U.S. soldiers gather at the "Cross Swords" in Baghdad's secure Green Zone earlier this year.

U.S. soldiers gather at the "Cross Swords" in Baghdad's secure Green Zone earlier this year.

Fifty-five percent of people questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Thursday back the president-elect when it comes to reducing the number of American combat troops in Iraq and increasing the number in Afghanistan.

"The reason is simple," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "The war in Iraq is very unpopular, while a majority support the war in Afghanistan."

Sixty-three percent of those polled oppose the war in Iraq, with 36 percent "favor" it. Fifty-two percent "favor" the war in Afghanistan, with 46 percent in opposition.

"In addition, roughly half the public thinks that the U.S. is winning in Iraq, but six in 10 say that America's losing in Afghanistan," adds Holland.

That forty-nine percent who now say the U.S. is winning the war in Iraq (with an equal amount saying the U.S. is not winning) is up from 32 percent last year.

"To the American public, Afghanistan is the good war, and it's going badly. Iraq is the bad war, and it's going fairly well," CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider said.

The poll suggests that Americans believe that the president-elect will remove all combat troops from Iraq.

Obama told reporters Monday in Chicago that he still thinks 16 months is the "right time frame" for removing U.S. combat troops from the country. Sixty-three percent of those questioned in the survey are confident that Obama will do just that, with 36 percent not confident.

A vast majority of Americans, 79 percent, also appear to be confident that Obama will improve foreign relations, with 74 percent confident he'll improve economic conditions and 68 percent optimistic about Obama keeping the country safe from terrorism.

"In the wake of the recent attacks in Mumbai, India, concerns about terrorism here in the U.S. have grown a bit, but most Americans don't think a terrorist attack is likely in the next few weeks," said Holland.

In fact, the 36 percent who say acts of terrorism are likely in the U.S. over the next several weeks is up only slightly from the 30 percent who felt the same way in September, the last time the question was asked.

"The dispute between India and Pakistan may be the next big flash point in world affairs, but Americans want this country to stay out of it," Holland added.

Eight in 10 think the U.S. should side with neither country, with 15 percent saying side with India and one percent wanting to side with Pakistan.

And in a sign that Obama is enjoying a honeymoon with Americans right now, 64 percent of those polled approve of how he handled the terrorist attack in India. That's 15 points higher than President Bush scored in the survey, even though Obama made clear during the crisis that there can be only one American president at a time and that he was deferring to Bush when it came to any American response.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted Monday and Tuesday, with 1,096 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

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