McCain Tops Obama in Commander-in-Chief Test; Stays Competitive on Iraq

The Forgotten War in Afghanistan

This poll also finds very different views on the situation in Afghanistan, with notable concerns about the progress there. As noted, a bare majority of Americans, 51 percent, now say the U.S. military effort in Afghanistan has been unsuccessful, up from 24 percent in fall 2002. Just 44 percent see it as a success, down from 70 percent.

At the same time, 45 percent say the war in Afghanistan was not worth fighting — many fewer than say so about Iraq. And Afghanistan is more closely linked to terrorism: Just 42 percent say the war on terrorism can be a success without victory in Afghanistan, vs. the 60 percent who say so about Iraq.

Dividing Along Party Lines

Views of both wars divide clearly along partisan lines, with Democrats consistently holding more negative views, Republicans more positive ones. Independents, as so often is the case, tip the balance.

Majorities of Democrats and independents alike say the Iraq war was not worth fighting and that it's not linked to the broader war on terror; smaller majorities say there's been no significant progress there. Republicans take the opposite view on each of these.

On Afghanistan, however, independents side more closely with Republicans than with Democrats. Majorities of Republicans and independents think the war in Afghanistan was worth fighting and that the effort there is linked to the eventual defeat of terrorism more broadly. Majorities of Democrats disagree.

Similarly, 81 percent of Republicans oppose a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq while three-quarters of Democrats support one; independents divide, 53-47 percent

There's partisanship, as well, in views of Obama's readiness as commander-in-chief.

Sixty-nine percent of Democrats say he'd do well in this role; just 44 percent of independents and a mere 19 percent of Republicans agree. Majorities in all three groups, by contrast, say McCain would be a good commander-in-chief — 56 percent of Democrats, 74 percent of independents and a near-unanimous 94 percent of Republicans.

METHODOLOGY: This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by telephone July 10-13, 2008, among a random national sample of 1,119 adults, including an oversample of African Americans (weighted to their correct share of the national population), for a total of 209 black respondents. The results from the full survey have a 3-point error margin. Sampling, data collection and tabulation by TNS of Horsham, PA.

Click here for a PDF with charts and full questionnaire.

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