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Political Ops Split On Troop Increase Consequences

Seven-in-ten Democratic political operatives believe sending additional troops to Afghanistan would be a political minus for President Obama, according to this week's National Journal Political Insiders Poll.

Two Democratic ops quoted said it would hurt Democrats in the midterm elections, whether it is a necessary move or not. "The Democratic base doesn't want to see more troops. And, right now, it looks like we are about to go into a midterm with the Republican base energized while our base has nothing to rally around," said one Democratic political insider.

"He's in a real box here. Expanding the war is probably the right thing to do militarily, but it will be very unpopular and will hurt Democrats in the midterms," said another Democrat.

More than half of Republican insiders, meanwhile, said adding more troops would have a positive political impact for Obama. They say he should ignore the left wing of his party, as fulfilling campaign promises and showing a toughness in the war on terror would ultimately lead to more electoral success.

"If he refrains from taking the advice of the military, he owns the outcome," said a GOP insider. "If he takes the advice of the military, then he is positioned to do whatever he wants at a later date. Stevie Wonder could see what to do here."

For Democratic operatives, 27 percent said it would be a political plus and 70 percent said it would be a minus. Fifty-two percent of Republicans said it was a plus and 42 percent said a minus.