Leon Panetta recently said that the US would be open to leaving troops in Iraq after this year. Given the increased levels for violence against our troops this past month, would Obama face any political fallout by choosing to not withdraw our forces?I think the question gets it right. If US casualties are at the level that they were at for the last months of 2010 -- five deaths, three of them classified as combat deaths, over three months -- then I think the administration could keep a relatively small number of troops there indefinitely without any serious political cost. A few disgruntled liberals would be seriously unhappy, but almost everyone else would forget all about it. I'm sure if you asked liberals, they would be opposed, but the odds that very many of them would actively care about it would be small.
However, at 10-20 dead a month, that's a lot harder to sustain.
Or, to put it another way: at least in my view, what matters as far as domestic politics is concerned are entirely the casualties, not the troop numbers or the policy, or even the results.