GALLUP NEWS SERVICE
PRINCETON, NJ -- American support for U.S. involvement in the Kosovo situation has dropped to its lowest point since the NATO air attacks began two months ago, and the vast majority of Americans now favor a cease-fire in order to resolve the situation through negotiations. Perhaps partially as a result of the souring mood on Kosovo, President Clinton's job approval rating has fallen to its lowest level since August of 1996.
A new Gallup/CNN/USA Today poll, conducted Sunday and Monday, May 23-24, shows that approval for U.S. participation in the air strikes against Serbia is essentially at a breakeven point -- 49% of Americans approve and 47% disapprove. This is down from the 55% who approved two weeks ago, May 7-9, and marks the lowest level of support since March 25, the day after the strikes began, when support levels were at 50%. Even at that point, however, opposition was at only 39%, with 11% having no opinion. In the current poll, the percentage of those with no opinion is at only 4%.
Confidence in President Clinton's ability to handle the situation in Kosovo has also dropped from late March. At that point, 66% of Americans were very or somewhat confident in his ability to handle the situation. Now, that number has dropped to 57%, with 42% saying they are not confident.
This lack of confidence is no doubt reflected in Clinton's overall job approval number, which, at 53%, is at its lowest level since August of 1996, two years and nine months ago. Clinton's job approval was consistently in the 60% range during 1998, and at two points in late 1998 and in early February of this year, rose to 70% or higher. In recent weeks, however, his job approval rating had been at just 60%, and thus the current 53% reading represents a drop of 7 points in just two weeks. The poll was conducted Sunday and Monday night of this week, and may reflect the fallout not only from the Kosovo situation, but also the continuing revelations concerning the allegations that the Chinese may have stolen American nuclear secrets.
Support for Ground Troops Remains at 40% Level; High
Support for Idea of Temporary Cease-fire
Support for the use of U.S. ground troops along with NATO troops, if the air attacks are not successful, remains at the 40% level, unchanged from a poll conducted three weeks ago, but down from the higher levels of support for ground troops recorded earlier in April.
More generally, Americans -- by a margin of 82% to 15% -- overwhelmingly endorse the idea of a temporary suspension of the air strikes in order to attempt to resolve the matter through negotiations and other diplomatic means. At the same time, it is clear that the U.S. public wants more out of the situation than a total withdrawal without resolution or achievement of NATO aims. Only 25% say they would approve if the U.S. and NATO were to permanently end all military action, and make "no further effort to help the refugees return to Kosovo."
On other matters relating to Kosovo:
- The public overwhelmingly feels that an armed peacekeeping
force will be necessary at some point in order to secure the safety
of the Kosovar people
- The U.S. public is split right down the middle in terms of the casualties that are resulting from the bombing. Forty-eight percent say they believe the U.S. and NATO are doing everything possible to prevent civilian casualties, but 46% say that more could be done.
The results are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of 1,050 adults, 18 years and older, conducted May 23-24, 1999. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95 percent confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is plus or minus 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.
As you may know, the military alliance of Western countries called NATO, has launched air and missile attacks against Serbian military targets in Yugoslavia. Do you favor or oppose the United States being a part of that military action?
|99 May 23-24||49%||47%||4%|
|99 May 7-9||55||38||7|
|99 Apr 30-May 2*||58||36||6|
|99 Apr 26-27||56||40||4|
|99 Apr 21||51||39||10|
|99 Apr 13-14||61||35||4|
|99 Apr 6-7||58||36||6|
|99 Mar 30-31||53||41||6|
|99 Mar 25||50||39||11|
|99 Mar 19-21^||46||43||11|
|99 Feb 19-21^||43||45||12|
|98 Oct 9-12**||42||41||17|
* Based on half sample
^ Question Wording: "If a peace agreement is not reached between the Yugoslavian Serbs and Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority, NATO has said it would carry out air and missile attacks against Serb military installations. Would you favor or oppose the U.S. being a part of that military action?"
** Question Wording: "Based on what you have read or heard, do you think the United States and its Western European allies should or should not conduct military air strikes against the Serbian forces in Kosovo?"
How confident are you in President Clinton's ability to handle the situation in Kosovo -- very confident, somewhat confident, not too confident, or not at all confident?
|Not at all
|99 May 23-24||17%||40%||17%||25%||1%|
|99 Mar 30-31||27||39||20||13||1|
|95 Nov 27||21||42||19||15||3|
|95 Jun 5-6||13||38||28||18||3|
As you may know, the NATO countries participating in the attack on Yugoslavia have a number of options right now. For each of the following possible options, please say whether you would approve or disapprove if the United States and NATO decided to take that course of action today. First, ... . How about, ... ? [FORM A: READ A-C, FORM B: READ C-A]
A. If the U.S. and NATO were to send in ground troops to serve in a combat situation
B. If the U.S. and NATO were to temporarily suspend the air strikes and attempt to resolve the matter through negotiations and other means
C. If the U.S. and NATO were to permanently end all military action, and make no further effort to help the refugees return to Kosovo
Thinking about the U.S. and NATO military action against Yugoslavia, would you say -- [ROTATE 1-2: 1) The U.S. and NATO are doing everything possible to conduct the air strikes in a way that minimizes the number of civilian casualties (or) 2) The U.S. and NATO could do more to minimize the number of civilian casualties being caused by the air strikes (or)]?
|The U.S. and NATO are doing everything possible to conduct the air strikes in a way that minimizes the number of civilian casualties (or)||48%|
|The U.S. and NATO could do more to minimize the number of civilian casualties being caused by the air strikes (or)||46|