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Eight of 10 Americans Support Ground War in Afghanistan

by David W. Moore

One in five is opposed; another one in five can be considered "reluctant warriors"

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- The latest Gallup poll shows that Americans favor the use of ground troops in Afghanistan by more than a four-to-one margin, 80% to 18%. However, the poll also shows that there are differences in shades of support, with about one-fifth of Americans who can be classified as "hawks," one-fifth as "reluctant warriors," and two-fifths as "willing supporters," in addition to the one-fifth who are "doves."

The poll was conducted Oct. 19-21 and asked respondents if they favored or opposed the use of ground troops in Afghanistan, one of the key strategies frequently enunciated by President George W. Bush and the country's military leaders. By a margin of 80% to 18%, Americans expressed support, while 2% were undecided. Among the supporters, however, more than a quarter -- or 22% among all adults -- can be classified as "reluctant warriors." These are supporters of the war who said they would not have supported military action in Afghanistan had the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks not occurred, and in general they feel that military forces should be used only as a last resort.

Another 22% of respondents can be classified as "hawks" on the war -- people who favor the use of ground troops, and also indicate that they would have supported military action in Afghanistan even if the terrorist attacks had not occurred. They also say that in general the United States should use military action as readily as diplomatic and economic pressure in its pursuit of foreign policy goals.

Almost one-half of the supporters, or 39% of all Americans, can be considered "willing supporters," people who support the war but do not necessarily fit either classification as a "hawk" or "reluctant warrior." And, finally, there are the "doves" -- the 18% who oppose the ground war altogether.

Hawks and Doves Vary by Gender, Age, Partisan Orientation, Education, and Region

An analysis of the classification of respondents shows major differences in the proportion of hawks and doves by several demographic subgroups. The table is shown below:

Doves -- Oppose Ground Troops

(%)

Reluctant Warriors

(%)

Willing Supporters

(%)

 

Hawks

(%)

Overall

18

22

39

22

Gender

Male

Female

 

11

24

 

24

20

 

39

39

 

26

17

Party

Republican

Independent

Democrat

 

8

19

25

 

23

19

24

 

38

40

37

 

31

21

14

Political Philosophy

Liberal

Moderate

Conservative

 

27

19

11

 

27

20

22

 

32

41

39

 

14

20

28

Region

East

Midwest

South

West

 

19

20

16

15

 

27

22

15

28

 

33

41

42

37

 

21

17

27

20

Age

18-29

30-49

50-64

65+

 

23

15

10

27

 

22

22

24

19

 

40

37

39

40

 

15

26

27

14

Education

High school or less

Some college

College graduate

Post-graduate

 

26

19

15

14

 

7

15

26

32

 

55

39

34

37

 

12

27

25

17

The major differences are:

  • Men are more likely than women to be hawks (26% vs. 17%), while women are twice as likely as men to be doves (24% vs. 11%).
  • Republicans are more likely than Democrats to be hawks (31% vs. 14%), while Democrats are more likely to be doves (25% vs. 8%). Independents fall in the middle between the two party groups.
  • Similarly, conservatives are more likely than liberals to be hawks (28% vs. 14%), while liberals are more likely than conservatives to be doves (27% vs. 11%). Moderates fall in the middle between the two groups.
  • The South has the highest number of hawks (27%), while the other areas of the country are fairly similar in that measure. The South has the least number of "reluctant warriors," while the East and the West have the most.
  • Middle-aged Americans are least likely to be doves and most likely to be hawks, while the youngest and oldest groups are more likely to be doves than hawks.
  • People with a high school education or less and those with post-graduate education are least likely to be hawks. Those with a high school education are most likely to be doves, while the highest number of "reluctant warriors" is found among those with a post-graduate education.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,006 adults nationwide, aged 18+, conducted Oct. 19-21, 2001. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.


Gallup http://www.gallup.com/poll/5029/eight-americans-support-ground-war-afghanistan.aspx
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