I've been reading through this national Q poll, and don't really think the Obama numbers (approval below 50%) mean that much statistically, as his numbers are high among Democrats, low among Republicans, and about tied among Independents-- right where I would expect things to be given the times.
Now, the Afghanistan numbers more interesting as its more in-depth than the usual things. In particular, it tells you exactly how the presumed surge there will be framed, and how it will not be framed.
As a reason why we need US soldiers to die over there, and why we need to drive up the already high deficit:
It won't be argued that its to build a stable democratic government in Afghanistan; or that the US would be successful in such a measure.
It will be argued that its necessary to eliminate the threat from terrorists operating from Afghanistan; but not that the US will be successful in such an effort.
Its just time to decide; and since the only options on the table all involve escalation, failure is not an option considered, but instead presumed. The incremental 'win' (if you are scraping the bottom of the loyalty barrel and really need one) is that a vague notion of an 'exit plan' has emerged from the shadows.
Back to the poll. What is electorally interesting, in regards to backing the surge, isn't that Democrats and Republicans line up opposite, and Independents reside in the middle; but whom among the Democrats is most strongly against the escalation in Afghanistan-- and that has big implications for Obama.
Military households are not in majority support of our being involved in Afghanistan; with 48% in support, and 42% of those family members saying no, the US should not even be involved with Afghanistan right now. 64% of the military households don't believe that the US will succeed in nation-building in Afghanistan, and 55% of the military households doubt the US will succeed in rooting out the terrorists in Afghanistan.
Those numbers reflect a serious problem with military morale in regards to our being involved in Afghanistan.
Moving into the matter of escalation is where I see big political problems emerge. When asked if Obama should send the additional combat troops General Stanley McChrystal has requested, the strongest voice of opposition saying "no" is among Black (73%) and Hispanic (60%) respondents.
And further, when asked how long troops should remain in Afghanistan, those responding 'less than 2 years' overall, is 72% for Democrats; with Black (75%) and Hispanic (61%) numbers just as high.
One thing I've noticed with Obama is that he has always recognized when he's about to lose his credibility of what got him where he is today-- his anti-war stand on invading Iraq. He never once to my knowledge spoke a specific word about sending more troops into Afghanistan until after the nomination was secured, and then only two bridages. But often, and in much detail, he laid out his plan of deescalation from Iraq.
When John Edwards tried to move to the left of Obama over supplemental funding of the war, Senator Obama, who previously always voted in favor, quickly and predictably turned on a dime and found his voice of opposition. And he quickly covered back afterwards, and led the whip for his own subsequent war supplemental. I don't see anyway possible that Obama is going to change paths right now on Afghanistan-- he built the road and leads the surge. However, I believe he's finally sensing the dangerous path he's chosen with owning the Afghanistan war, and is looking for a way out. The numbers above show he has too.
That is, Obama's real '12 base, the one he cannot lose (and which really doesn't factor into '10 measuring) is the Black and Hispanic vote. He has to get equal those '08 numbers to win the '12 election in places like PA, FL, OH, MI, IN, VA, NC, NV, CO, and NM. He can afford to piss off liberal white anti-war voters, the progressive GLBT voters, and feminist single-women voters, but major policy reason for the massive turnout for Obama of Black and Hispanic voters, especially among the youth, was because of his position of getting the troops out of Iraq. And not for deficit or idealistic reasons, but simply to stop the deaths.
I'm already, after seeing the NJ and VA results, pessimistic that we will see those minority change voters participating in '10. Everyone assumes though, that '12 is another matter, and it will be switched on like a light bulb. The worst case scenario for ending 2010 for Democrats is to lose about 3-5 seats in the Senate, 15-20 in the House. Still in power, no momentum, and bogged down in a Democrat war.
I know there are some that believe that if the economy rebounds, all will be well and Afghanistan won't matter as much. Precisely the opposite of the truth though-- that the reason why Democrats aren't making as loud a noise over Obama leading an escalation in Afghanistan is because the economy and jobs situation is so dismal. There's not a way out of the occupation of Afghanistan other than leaving, so at the least, we have Obama now wondering and asking allowed, 'whats the exit plan' here... and make it 1-2 years max...