Two new polls on Libya reinforce the divided public reactions to the United States’ role there, with support still highly dependent on the extent of military commitment.
The public is about evenly split in a new AP poll, with 48 percent approving and 50 percent disapproving of “U.S. involvement in military actions taken in Libya.” That’s about the same as polls from Pew and Gallup reported Monday. The AP poll completed its interviewing on Monday night, when President Obama gave his prime time speech on Libya. At just 13 percent, there is virtually no support for sending ground troops into Libya, in line with earlier polls from CNN and Pew.
A poll from Quinnipiac University, also completed on Monday night among registered voters, found varying levels of support with subtle reactions to the timing and ongoing commitment in Libya. A 53 percent majority approve of Obama’s decision to use cruise missiles to destroy Libya’s air defenses.
But beyond that initial approval for limited action, fewer believe a continued commitment is justified. Fully 47 percent say we should not be involved in Libya now, with just 41 percent saying it is the “right thing” for the United States to use military force now.
The public reacts differently to removing Gadhafi from power in the AP and Quinnipiac polls, perhaps demonstrating the importance of question ordering and context in opinion polls. In the Quinnipiac poll, 41 percent say the United States should use military force to remove the Libyan leader. But support is higher in the AP poll -- up to 55 percent favor “taking increased military action against Libya to remove Moammar Gadhafi from power.”
In the AP poll, this question comes directly after the question on using ground troops. Respondents may have inferred that “increased military action” did not include ground troops. The Quinnipiac poll makes no explicit mention of ground troops, leaving that unpopular option perhaps on the table in attempts to remove Gadhafi.