OBAMA – Obama's credentials to serve as commander-in-chief were a subject of debate during the presidential campaign; in late October, with Obama ahead on other gauges, John McCain led him by 19 points as the better military leader. Nonetheless, as noted, 62 percent now approve of Obama's handling of Afghanistan, 10 to 19 points better that his ratings on the economy, unemployment, health care and the deficit. And 56 percent in this poll say he is a good commander-in-chief of the military; 37 percent disagree.
PARTISANSHIP – Bottom-line assessments of both wars also are informed by partisan differences. In Afghanistan, 71 percent of Republicans call the war "worth fighting," vs. 51 percent of independents and 41 percent of Democrats. In Iraq, similarly, 65 percent of Republicans say it was worth the fight, compared with 37 percent of independents and just 12 percent of Democrats.
The question of progress in Iraq, though, is one on which partisanship largely evaporates. Two-thirds of Republicans and independents alike think progress is being made; fewer Democrats, but still 54 percent, say the same.
They've taken different paths to this point, though: Positive views about progress in Iraq have more than doubled among Democrats and risen by 20 points among independents since July 2008, but actually are down by 9 points among Republicans since last year.
There's still a broad ideological gap: Seventy-two percent of conservatives see progress in Iraq, vs. 58 percent of moderates and 51 percent of liberals. But that's up among liberals by 31 points from this time last year.
METHODOLOGY – This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by telephone July 15-18, 2009, among a random national sample of 1,001 adults, including landline and cell-phone-only respondents. Results for the full sample have a 3.5-point error margin; for half samples, 5 points. Click click here for a detailed description of sampling error. Sampling, data collection and tabulation by TNS of Horsham, Pa.