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What Voters in a California Swing District Say About Afghanistan

At a time of deep partisan division, in a Southern California congressional district where Democrats narrowly outnumber Republicans, voters interviewed over the weekend were largely united on at least one issue: After a two-decade war, President Biden was right to pull American troops out of Afghanistan.

The bombing at the Kabul airport had done little to change their minds, the killing of 13 soldiers leaving them more numbed than saddened. Many said they were simply too overwhelmed to pay close attention to another overseas crisis. “We have a lot of mending here to do,” said Ms. Ortiz, who considers herself a political moderate and voted for Mr. Biden.

Amid a still-raging pandemic and a still-recovering economy, this was a time to be focused on problems at home rather than abroad, more than a dozen Republican, Democratic and independent voters said in conversations in and around Hacienda Heights, a community of 55,000 people about 20 miles east of downtown Los Angeles where first- and second-generation immigrants fill the subdivisions and strip malls.

Afghanistan could be ignored, they said, but the possibility of their too-young-to-be-vaccinated children getting sick could not. Leaders in Washington might worry about the threat of terrorism or America’s standing with allies, but voters in Hacienda Heights said they were far more concerned about issues affecting them directly: Covid-19, homelessness and climate change, to name a few.

They also seemed hesitant to hold Mr. Biden accountable for last week’s attacks, at least for now.

“When you have no good choice, you still have to pick one,” said Patrick Huang, a 65-year-old independent who has voted for both Republicans and Democrats. “They had plenty of time to prepare to get everybody out, and they totally messed it up. But I don’t blame President Biden for everything. This came after many, many presidents made mistakes.”

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