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US Support for Syria Strikes Rates Low in Historical Context

US Support for Syria Strikes Rates Low in Historical Context

Story Highlights

  • 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.

Approval of Syrian Airstrikes at Low End of Historical Measures of Military Actions
2017 question wording: "Next, we have a question about the missile airstrikes the United States has launched against Syria. Do you approve or disapprove of this U.S. military action against Syria?"
Country/Region Polling dates % Approve % Disapprove
Syria 2017 Apr 7-8 50 41
Iraq and Syria 2014 Sep 20-21 60 31
Libya 2011 Mar 21 47 37
Iraq 2003 Mar 20 76 20
Afghanistan 2001 Oct 7 90 5
Kosovo/The Balkans 1999 Apr 30-May 2 51 45
Afghanistan and Sudan 1998 Aug 20 66 19
Haiti 1994 Sep 23-25 54 45
Somalia 1993 Jun 18-21 65 23
Iraq 1993 Jan 13 83 9
Libya 1986 Apr 17-18 71 21
Grenada 1983 Oct 26-27 53 34
Gallup

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.

Republicans Much More Positive Than Democrats
Do you approve or disapprove of this U.S. military action against Syria?
Approve Disapprove
% %
National adults 50 41
Republicans 82 11
Independents 44 43
Democrats 33 61
Gallup, April 7-8, 2017

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.

Historical data are available in Gallup Analytics.

Question Wordings for Data on Approval of Prior U.S. Military Actions
Country/Region, Year Full question wording
Syria, 2017 Next, we have a question about the missile airstrikes the United States has launched against Syria. Do you approve or disapprove of this U.S. military action against Syria?
Iraq and Syria, 2014 Next, we have a question about the military action the United States is taking in Iraq and Syria against militants, commonly known as ISIS. Do you approve or disapprove of this U.S. military action?
Libya, 2011 Next, we have a question about the current military action by the United States and other countries against Libya. Do you approve or disapprove of the current U.S. military actions against Libya?
Iraq, 2003 As you may know, the United States began taking military action against Iraq yesterday. Do you approve or disapprove of the United States' decision to go to war with Iraq?
Afghanistan, 2001 As you may know, the United States and Great Britain launched attacks on at least three cities in Afghanistan today in retaliation for the terrorist attacks that occurred in the U.S. on September 11th. … Do you approve or disapprove of the U.S. taking military action in Afghanistan today?
Kosovo/The Balkans, 1999 Next, we have a few questions about the current military action by the United States and its Western allies in the Yugoslavian regions of Kosovo, Serbia and other areas of the Balkans. Do you approve or disapprove of the current U.S. military involvement in Yugoslavia?
Afghanistan and Sudan, 1998 As you may know, earlier today, the Unites States launched military attacks against terrorist facilities in the countries of Afghanistan and the Sudan. Do you approve or disapprove of those attacks?
Haiti, 1994 Do you approve or disapprove of the presence of the U.S. troops in Haiti?
Somalia, 1993 Last week, the Unites States participated in a military operation with the United Nations against one of the warlords in Somalia. Do you generally approve or disapprove of that decision?
Iraq, 1993 Do you approve or disapprove of the decision today by the United States and its allies to bomb military sites in Iraq in response to Iraq violations of the United Nations resolutions?
Libya, 1986 Do you approve or disapprove of this week's U.S. military action against Libya?
Grenada, 1983 Do you approve or disapprove of the participation of the U.S. military forces -- along with those several Caribbean nations -- in the invasion of Grenada?
Gallup

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted April 7-8, 2017, on the Gallup U.S. Daily survey, with a random sample of 1,015 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 70% cellphone respondents and 30% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.

View survey methodology, complete question responses and trends.

Learn more about how the Gallup U.S. Daily works.


Gallup http://www.gallup.com/poll/208334/support-syria-strikes-rates-low-historical-context.aspx
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