Americans split on Libyan involvement
March 28th, 2011
05:34 PM ET
10 years ago

Americans split on Libyan involvement

Washington (CNN) - Americans remain divided over support for the military operation in Libya, according to a new poll.

In the Pew Research Center survey released Monday, 47 percent of those surveyed think airstrikes were the right decision, 36 percent think they were the wrong decision and 17 percent did not know.

The division remains when broken down by political party. Fifty-four percent of Republicans, 49 percent of Democrats and 44 percent of independents said the airstrikes were the right decision.

When asked if the United States and its allies have a clear goal for the military action in the African country, 50 percent said no, 39 percent said yes and 11 percent did not know. Forty-one percent of Republicans, 48 percent of Democrats and 35 percent of independents said the troops have a clear goal.

Sixty percent of those surveyed said military involvement will last for some time compared with 33 percent who said action will end quickly and seven percent who did not know.

President Barack Obama plans to address the military mission in Libya at 7:30 p.m. ET Monday following a U.N. mandate for the U.S. and allied forces to enforce a no-fly zone and arms embargo in the country while taking other necessary steps to protect Libyan civilians.

Although the resolution did not include removing Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi from power, 46 percent of those surveyed said the U.S. and its allies should oust him while 43 percent said the action should focus on protecting the country's citizens and 11 percent did not know.

The poll of 1,002 adults was conducted between March 24 and March 27 with a sampling error of plus or minus four percentage points for non-political questions and plus or minus seven percentage points for figures broken down by political party.

Filed under: Libya • Polls • President Obama
soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    The U.S. cannot continue to speak with a "fork tongue" spreading democracy and freedom for people around the World and then stand back and do nothing.

    March 28, 2011 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  2. LegendRx

    CNN . . . Exploits and instigators. Bringing with them the big spoon to stir the pot of conflict. Sad affair ; (

    March 28, 2011 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  3. MAC

    I am split. I support my fellow Armed Forces members in their service but, I wonder if the President and Congress, especially the Post Viet Nam Liberals will let them do their duty and WIN?

    March 28, 2011 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  4. gt

    all those who want to fight go or send one of your own family....

    March 28, 2011 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  5. Marge

    Yeah man, any way Obama decides to go along that path the tea bags and republicans go the other. No matter if they have been preaching to go that way all along. ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS LISTEN TO NEWT AND YOU SEE WHAT THEY DO.

    March 28, 2011 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  6. T'sah from Virginia

    Americans split on Libyan involvement
    What and you thought – it would be different
    Separate the MIDDLE and you're left with the RIGHT
    Leave in the LEFT and you'll still have a FIGHT!!

    That is what Americans are made of!!!

    CNN is always saying something is SPLIT!!! If you take all of the questions above and examine them, it's SPLIT because of the way the questions were asked!!! Jeez!

    March 28, 2011 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  7. Zack

    We are just fighting for the next terrorist group that will take over for the current terrorist. Gadhafi is a murderer and a thug but I guarantee you there will be just another radical put in place. Look what happend with the Mujahideen we helped all those years in Afghanistan and for that favor they turned on us and Osama bin laden came out of those loons. If it is humanitarian why did we not get involved in all the genocide that has occured in Rwanda or Ethiopia. We need to stay out all this as we are not wealthy or morally superior enough to be the worlds policeman. On top of that we have a weak President who really is for abdicatiing out roll to the UN or and other so let them do it and lets focus domestically.

    March 28, 2011 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  8. once upon a Horse

    count me in that 17% because until I know what the mission is I really can't say. I can say this though I am not one of these people that flip/flopped on the president being critical that he wasn't getting involved at first and then being critical because he did. It seems like some on the right that were critical 2 weeks ago are now silent in their support of the move..except for Newt of course who basically says he can't support the POTUS no matter what he does.

    March 28, 2011 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  9. Charlie in Maine

    Dear President Obama,

    The ultra liberals never want to admit that the Pentagon can be useful. And of course the ultra conservatives never want to admit that you are doing a good job on anything. So the divide on this one is not right down the middle where it is sometimes. Your support on thisis directly from the middle and frankly I could not be more proud and impressed by your team on this issue.

    March 28, 2011 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  10. Padraig

    There are so many things that are wrong about this

    One question that I am not aware of that has been answered is – who are the rebels? Are they pro-democracy? Islamic Brotherhood? Al-Queda? No one seems to have answered this question.

    There is no set plan or communication from the President or his staff. Gates stated on TV that we are winging it. That is very nice to know that people who have been elected and serving the entire nation has such little grasp of what is going on.

    The President says that we must stop barbaric atrocities and we do that with kinetic action. This is not a science lab. This is a war. People are dying. At least Bush discussed what with Congress before he got us in the muck with Iraq and Afghanistan. If this is so bad what about Syria, Darfour, Quatar, Iran, and other middle east nations.

    We are led by misguided and unskilled statesman and stateswoman.

    March 28, 2011 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  11. jules sand-perkins

    The goal of the allied nations is very clear, whether some American citizens understand it, or want to understand it, or not: we are there to save the lives of human beings who are being killed by a ruthless and deluded dictator.

    March 28, 2011 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  12. Monster Zero

    Hmmm, let's see, sold to us as a no fly zone yet we lead bombing attackaon a sovereign Nation's military forces without a word to Congress. Our President (sic) tries to call it something else other than what it is an "ACT of WAR" to appease his base and distract the stupid and simple minded that comprise it. He dresses it up in the name of a Humanitarian mission thinking we will all embrace his spending of yet another few billion in the name of whatever he deems the flavor of the week, while we remain in economic crisis with unemployment in the 20% range. Apparently his goal along with the EU and NATO is to replace a murderous Dictator with the murderous Muslim Brotherhood, they are doing so well elsewhere... Don't get me wrong, Ghaddafi is a piece of crap that needs to pay for his deeds, but I sure do not believe this is how our system is to work. Lib's can spin it anyway the want, they can compare to a myriad of other conflicts we have entered, there are NONE that we have done this in on a parallel basis. War Crimes for war crimes?...where are all of you that were calling for Bush and Cheney's heads now, hmmmmm, Obama didn't even bother to get Congressional approval?

    March 28, 2011 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  13. Indiana Voter

    I would support this war, if the President would actually have the guts to take the lead on this instead of being afraid of what people think. He loses my support when he waffles on his leadership. At least Bush, you knew who the Commander-In-Chief was. Instead we have a President who is afraid of what people will think of him, so he punts his leadership role. Typical behavior of the liberal Democrat.

    March 28, 2011 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  14. Kenzie

    CNN = Obama Re-election News Network
    (Simply look at all of the negative Republican stories they highlight on the left side of the CNN Political Ticker! – I rest my case)

    March 28, 2011 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  15. B

    I think that most that oppose the action have been very concerned about the way this was absent of the proper agreement from Congress.
    This country is moving away completely from basic Constitutional law.

    March 28, 2011 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  16. Bill

    If everyone in America ever agrees on something, we're in big trouble. I'm glad we still have the right to disagree.

    March 28, 2011 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  17. BeverlyNC

    Of course – because Republicans have lied about the Libyan situation from the minute President Obama took action. They want the PEOPLE to forget the Republicans were screaming at President Obama to just run in and bomb Libya like Bush would have done – no plan, no mission, no Allied support, and no end game.
    President Obama has handled this wisely, carefully, and with full world support and help. This is now a UN operation led by many nations – not just the US. That was the smart way to do it and the other countries of the world respect us for how we handled it.
    Only Republicans have now flip-flopped from wanting to start a war in Libya to opposing President Obama for going into Libya with the UN on a humanitarian mission. They are hypocrites and liars. They do not have America's best interests in mind. They only care about their political gains and constantly opposing anything and everything President Obama does.
    They are cowards, anti-People, anti-America, and are liars not leaders.

    March 28, 2011 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  18. fayse

    The confusion regarding the positiion and action of the United States in this mission is because, as usual, the Republicans are desperately trying to make a political statement in a negative way, in any way that they can. McCain & Palin, to name a few were goading and prodiding the President for a no fly zone. Gingrich was for it until he was against it. The bottom line is, all of these "wannabees" do not know, first hand, the decisions that must be made by the President. They can only second guess and assume. We all know what A-S-S-U-M-E- means. The Republicans are desperately trying to find faullt and, that is all that they have. No solutions, No better solutions about jobs, No better soulions regarding the economy. They are just desperate and they have one goal in mind and that is, to regain POWER. The President is thoughtful, and very pragmatic in his decisions. The President shows leadership. ALL of the 24/7 cable news agencies have one goal and that is, to increase ratings and to inflame the public. We as Americans deserve better. God Bless America, God bless our President and to all of the naysayers and the cable news stations...stfu. Not one of the News Stations care about us. This President does care about the United States of America. They are all using us to divide and conqure. Aren't we stronger and more intelligent than that?

    March 28, 2011 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  19. TB

    If John McCain had been elected President and had decided to bomb Gaddafi's forces, EVERY last Republican would be backing this effort 100% and calling ANYONE who even dared to question the President's decision, "anti-American," "un-patriotic," and/or "traitors," just like they did when "W" was in office.

    March 28, 2011 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |