Polls: Americans approve of military action in Libya
Libyans gather around the wreckage of a US F-15 fighter jet in Ghot Sultan, South-East of Benghazi
March 23rd, 2011
11:34 AM ET
3 years ago

Polls: Americans approve of military action in Libya

Washington (CNN) - A new Gallup poll indicates that a plurality of Americans approve of military action against Libya. Forty-seven percent say that they approve of the current U.S. military actions in Libya, with 37 percent saying they disapprove, according to the survey, which was released Wednesday.

The poll questioned respondents after the U.S. joined other countries in enforcing a United Nations-approved no-fly zone over Libya, where longtime strongman Moammar Gadhafi is engaged in attacks against groups trying to topple his government.

And on the issue of Libya, the poll reflects that Democrats and Republicans agree; slim majorities of each political party approve of U.S. military action against Libya. Slightly over half of Democrats-51 percent– approve of action in Libya and 57 percent of Republicans feel the same. Most independents do not look favorably upon military action against Libya since 38 percent approve and 44 percent disapprove, the poll finds.

But a two polls reflect different results than the Gallup survey shows. A CNN/Opinion Research poll released Monday reveals that a larger majority of Americans, 7 in 10, favor establishing a no-fly zone in Libya that is enforced by military planes from the U.S. and other countries. The poll was conducted March 18-20 during the same timeframe that military action began. About half the respondents were questioned before military action began in Libya and there's no indication that opinions changed as a result of air strikes that occurred in Libya during that weekend. By the same percentage, 70 percent of Americans also disapprove of sending ground troops from the U.S. to the conflict and 28 percent of those asked approve.

The poll also indicates that more Republicans than Democrats support for a no-fly zone over Libya 77 to 64 percent, but 7 in 10 independents who were surveyed support this military action, by a larger percentage than Democrats.

CBS News released findings similar to the poll released by CNN/Opinion Research. Respondents questioned after air and cruise missile strikes began in Libya said they approved of military action by 68 percent. Over a quarter disapproved of air strikes in Libya by the U.S. and other countries.

Three quarters of Americans said the air strikes would be effective in protecting Libyan civilians, with 20 percent of those saying they'd be very effective and 54 percent showing more caution and saying air strikes will be somewhat effective. Eighteen percent say they will either not be very effective, or not be effective at all.

CBS News released findings similar to the poll released by CNN/Opinion Research. Respondents questioned after air and cruise missile strikes began in Libya said they approved of military action by 68 percent. Over a quarter disapproved of air strikes in Libya by the U.S. and other countries.

Three quarters of Americans said the air strikes would be effective in protecting Libyan civilians, with 20 percent of those saying they'd be very effective and 54 percent showing more caution and saying air strikes will be somewhat effective. Eighteen percent say they will either not be very effective, or not be effective at all.

The Gallup poll was conducted among 1,010 adults via telephone on March 21. It has a sampling error of plus-or-minus four percentage points.

The CNN/Opinion Research poll questioned 1,012 adults from March 18-20 via telephone. It has a sampling error of plus-or-minus three percentage points.

The CBS News poll was conducted among 1,022 adults via telephone from March 20-21. It has a sampling error of plus-or-minus three percentage points.


Filed under: CNN poll • Libya • Poll
soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. Video Guy

    Now GOP, it is time to support your country and your President.

    March 23, 2011 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  2. Name king

    Most Americans are human beings and when they know they have to watch atrocities taking place, their human instances kicks in, and they don't want to live the rest of their lives knowing they and their government could have made amdifference, and didn't because of politics. Every one like to live their lives conscience free of atrocities.

    March 23, 2011 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  3. ConservaFascists/F.U.B.A.R.

    Americans approve of the action but Congress is acting like a bunch of wussies. The action that we're taking in Libya is NOT a declaration of war.

    March 23, 2011 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  4. Bill from GA

    Watching the news, it is obvious the repugs don't approve. Problem is, they can't agree if Pres. Obama shouldn't have gotten involved, waited to late, should have asked Congress first, or shouldn't have let UN have a say. If any of them can find another way to discredit our President on the matter, we'll hear it.

    Whatever Obama does, it's wrong. They just can't agree on how or why.

    Oh yeah, and how dare the liberals agree to this 'invasion' when they disapproved of w's wars. They're exactly the same.

    March 23, 2011 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  5. Rick McDaniel

    This country has always been too quick in taking up for the downtrodden, even those halfway around the world.

    It should have been the Arab League, taking on this responsibility, to police their own region. Their failure to do so, is most unacceptable, and precisely why I tally my vote, in the "against" category.

    March 23, 2011 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  6. diridi

    every one approves, who has head on shoulder, except GOP thugs, and idiots.....o.k. Criticizing is a fashion...that's it...Obama is 100 percent right.....what do you do, when monster strikes and kills civilians......?????

    March 23, 2011 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  7. key

    really, really. wow, we just want to be broke

    March 23, 2011 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  8. janedoe

    Congress already has enough on their hands. Democrats get it together. Get a handle on the things around you that you should be controlling. I think everyone has lost sight of their positions. Congress can't agree to allow humanitarian help in the U.S.. Why waste time with rhetoric from them. Hopefully they will see that Obama is trying to take care of business also allowing them to handle theirs. And they can't even get that done correctly. Explain to Obama and the world your problems. Where are the jobs Boehner and every Democrat that question Obamas action but has failed their own districts and cities???????????????????????????????

    March 23, 2011 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  9. vic nashville tn

    I hope Fox news get this poll. past 4days many questions raised by republicans where were these questions 8 years back

    March 23, 2011 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  10. Linton

    Americans have never met a war they didn't like.....until the reality of paying for the war sets in. How ridiculous that Americans decided the gov't is spending too much money – they don't want to increase taxes for helping poor children get helath care. But if they are given a proposal that means killing innocnent children and increasing their taxes exponentially – they're all for it!

    March 23, 2011 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  11. gt

    i am sure the 47% dont have a son or daughter in the service either...

    March 23, 2011 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  12. Constitution believer

    I'm not a big fan of carnage. But it seems to me that if you go to war (1) to stop a despot using his military to kill civilians, and (2) as part of a police force called upon by the United Nations to enforce international law (a global democratic body enforcing democratically written laws to represent the will of the majority of humans) - that would be exactly the kind of war that is justified.

    On the other hand, attacking countries on false pretenses in order to maintain our own illegitimate power over resources - now that would be a whole other thing. Hard to justify killing people for that.

    March 23, 2011 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  13. geecee

    If President Obama had not allowed the US to participate in the UN Resolution to implement a No Fly Zone to help out the Libyan resistance and Quadaffi had killed these people, Obama would have been slammed up, down and sideways by BOTH Liberals and Conservatives. Guess there is no way Obama can please the right or left. They just hate him and will continue to disagree with everything and anything he does. If he said the sky was blue, they'd have to argue, "NO, it's red -he lies, dithers, he's incompetent, he's a fool, he's a clown, he's an empty suit, he's un-American, he's unqualifed, he's an idiot, he's moron, etc. etc. Is this just "get-you-back" stuff from the Republicans for all the anger the Democrats threw at Bush for the two wars and near bankruptcy that he got us into? Seems like it, since they have no real foundation for all the hate and bigotry they throw at Obama on an hourly basis. 24/7.

    March 23, 2011 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  14. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    What a difference a week makes. Not long ago, the idiots from the GOP wanted the president to establish a 'no fly zone,' but did not want to commit ground troops. (Except John McCain and Joe Lieberman who wanted us to invade Libya on day one) The President built a coalition, established a 'no fly zone' and has promised to allow the French and English to take on a greater responsibility. Now Fox is telling the baggers that we should not be involved, and they no longer approve of what they approved.

    March 23, 2011 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  15. Rickster

    More people might approve if Obama gave any indication whatsoever that he knew what he was doing. He is all over the place on this situation and says something different every day(as does his cabinet members). But this is what you get when you elect an amateur community organizer into office.

    March 23, 2011 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  16. Sniffit

    " They're exactly the same."

    Yep, Iraq's populace had risen up, Saddam was actively using the military to literally level cities and kill thousands of people and Obama lied about WMDs, then put thousands of our troops on the ground after massive bombing of heavily populated areas...and didn't bother waiting for UN, NATO, Arab League support or supoprt for foreign allies. Yep. Exactly the same.

    March 23, 2011 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  17. Lindsey Brutus

    Libya is having a civil war. We did not intervene in Sudan when thousands of Christians were being slaughtered in their civil war so why are we getting involved in Libya? Weren't the Sudanese Christians more deserving of our help than these rebel Libyans? I thank God that the Sudanese Christians have their own country now! If the rebels want their own country they can do it without us!

    March 23, 2011 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  18. Veteran

    Who are we helping??? to late to get started and no exit plan

    March 23, 2011 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  19. JustMe

    There are several reasons to be for this, but apart from all of that and what Gadhafi has done to his people there is also the fact that he was responsible for the death of 270 innocent people (189 of whom were Americans) on December 21st, 1988 (Pan Am 103).

    March 23, 2011 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  20. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    I think it is time for the "Treasonous Ten" republican presidential candidates step up and support America for once.

    March 23, 2011 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  21. John

    Being President of the U.S. sucks! You can never win! Move 'thoughtfully, seeking global buy-in... and McCain says he moved "too slowly!" Others say he moved "too quickly!" In the mean time... Libyan civilians are being butchered! Obama's got to move forward... doing what he believes we elected him to do...LEAD!!! Next time around... elect somebody else if you like!

    March 23, 2011 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  22. once upon a horse

    the far right two weeks ago... OBAMA IS A WEAK LEADER DOING NOTHING some even said he was a MUSLIM SYMPATHIZER. The far right last week......OBAMA IS A WARMONGER GOD HELP US ALL!!
    I think those of us with common sense that don't follow FoxNews (human shields for God's sake) or rightwing talk radio know that it's coming up to election time and the GOP can't support Obama on anything no matter what. We see it for what it is.

    March 23, 2011 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  23. DemoCommunists for a Better Way - Bankruptcy

    So we're engaging our military, endangering their lives and spending millions and they say the outcome will still have Khaddafi in power??? What buffoon is running this country?? Oh yeah... Obozo. And the beat goes on.... Clueless and inexperienced when he was elected, and hasn't changed one bit in two years.

    March 23, 2011 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  24. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    The GOP are still following the Bush/Cheney doctorines, shoot first and ask questions later, I mean 10 years later. I never ever want to see another Republican president in the WH and I hope we get rid of those yoyo's in Congress along with all our Nations Republican governors, they are a disgrace and dishonor to the American people.

    March 23, 2011 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  25. GOP-Tea Party IDIOTs

    When is the GOP-Tea Party going to stand by their belief that it is unconstitutional to critize a president during a time of war?!

    I guess NOT!

    These GOP Idiots always boast about supporting our troops in a ttime of war!

    NOT THIS TIME...because President Obama is leading the effort; so now the GOP is siding with a tyrant cum terrorist dictator Moamer Gaddafi who have murdered Americans and is killing his own people!!!!

    March 23, 2011 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
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