More Optimism about Afghanistan, But No Boost in Support for Troop Presence
The killing of Osama bin Laden has bolstered confidence that the government can prevent a possible terrorist attack, and that the U.S. will achieve its goals in Afghanistan. But an overnight Pew Research/Washington Post poll finds the public remains divided about keeping U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
Civil War at 150: Still Relevant, Still Divisive
A century and a half after the firing on Fort Sumter, most Americans say the war between the North and South is still relevant to American politics and public life today. In a nation that has long endured deep racial divisions, the history of that era continues to elicit strong reactions. Nearly half of the public (46%) says it is inappropriate for today’s public officials to praise the leaders of the Confederate states during the war; 36% say such statements are appropriate.
Fewer See Clear Goal in Libya; Opposition to Arming Rebels
While half say the U.S. made the right decision in conducting airstrikes in Libya, fewer see a clear goal than did so last week. Americans believe preventing terrorism and keeping oil prices low should be important goals of the U.S. in the Middle East, but there is less consensus on encouraging democracy and protecting Israel.
Modest Support for Libya Airstrikes, No Clear Goal Seen
Nearly half of Americans say the U.S. made the right decision in conducting air strikes in Libya, while 36% say it was the wrong decision. On balance, however, the public does not think that the U.S. and its allies have a clear goal in taking military action and most see a lengthy involvement in Libya.
Public Wary of Military Intervention in Libya
By a wide margin, Americans say the United States does not have a responsibility to do something about the fighting between government forces and anti-government groups in Libya. Divided support for a no-fly zone is undercut by overwhelming opposition to bombing Libyan military air defenses.
Mixed Views on Tax Cuts, Support for START and Allowing Gays to Serve Openly
With the public giving subpar approval ratings to President Obama and continuing to express negative views of Congress and the political parties, it goes its own way on many of the remaining issues before the lame-duck Congress.
Religious Beliefs and Political Issues
Religious beliefs continue to be influential in shaping some Americans’ views about social issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage. Far fewer cite religion as a top influence on issues such as immigration, the environment and poverty.
Public’s Economic Woes Persist
Americans don’t favor the current health care reform legislation, but most opponents prefer a new bill to no bill and more see their health care costs rising without reform than with it. Nearly everyone gives the national economy a negative rating; 70% of Americans say they have faced one or more job or financial-related problems in the past year
U.S. Seen as Less Important, China as More Powerful
A new survey of both the public and members of the Council on Foreign Relations finds an increasingly isolationist sentiment among Americans. The public also differs with CFR members on increasing troop levels in Afghanistan, the threat posed by China and the use of torture.
Polling Wars: Hawks vs. Doves
The contrast between attitudes toward military involvement in Afghanistan and Iran fits into a temporal pattern. Americans generally like their wars to be successful or short — and ideally both.