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Minnesota Poll: Voters support resettling Afghan refugees in Minnesota communities

A new KARE 11/MPR News/Star Tribune/FRONTLINE Minnesota Poll found 53% of Minnesota voters would support resettling Afghan refugees in their own community.

MINNESOTA, USA — On Aug. 30, 2021, the United States completed its withdrawal from Afghanistan after maintaining a presence in the Middle East country for 20 years.

A new KARE 11/MPR News/Star Tribune/FRONTLINE Minnesota Poll found that most Minnesota voters approve of the decision to leave Afghanistan, but are divided over the Biden administration's handling of it.

The poll, conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy, interviewed 800 registered voters across the state of Minnesota between Sept. 13-15. The poll has a standard +/- 3.5% margin of error.

OPINION ON U.S. WITHDRAWAL FROM AFGHANISTAN

Credit: KARE 11

When asked to share their opinion on the withdrawal of U.S. troops and civilians from Afghanistan, 27% of voters said they support the withdrawal and approve of the Biden administrations handling of the process, 45% said they support withdrawal but disapprove of how the president handled it, 15% opposed withdrawal and 13% said they're not sure how they feel.

Based on age, voters 18-34 showed the most support for how the Biden administration handled the Afghanistan at 34%. Another 40% in that age bracket said they support the withdrawal but disapprove of how it was handled, and just 9% said they don't support withdrawal from the country at all. People ages 50-64 showed the least amount of support for the Biden administration's handling of the situation at 22%. Another 49% said they support withdrawal from Afghanistan but don't support the process that unfolded. In that group, 17% of voters opposed withdrawal altogether.

Democrats and Republicans both generally support the United States' decision to leave Afghanistan, but are sharply divided in their opinions on how the process was handled by President Biden. Just 1% of Republicans said they support the decision and approve of how the administration handled it, while 64% of GOP voters say they support the move but don't approve of the administration's handling. Another 25% oppose withdrawal and 10% are unsure.

Among Democrats, 53% both approve of withdrawal and support the Biden administration's handling of the situation, 21% support withdrawal but don't like how it was handled, 8% oppose withdrawal from Afghanistan completely and 18% aren't sure.

Twenty-one percent of Independent voters said they both support and approve the process, 55% support but disapprove of the process, 13% oppose leaving the country and 11% were unsure.

WAS THE EFFORT IN AFGHANISTAN WORTH IT

Credit: KARE 11

Voters were also asked to think about the last 20 years of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan, initiated by the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, and say whether they felt the effort was worth it.

More voters said the effort in Afghanistan was not worth it (46%), while 31% said it was worth it. Another 23% of Minnesota voters polled said they weren't sure.

Men and women had similar feelings about America's involved in Afghanistan, with 30% of men saying it was worth it, 48% saying it wasn't worth it, and 22% saying they're not sure. Among women the numbers were similar: 32% said worth it, 44% said not worth it, and 24% indicated they were unsure.

Voters from all political demographics were closely aligned in their responses to this question, though more Republicans said the U.S. involvement in Afghanistan wasn't worth it (50%), compared to 45% of Democrats and 43% of Independents. Slightly more Independents said our involvement was worth it (34%), followed by 31% of Republicans and 29% of Democrats.  

RESETTLING REFUGEES

Credit: KARE 11

The poll found a majority of Minnesota voters would support resettling Afghan refugees in their own communities, with 53% saying they're for it, 32% indicating they're against and 12% undecided.

Some of the strongest support for resettlement was reported in Hennepin/Ramsey County, where 67% of voters said they'd welcome Afghan refugees, 21% said they'd oppose it and 12% are undecided.

The Metro Suburbs and Northern Minnesota reported very similar results for this question. In both regions, 46% of voters said they'd support locally resettling Afghan refugees. Around the metro 36% were opposed and 18% weren't sure, while farther north 37% opposed and 17% were undecided.

In southern Minnesota, 45% of voters support Afghan refugee resettlement, 40% would oppose such a proposal and 15% aren't sure.

Women showed more support for Afghan resettlement (66%) than men (38%). Younger voters also showed more support for the idea. Sixty-three percent of voters ages 18-34 said they'd support it and 25% said they're against it. The oldest voters polled, Minnesotans 65 and older, showed the least amount of support at 47%.

The strongest segment to support Afghan refugee resettlement was Democrats with 82% of voters saying yes and just 7% saying no. Republicans showed the least amount of support for resettlement (19%) while about half of Independents surveyed (51%) said they'd support it.

WHAT PARTICIPANTS SAID

KARE 11's John Croman reached out to a number of poll takers who fell along varying degrees of the political spectrum. We heard back from one Democratic-leaning independent and two self-describing Republicans.

OPINION ON U.S. WITHDRAWAL FROM AFGHANISTAN

"Of course I supported the withdrawal, but not the way we did it. That was a major fiasco...And I think if a Republican president had done that he probably would’ve been impeached. It was awful," said Sally Oden, a self-identifying Bloomington Republican.

"Nobody would’ve had a good chance getting out of there, and I don’t care who you were. God himself couldn’t have done any better. Those people have been killing each other for years," said Democratic-leaning independent Nancy Weisheim of Newport. 

WAS THE EFFORT IN AFGHANISTAN WORTH IT

"That’s a deep question. And I think, generally thinking, it was worth it, and I’ll say it because we have not had a major terrorist attack on United States soil in the last 20 years...And we know for a fact that the genesis of 9/11 2001 was from Afghanistan, so fully in support of that," said Daniel Altwegg, a self-describing Republican, also from Bloomington.

Weisheim said, "We tried to help. We gave it 20 years. And it was a mess. It was a disaster...I lost a brother in Vietnam. We did the same thing over there. We tried to help. We hung in there for the long haul, not long enough for my brother to come home, but still, we tried to help."

RESETTLING REFUGEES

Only the self-described Republicans we spoke with responded to the issue of resettling refugees.

Oden said in part, "I do feel so sorry for them, but I think we have our share here. Time for some of these other cities to take some of these refugees."

Daniel Altwegg took on a different perspective. "I don’t oppose it if they are vetted... My understanding, and I don’t know this is technically true, because I don’t have time to research it, but there are a number of people who get put on those flights to the United States who we don’t really know who they are...and by the same token they need to be tested and or vaccinated."

METHODOLOGY

This poll was conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy, Inc. of Jacksonville, Florida from September 13 through September 15, 2021. A total of 800 registered Minnesota voters were interviewed live by telephone statewide.

Those interviewed were randomly selected from a phone-matched Minnesota voter registration list that included both land-line and cell phone numbers.

Quotas were assigned to reflect voter registration by county.

The margin for error, according to standards customarily used by statisticians, is no more than ± 3.5 percentage points. This means that there is a 95 percent probability that the "true" figure would fall within that range if all voters were surveyed. The margin for error is higher for any subgroup, such as a gender or age grouping.