Although the Iraq war remains wildly unpopular, according to a new ABC News/Washington Post poll, Americans are divided over Barack Obama’s plan to withdraw the troops within 16 months of taking office.
According to the poll, Americans are split 50%-49% on whether on not they prefer Obama’s plan. Neither Obama or McCain is very trusted on Iraq. Forty five percent of those surveyed trust Obama more, and 47% trust McCain. 63% said that the war in Iraq was not worth fighting, and 60% say winning in Iraq is not essential for winning the war on terror.
This should be good news for Obama, but the poll also reveals that the Illinois Senator is having trouble projecting the image of a Commander in Chief. The respondents were divided at 48% over the question of whether Obama would be a good Commander in Chief. In contrast, 72% believed that McCain would be a good Commander in Chief.
My interpetation of these results is that most Americans know that we have gotten ourselves into a mess in Iraq, but they aren’t convinced that either presidential candidate has the right plan to get us out. It would also appear that, although Obama would seem to have the national mood on his side, many voters don’t know him well enough yet to convince them that he would be a good Commander in Chief.
Where Obama might be able to sway some voters is on the issue of Afghanistan, where for the first time ever a majority of those polled (51%) said that things are not going well there. McCain has thus far focused his entire strategy on Iraq, and left the door open for Obama to define this issue of Afghanistan.
It seems that Obama’s biggest challenge between now and November will be to convince a majority of voters that he is ready to be Commander in Chief. If he succeeds, he will run away with this election, but if he fails, we could be looking at a replay of 2000 and 2004.
Full poll results in PDF