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Snapshot: Half of Americans Approve of Strikes on Syria

Snapshot: Half of Americans Approve of Strikes on Syria
by RJ Reinhart

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Americans are sharply divided over the recent U.S. military airstrikes in Syria, with half approving, 43% disapproving and 7% having no opinion. Public support for the latest airstrikes essentially matches responses to similar actions against Syria a year ago and several other U.S. military interventions, historically.

Half of Americans Support Latest Military Action in Syria
2018 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 2018 Apr 16-22 50 43
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

Background: On April 14, U.S. military forces, in conjunction with those of the United Kingdom and France, conducted a series of missile strikes on three chemical weapons sites within Syria. The strikes were conducted in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack on the rebel-held town of Douma, Syria, by government forces on April 7. The missile strikes were designed to degrade Syrian President Bashar Assad's ability to conduct such attacks in the future.

This is the second time President Donald Trump has ordered missile strikes in Syria in response to a chemical weapons attack by that country's government. The first strikes, conducted April 6 of last year, targeted an air base where the chemical weapons attack was staged. The 2017 strikes were also supported by half of Americans.

U.S. approval for strikes is low, but in line with recent similar actions: Americans' level of approval for the April 2018 strikes on Syria is relatively low compared with support for some previous actions, such as the war in Afghanistan in 2001, which garnered 90% approval. However, compared with similar small-scale military actions, support is typical. The missile strikes on Syria in 2017 drew support from half of Americans, while the 2011 airstrikes on targets in Libya drew a roughly equivalent level of approval, 47%.

Republicans continue to voice higher levels of approval for strikes: Similar to last year, eight in 10 Republicans say they approve of the most recent strikes on Syria, compared with less than half as many Democrats (36%) and 45% of independents. The 2017 missile strikes were supported by 82% of Republicans, 33% of Democrats and 44% of independents.

Republicans' Support for Syria Strikes Much Higher Than Democrats'
Do you approve or disapprove of this U.S. military action against Syria?
Approve Disapprove
% %
National adults 50 43
Republicans 80 13
Independents 45 47
Democrats 36 60
Gallup, April 16-22, 2018

Given the political polarization seen today on many issues, the continued partisan gaps in approval of the strikes are not surprising. Although the wording of Gallup's question did not mention Trump's role in authorizing the latest airstrikes, his involvement likely is understood, thus contributing to the partisan split in views.

A full listing of the wording of previous questions on approval of U.S. military actions is included at the end of this article.

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Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted April 16-22, 2018, with a random sample of 1,511 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 ±3 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.

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

Question Wording for Data on Approval of Prior U.S. Military Actions
Country/Region, Year Full question wording
Syria, 2018 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?
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 United 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 United 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 Iraqi 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 of several Caribbean nations -- in the invasion of Grenada?
Gallup

Gallup


Gallup https://news.gallup.com/poll/232997/snapshot-half-americans-approve-strikes-syria.aspx
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