Politics

Four in Five Americans View Syria Unfavorably

Four in Five Americans View Syria Unfavorably
by Justin McCarthy

Story Highlights

  • Highest unfavorable rating for Syria in Gallup's trend
  • Americans divided on best course for U.S. military in Syria
  • Republicans most likely to say more involvement needed

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Syria's negative image in the U.S. increased over the past year to the point that four in five Americans now say they have an unfavorable view of the country, up from 74% a year ago. Syria now has the second-worst image of 21 countries rated in a new Gallup poll, with only North Korea rated worse.

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Over the 25 years Gallup has asked Americans about Syria, the country's image has never been very positive. No more than 25% have ever viewed the nation favorably, and that has now dwindled to 12%. The percentage viewing it unfavorably has almost doubled since 2000 -- first jumping to 60% in 2005 as U.S.-Syrian tensions were escalating over Syria's role in supporting regional terrorism. Its negative rating crossed the 70% threshold in 2012 as a popular uprising in Syria was mounting, and it has since remained high through the five-year civil war. Meanwhile, the percentage with no opinion of Syria has declined from 36% in 2000 to 8% today.

The current data, from Gallup's Feb. 3-7 World Affairs poll, comes as a ceasefire in the Syrian civil war appears less and less likely to occur. Although several world powers convened last week to agree on a "cessation of hostilities" and the delivery of aid to Syria, the country's president has expressed doubt such a truce is feasible.

As they watch the unfolding news from Damascus, Americans of all political stripes view Syria negatively, but Republicans have the worst views. Nine in 10 Republicans have an unfavorable view of the country, compared with about three in four independents and Democrats, respectively.

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Gallup has also found that a majority (58%) of Americans view the conflict in Syria as a critical threat to the vital interests of the U.S.

Americans Divided on U.S. Military's Approach in Syria

A separate question asked Americans about U.S. military involvement in the country. The results show that Americans are about as likely to say the U.S. military should get more involved in Syria (34%) as they are to say the current involvement is about right (29%) or that it should be less involved (30%).

Independents and Democrats are fairly split over whether the U.S. military should maintain, step up or scale back its involvement. But Republicans lean heavily toward increasing it (49%).

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Bottom Line

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has used chemical weapons against his own people, maintains close ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin and keeps his grip on a country that has rebelled against him for several years. Now with conflict creating an international refugee crisis, it's not surprising that Americans' views of the country are at a low ebb.

At the same time, the American public -- perhaps reflecting the lack of consensus seen among the 2016 presidential candidates on the issue -- is divided over how deeply the U.S. military should be involved. Republican candidates have repeatedly focused on the need for more extensive U.S. efforts in the region. Rank-and-file Republicans across the country are much more likely to favor more involvement than independents or Democrats, but there is hardly any agreement on the matter. Half of Republicans say that current involvement is about right or that the U.S. should be less involved.

Historical data are available in Gallup Analytics.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Feb. 3-7, 2016, on the Gallup U.S. Daily survey, with a random sample of 1,021 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.

Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 60% cellphone respondents and 40% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.

View complete question responses and trends.

Learn more about how Gallup Poll Social Series works.

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