- The Washington Times - Monday, August 30, 2021

Americans give President Biden poor remarks on his handling of Afghanistan and more than eight in 10 want U.S. troops to stay until all Americans have been evacuated from the volatile nation — even as the president sticks to his Tuesday deadline for getting out, according to a poll released Monday.

The ABC News/Ipsos poll finds 59% of Americans disapprove of Mr. Biden’s handling of Afghanistan, while only 38% approve.

The withdrawal after 20 years of war has been marked by chaos, with frantic efforts to pull U.S. citizens and qualifying Afghans from Kabul. A terror attack last Thursday killed 13 U.S. troops.

Disapproval of Mr. Biden is a stark turnabout from late July, when 55% of Americans approved of his performance in Afghanistan and 41% disapproved. That was before the country fell swiftly to the Taliban, precipitating frantic evacuations.

The poll found 84% of Americans think U.S. troops should stay in Afghanistan until all Americans have been evacuated, while 71% said the troops should stay until all Afghans who aided the U.S. can be evacuated.

Mr. Biden received far better marks on his handling of another crisis — COVID-19 — with 64% approving and 35% disapproving of his handling of the pandemic even as the delta variant of the coronavirus causes a surge in cases and fills hospitals in places.

Those marks are largely unchanged from a month ago, and Mr. Biden remains above water on the economic recovery, at 55% approval versus 41% disapproval.

Americans also favor Mr. Biden on infrastructure, with 62% approving of his performance versus 35% who disapprove after the Senate passed a bipartisan package to fix roads, bridges and airports and expand broadband access.

The president fares much worse on immigration, 41% approval versus 56% disapproval, amid the ongoing surge in migrants at the southern border. He also does poorly on gun violence, 44% to 52%, and crime generally, 46%-50%, though his marks improved on each of those topics compared to July.

“Americans’ views of President Biden’s handling of Afghanistan have turned sharply negative since before the fall of Kabul in late July,” the pollsters said. “However, evaluations of Biden’s performance on crime and gun violence have improved slightly over the last month, potentially as media and public focus has been pulled abroad.”

With all eyes on Afghanistan, two-thirds of Americans are very or somewhat worried about a major terror attack in the U.S., while a third is not worried.

However, 56% said the end of a military presence in Afghanistan “makes no difference” in keeping the U.S. safe from terrorism.

Only 7% said the exit made the U.S. safer while 36% said it made the homeland less safe.

The poll was conducted among more than 500 adults on Aug. 27-28.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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