Tea Party Voters Worry About Afghan War Price Tag

by , January 13, 2011

The Afghanistan Study Group has just completed a survey of conservative attitudes about the Afghanistan War – including voters who identify themselves as part of the Tea Party movement.   Results show that conservative voters are highly concerned about the high costs of US military expenditures in the war that are slated to be $119 billion for Fiscal Year 2011.

According to findings, conservative Americans worry that the substantial annual costs of the Afghanistan War will make it much more difficult for the U.S. to reduce the deficit and balance the federal budget by the end of this decade. 

Two-thirds, or more, of conservatives in all age and gender groups are worried about the war’s high cost.  Only a quarter of conservatives believe the U.S. should maintain current troop levels while 66% believe the U.S. should either reduce the number of troops (39%) or begin the process of leaving altogether (27%). A majority of those polled agree that the U.S. government can reduce troop levels without compromising security. 

Only 28% of Tea Party supporters believe that the U.S. should maintain current troop levels while 64% believe the government should either reduce the number of troops (37%) or begin the process of leaving altogether (27%).

Also, more conservatives believe the war has been worth the costs sustained thus far than those who believe the war has not been worth it.  However, even among those who have supported the war and believe the effort has been worth the high costs, as many believe the U.S. should reduce the number of troops as believe the government should continue at the same levels.  On this question, there is little difference between conservatives who closely identify with the Tea Party movement and conservatives who don’t.

The poll was conducted by Third Eye Strategies of Springfield, VA over the period of January 4-10, 2011. Those polled were drawn from a sample of randomly selected phone numbers.  This poll contains 1,000 registered voters who describe their political ideology as conservative.  Voters with listed landline phones, unlisted landline phones, and cellular phones were eligible to be called. The data were adjusted slightly by gender, age, and phone use to most accurately reflect the distribution of conservatives nationally.

All polls are subject to errors caused by interviewing a sample of persons, rather than the entire population. In 95 cases out of 100, the responses to the sample of 1,000 should be within plus or minus 3.1 percentage points of those that would have been obtained from interviewing the entire population of registered conservative voters. In this survey, 550 respondents describe themselves as part of the “Tea Party Movement”. The margin of error for this group is 4.2 percentage points. The sampling error for other subgroups of the survey will be greater.

The poll results and crosstabs as well as analysis can be viewed here:


The Afghanistan Study Group is a bipartisan ad hoc group of public policy practitioners, former U.S. government officials, academics, business representatives, policy-concerned activists and association leaders concerned with the Obama administration’s policy course in Afghanistan and to a more limited degree, Pakistan.  The group was founded by Steve Clemons and Richard Vague.  Matthew Hoh, a former Marine and State Department official, serves as Director.

This project is intended as a serious “Team B” policy effort focused on confronting threats to the national interest from al-Qaeda and affiliates, while remaining mindful of economic realities and the other challenges to U.S. security. The Study Group believes there is a strong possibility the Obama administration’s present strategy will fail to stabilize Afghanistan. The Study Group also believes that U.S. national interests will be strengthened if alternatives to the current strategy are developed and debated in advance.  

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