President Trump’s December 18 announcement that he intends to withdraw all U.S. troops from Syria produced some isolated support in the anti-war wings of both parties, but largely provoked bipartisan outrage among in Washington’s reflexively pro-war establishment.
Both GOP Senator Lindsey Graham, one of the country’s most reliable war supporters, and Hillary Clinton, who repeatedly criticized President Obama for insufficient hawkishness, condemned Trump’s decision in very similar terms, invoking standard War on Terror jargon.
But while official Washington united in opposition, new polling data from Morning Consult/Politico shows a large plurality of Americans support Trump’s Syria withdraw announcement: 49% support to 33% opposition.
That’s not surprising given that Americans by a similarly large plurality agree with the proposition that “the U.S. has been engaged in too many military conflicts in places such as Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan for too long, and should prioritize getting Americans out of harm’s way” far more than they agree with the pro-war view that “the U.S. needs to keep troops in places such as Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan to help support our allies fight terrorism and maintain our foreign policy interests in the region.”
But what is remarkable about the new polling data on Syria is that the vast bulk of support for keeping troops in that Middle Eastern country come from Democratic Party voters, while Republicans and independents overwhelming favor their removal. The numbers are stark: of people who voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016, only 26% support the withdraw of troops from Syria, while 59% oppose it. Trump voters overwhelmingly support withdraw by 76%-14%.
A similar gap is seen among those who voted Democrat in the 2018 midterm elections (28% support withdraw while 54% oppose it), as opposed to the widespread support for withdraw among 2018 GOP voters: 74%-18%.
Identical trends can be seen on the question of Trump’s announced intention to withdraw half of the U.S. troops currently in Afghanistan, where Democrats are far more supportive of keeping troops in Afghanistan than Republicans and independents.
This case is even more stark since President Obama ran in 2008 on a pledge to end the war in Afghanistan and bring home all troops.