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Fox News Poll: Voters Say Afghanistan Matters, US Safer after Action in Iraq

In this Saturday, April 28, 2012 file photo, Iraqi army soldiers remove concrete blast walls in Baghdad, Iraq. In Baghdad, life goes on much as it has since the Ottoman sultan ruled these parts. Yet the legacy of a war that began a decade ago remains very much a part of life here too.AP

Less than half of American voters support the war in Afghanistan, yet there’s widespread belief that what happens over there matters here at home.  

A just-released Fox News poll also finds that a majority agrees the country is safer today because of the U.S. military action taken in Iraq.  

CLICK TO VIEW THE FOX NEWS POLL

Seven in 10 voters (71 percent) believe what happens in Afghanistan is important to their security here.  That’s down from 76 percent who felt that way in 2010, and a high of 83 percent in 2009.  

Across the board, majorities of Republicans (79 percent), Democrats (67 percent) and independents (63 percent) believe Afghanistan matters to their safety.  

Even so, less than half of voters -- 47 percent -- support the U.S. military action in Afghanistan.  That represents a significant drop from the 62 percent who supported the action in both 2011 and 2010.

Among partisans, the biggest decline in support is among Democrats (down 22 percentage points) -- although fewer independents (down 13 points) and Republicans (down 9 points) back the action now as well.  

President Obama announced in his State of the Union speech in February the U.S. would withdraw more than 30,000 troops from Afghanistan, or about half of the 66,000 troops still there, by early next year.  

Iraq

By a 20-point margin, more voters agree (58 percent) than disagree (38 percent) that the United States and the world are safer today because of the U.S. military action taken in Iraq.  That is unchanged from 2010, when 58 percent also agreed.

One major shift comes among Democrats:  54 percent now say the Iraq war has made the U.S. safer, up from 44 percent who felt that way in 2010.  

Among Republicans (down 9 points) and independents (down 3 points) the shift is in the opposite direction, as fewer now believe the war has made the country safer than did three years ago.

Poll Pourri …

Voters disapprove of the Transportation Security Administration’s recent announcement that it will again allow small knives and certain sporting equipment on planes.  The policy change has met resistance from airline crew members and lawmakers on Capitol Hill alike.  

More than two-thirds of voters say pocket knives should not be allowed on board airplanes (68 percent), and over half don’t think things like golf clubs and souvenir baseball bats should be permitted either (55 percent).  There’s a 13-point gender gap on allowing small knives on planes: 37 percent of men would allow them, compared to 24 percent of women.

Most Democrats (72 percent), Republicans (67 percent) and independents (63 percent) disagree with the TSA’s decision on knives.  

About half of voters are familiar with Sen. Rand Paul’s recent 13-hour filibuster to call attention to the Obama administration’s policy on unmanned drones in the war against terrorism.  Among just those voters, 55 percent say Paul’s filibuster was an “important act,” while 39 percent say it was “an embarrassing political stunt.”

The Fox News poll is based on landline and cell phone interviews with 1,002 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide and was conducted under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R) from March 17 to March 19.  The full poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.

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