CNN Poll: Most support no fly zone in Libya but not ground troops
March 21st, 2011
01:02 PM ET
12 years ago

CNN Poll: Most support no fly zone in Libya but not ground troops

Washington (CNN) - Seven in ten Americans support military action by the U.S. and other countries to establish a no-fly zone in Libya, a 14-point increase since last week, according to a new national poll.

But a CNN/Opinon Research Corporation survey also indicates there is less among the public for air strikes that directly target Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's troops who are fighting opposition forces, and only one in four want to send ground forces into the conflict.

The poll was conducted Friday through Sunday, both before and after military action against Libya began on Saturday. But there is no indication in the data that opinions on Libya changed on Saturday or Sunday as a result of the air strikes.

According to the survey, 70 percent support the establishment of a no-fly zone by the U.S. and other countries, up from 56 percent a week ago. Twenty-seven percent oppose the move, down 13 points.

The poll indicates support drops to 54 percent for air strikes not directly related to the no-fly zone that instead target the troops fighting the rebels, with 43 percent opposed to that action.

And most Americans are on the same page as President Barack Obama in opposing putting U.S. ground forces into the conflict. Seven out of ten questioned oppose such a move, with just 28 percent in favor.

The survey indicates a bit of a partisan divide and gender gap over a no-fly zone and attacks on Gadhafi's forces.

"Republicans are somewhat more likely to support the no-fly zone than Independents and Democrats and are significantly more likely to support air strikes unrelated to the no-fly zone," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Men are also more willing to support military action than women - a common pattern in American public opinion."

As for Gadhafi, the number who think it is very important to remove the longtime Libyan leader from power has also increased, from 24 percent last
week to 34 percent now.

"But that's far less than the number who thought it was very important to oust Saddam Hussein from power in the run-up to the Iraq war in 2002. It's also less than the 44 percent who say that it is very important for the U.S. to protect Libyan civilians from Gadhafi's forces, indicating that public support for military action in Libya has more to do with humanitarian concerns than a desire for regime change," adds Holland.

Seven in ten Americans are confident that the U.S. will be successful in protecting civilians from Gadhafi's forces and three-quarters think that Gadhafi will be removed from power. But only 55 percent think the U.S. will be able to accomplish its goals without sending in ground troops.

Half of those questioned approve of how the president is handling the situation in Libya, with 41 percent saying they disapprove, and a relatively high nine percent undecided. Only 27 percent of Republicans approve of how Obama is handling Libya despite the fact that they are more likely than Democrats and Independents to support the military strikes that began on Saturday.

"One reason: only three in ten Republican say they trust Obama as commander in chief, compared to 82 percent of Democrats and 52 percent of independents," says Holland.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey was conducted by telephone, with 1,012 people questioned. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

-CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this story

Filed under: Libya
soundoff (41 Responses)
  1. ConservaFascists/F.U.B.A.R.

    "Republicans are somewhat more likely to support the no-fly zone than Independents and Democrats and are significantly more likely to support air strikes unrelated to the no-fly zone,"

    Of course the warmongerering republicans are going to support anything that has to do with American conquest. I'm glad the President took his time coming to his decision. For all those senators, democrats and republicans alike who were calling for a no fly zone immediately, I'm glad you didn;t get your way. The last thing we need as a nation is for the Arab world looking at the U.S. as invading/occupying another arab nation. It was imperative that there was broad a coalition and that the Arab League was in compliance with U.N. Resolution 1973.

    March 21, 2011 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  2. Point Noted

    Who really benefits from these wars in the middle east? I say let the government step away and the war suppliers and oil companies campaign funds be used directly by them to hire their army and help who ever. Either way the government and the rebels use their weapons to fight each other.

    I hope those are made in the USA by US labor and not outside this country? At least a few gain employment while profits and dow goes up for these.

    March 21, 2011 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  3. DemoCommunists for a Better Way - Bankruptcy

    So do these dimwits that don't support targeting Gaddafi and his troops support enforceing a no-fly zone for 5, 10, 20 years? They would prefer another Saddam Hussein situation where he fires at our planes forever and stays in power to do what he wants to the people of Libya? GET REAL PEOPLE!

    March 21, 2011 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  4. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    The republicans wanted the U.S. to jump right in, and to go it alone, as that worked so well for Bush in Iraq. Instead, President Obama built a coalition. I am so glad that 'That One' McCain, Newt 'The Toady' Gingrich, Sarah 'Mental Giant' Palin, Little Timmy, Hayley "Boss Hogg' Barbour, Flipper Romney, and Michelle Bagger Bachmann, are no where near the white house.

    March 21, 2011 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  5. GOP-Tea Pary IDIOTs

    GOP Republikkklans were in support of attacking Libya but are now changing their tone!

    March 21, 2011 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  6. Random Poster

    I don't think Libya will be as easy as it is being painted in the media. We will end up sending ground troops at some point. I believe it was unwise to get involved in Libya's internal affairs to begin with. Both the Democrats and Republicans are wrong on this one. We cannot, nor should we be, the world's policeman. It has not served us well in the past, and I do not believe it will serve us well in the future.

    March 21, 2011 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  7. Sue

    Of course CNN was going to quickly come up with a poll to show that the majority supports Obama's decision to get involved in Libya-just like good little puppets.--Just last week, they released a poll saying that the majority did NOT want involved in Libya.--However, their fake, biased, manipulated polls will do NOTHING to save Obama in 2012--he is one and done!!–The campaign motto for 2012 is going to be "ANYONE BUT OBAMA"!!

    March 21, 2011 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  8. seriously???

    "Only 27 percent of Republicans approve of how Obama is handling Libya despite the fact that they are more likely than Democrats and Independents to support the military strikes that began on Saturday."– pretty much says it all, doesn't it? Hatred runs deep in these people.

    March 21, 2011 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  9. diridi

    this time, let us put the ground troops of French, Israel, Briton, Germany....shhhhhh....not from American.....o.k...

    March 21, 2011 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  10. German,IrishAmerican

    So Obama, after dithering about and letting Hillary do the groundwork and make the call, is following Palin's advice and backing a no-fly zone. Just think of the lives that could have been saved if we had a real President who would have pushed for a NATO vote three weeks ago instead of golfing and filling out basketball tournament brackets on ESPN and planning another family vacation, this time to Rio. Obama is the most clueless President this country has ever had.

    March 21, 2011 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  11. California Conservative

    Nothing like injecting ourselves into a civil war. OBAMA'S WAR.

    March 21, 2011 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  12. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Gadhafi is not a crazy man as some would like us to believe, he's a dictator but he's not crazy otherwise it wouldn't take military force to shut him down.

    March 21, 2011 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  13. egore

    Even if this President found a cure for cancer, discovered the Fountain of Youth and ushered in a 1000 year pax, the Repubs and their supporters would still maintain that he is the worst President ever. At some point, someone needs to pose the question: "what's up with that (them)"? Just saying.

    March 21, 2011 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  14. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    And most Americans are on the same page as President Barack Obama in opposing putting U.S. ground forces into the conflict.
    Gee, THAT would've been a nice leading headline.

    As a citizen of this country, and as a mother I appreciate the deliberateness with which our Commander-in-Chief made his decision. I applaud the fact that he is acting within UN guidelines, and I am beyond THRILLED that for the first time in decades we are acting in a 'supporting role' versus being the stars of this military engagement.

    I would think that in the midst of our economic woes, and in light of the fact that we're currently engaged on two world stages that most sensible Americans would in fact appreciate the promise of no ground troops from our President. How, after all, would we pay for it. It seems, however, that our President's deliberations, and his taking into account that it is OUR children that would be sent into another military conflict is seen by the Right as a weakness. You've got analpores like McCain, and the Idiot from Wassilla, topped off by Trump the Trickster all blasting off about how we should've taken a stronger and quicker stance. I guess abiding by the UN council and waiting for it's determination is considered "weak" by these wannabe thugs that lack the intellect, compassion, and intestinal fortitude to lead our nation and NOT be led by their own diminished capacities, and overblown egos.

    Way to go Mr. President!
    Obama 2012.

    March 21, 2011 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  15. Steve, New York City

    Here we are again, cluelessly inserting ourselves into another Arab tribal war. What do we even know about the opposition? Who are they? Who are we helping? Our "help" in Afghanistan in the late 70s went to the folks who were the precursors of the Taliban. What about Bahrain – a Sunni monarchy, but a Shia majority. What happens when that situation goes over the edge? Will we bomb them too?

    So long as we're not bombing other white people, then IDIOTS will just see this as a cool video game.

    March 21, 2011 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  16. Constitutionalist_Patriot

    With all that support why hasn't the administration followed the law and asked for congressional approval of these actions? Only congress can declare or authorize war or military action. If the folks in Washington expect me to obey their ever more draconian laws then they need to set an example by following the most importants laws we have in our Constitution. Short of that Washington D.C. will continue to lose legitimacy and authority. Change is coming!

    March 21, 2011 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  17. Brenden

    The Rebels do not have an air force and are being slaughter, the UN bombed there head quarters killing the men who were reasonably for the deaths of the Rebels. The rebels are only seeking equal rights. Were seeing Revolutions all over Northern Africa, most Countries were a dictatorship and the US backed them up. This was because they sold us oil and disliked the Soviet Union, remember the cold war. Russia and the US are still trying to exile the other country in terms of resources, with new leaders in place our economic future depends on the new leaders favoring us over the Soviet Union.

    March 21, 2011 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  18. BILL, WI

    In 1992 the U.S. the UK and France imposed a no-fly zone over the northern and southern areas of Iraq. An illegal act according to the United Nations. And for the next eleven years, Saddam continued to murder as many as 300,000 Iraqis only because they were Shia Muslim or the families of opposition members. And the western countries said it was a civil war and does not concern us, and the Arab League didn't say anything. What happens if this no-fly sanction does not have the results some are wishing for.

    March 21, 2011 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  19. Lost in Texas FOREVER

    nice to know that seems most Americans do support the actions of the POTUS in this matter. Maybe that shos more are switching stations off of right wing talk radio and FoxNews which seem not to support the president no matter what he chooses to do.

    March 21, 2011 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  20. gt

    hell no dont send in troops... plus get our troops home from iraq and afganistan now !!!!!

    March 21, 2011 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  21. Fred Robinson

    Your anchor (Wolf Blitzer) and other commentators are so bias in responding to everything that President Obamas does especially actions taken in Libya. First you say he's too slow in responding with military support of Libyan Civilians then when we act he did not ask Congress for permission. Then he's not answering all of your questions completely. Also, he must have troops on the ground and muist be hideing something. I hope Sarah Palin is elected in 2012 then you will have exactly what you deserve, a great News Story Daily on the Degeneration of a Democratic Society. George W ceratinly did not ask Congress to launch two Wars where were your questions then?

    March 21, 2011 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  22. Worldpeaceful

    The leaders in the world could not say the real word what they want to say. Those mean they scare Gadhafi. They must say the real word and do right thing what they said to their people and the world so people in the world who love democracy and freedom can support and can trust their word. Either way they must be face with International Criminal Court which they have said and what they have not done.

    March 21, 2011 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  23. Donna reed

    I whole-heartedly applaud the no fly zone action supporting the UN resolution, however, for the President to be on any type of family trip during these times of potential nuclear disaster, military intervention in Libya and our own national budget crisis is inappropriate and unacceptable. Times like these demand the undistracted, full attention of our Commander-in-Chief as events are literally unfolding moment by moment.
    This poor judgment is not the kind of world class leadership our nation demands.

    March 21, 2011 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  24. gwenn walden

    I am glad we are supporting the rebels in Libya. I wish we had started sooner and I hope we take Gadhafi out...permanently! I don't care weather it's with a bomb or a trial..he just needs to be gone. I wish Obama would stand up and act like a man and a President. He's too busy hiding behind Hillary Clinton and our allies. His specialty seems to be passing the buck! I'm ashamed of his behavior and I can't wait until the next election to vote him out! His hiding in Brazil seems too similar to Momar's hiding in Lybia!

    March 21, 2011 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  25. jenny

    Rush to put out the polls that supposedly show that people are for this cr ap and didn't just wake up to Bush part 3 – this is a sick joke – the sheeple might buy it but those that are awakening – more and more every day – see this as the evil that it is. Dance you Obama puppet Dance

    March 21, 2011 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
1 2