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Hullabaloo


Monday, April 10, 2017

 
Polling on Syria

by digby

The pundits all seem to think Trump performed some fantastic act of leadership by ordering an airstrike. The public isn't quite as impressed:
  • 10 other military actions assessed since 1983 had majority support
  • Only action with lower approval was Libya in 2011, at 47%
  • 82% of Republicans approve, compared with 33% of Democrats
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Americans' support for the military strikes against Syria last week is historically low compared with reactions to previous U.S. military actions. Fifty percent of Americans approve of the missile airstrikes, while 41% disapprove. Ten percent have no opinion.


Gallup has measured Americans' reactions to 11 other military interventions before the latest airstrikes in Syria, stretching from the invasion of Grenada in 1983 through the military action against Islamic militants in Iraq and Syria in 2014. The complete question wording used in each assessment appears at the end of this article.

A majority of Americans approved of all of the previous actions tested with one exception: 47% approved of the bombing of Libya in 2011 (37% disapproved). Americans were most supportive of the initial intervention in Afghanistan in October 2001, in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the U.S., and were also initially very supportive of interventions in Iraq in 1993 and 2003.

The 50% approval of the recent missile strikes against Syria is roughly similar to three other actions tested over the years with approval around the 50% level -- Libya in 2011 (47%), Kosovo and the Balkans in 1999 (51%), and Grenada in 1983 (53%).

Over Eight in 10 Republicans Approve

Reactions to the missile strikes President Donald Trump ordered are much more positive among Republicans (82%) than among Democrats (33%) nationwide.


This type of divided partisan views to military action is not always the case. The last two military interventions Gallup tested -- Libya in 2011 and Iraq and Syria in 2014 -- were initiated by Democratic President Barack Obama and showed little partisan difference. Reactions to strikes against Libya were about the same as the current reactions to the Syrian strikes, and showed a modest six-point Republican-Democratic gap (57% and 51% approval, respectively). Independents were much less positive about Libya. Republicans and Democrats were equally positive about U.S. military intervention against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria in 2014.

Implications

Americans' initial reaction to the missile airstrikes the U.S. launched against Syria last week is among the least positive of the 12 military actions Gallup has measured since 1983. Support does exceed opposition, which has been the case for each of the military actions tested, but the 50% approval is lower than all but one of the other interventions.

The strikes do not appear to have affected Americans' views of Trump -- at least in the short term. His job approval averaged 40% Tuesday through Thursday before the strikes, and has averaged 40% Friday through Sunday after the strikes.


This is important because if this action really elevated his approval rating it would tell him that it's a "winning" tactic. He is almost certainly telling himself that it is anyway but at some point reality does intrude. His advisers will see it too and recognize that it's risky business for him and will be more cautious than they otherwise might be.

Public opinion is very important in this polarized environment. It's one of the only leverage points the opposition has --- there's almost no institutional power at all. It's vital that the public stays informed, engaged and opposed to normalizing Trump.


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