A massacre last week of more than 100 civilians — including women and children — cast a pall on U.N. peacekeeping efforts in Syria, provoking near-universal international condemnation. Many in Washington are frustrated and are urging the United States to do, well, something. But a key question lingers for Americans: Do they actually want to use their own military might to stop the killing in Syria?
The answer is probably no, at least for now. A smattering of polls this year show little support for getting U.S. troops involved in Syria, but long-term trends show big majorities of Americans support using U.S. troops to stop governments from committing genocidal mass killings.
The divergent poll results may reflect a pro-intervention philosophy running up against a Syrian crisis that lacks an easy military solution or clear international support for the use of force. Nevertheless, the results illuminate how the public is grappling with the issue right now.Continue reading this post »
Americans are noticing slumping gas prices, according to a new poll from the Washington Post and the Pew Research Center. But a key question lingers for the country’s economy still stuck in limbo: Will gas money saved yield a fresh round of consumer spending?
Gas prices in the United States have fallen sharply since peaking in early April, with Americans weary of high pump prices at last getting some relief. More than half the public — 51 percent — says they have seen a drop-off in prices over the past month. And in areas with the steepest price drops, awareness too spikes higher.
While dropping about 20 cents nationally in the last month, the easing prices have not been spread evenly across the country. According to government estimates, the average price of a gallon of gas is down by more than 25 cents on the East Coast and in Gulf Coast states. Midwest and Rocky Mountain states have seen only minor relief, on the scale of 15 cents or less. And prices have actually increased on the West Coast, largely as a result of refinery shortages.
Perceptions of changing gas prices are closely tied with local conditions, attention to the news and income. Nearly seven in 10 of Americans living in states where AAA reports prices dropped by 30 cents or more say that gas prices have gone down. But in states that saw a drop of 15 cents or less, fewer than half noticed the change, and four in 10 said they had gone up.Continue reading this post »
A burgeoning democracy movement has energized Egypt, culminating in a landmark presidential election that started on Wednesday. But a poll released this month shows Egyptians are grappling with dual commitments to Islam and basic democratic liberties as the country shifts from decades of autocratic rule.
The poll shows a majority wants Egypt’s laws to strictly follow the Koran, and the current election may bring bad tidings for Egypt’s one-time partners: The United States continues to be widely unpopular and hostility toward Israel is on the rise.
Egyptians united to oust President Hosni Mubarak amid last year’s Arab Spring uprisings. Many of those who opposed the former Egyptian leader also have disdain for the United States, a longtime Mubarak ally: Nearly eight in 10 Egyptians had an unfavorable view of the United States according to a 2011 poll by the Pew Global Attitudes Project conducted after the overthrow. About half said their views were “very unfavorable.”
Little has changed since then, and a new Pew poll finds scant appreciation for U.S. aid efforts. Egypt has received an average of $2 billion a year from the United States – largely for its military – making it second only to Israel as an aid recipient. But fully six in 10 believe U.S. military and economic assistance is having a mostly negative effect on the country.Continue reading this post »
A nearly 50-year-old bullying allegation against Mitt Romney doesn’t faze many voters, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
Most Americans see the incident -- recounted by some of Romney’s high school classmates in a Washington Post story -- as not serious, and almost all, 90 percent, say it is not an issue that will affect voting.
Moreover, three-quarters of those polled say it is simply not fair to bring up things political candidates did when they were in high school.
Majorities across party lines also say the episode does not provide relevant information about Romney’s personal character. The percentage saying it does peaks at 42 percent among Democrats who have a gay friend or family member. The recipient of Romney’s bullying is thought to have been gay.
Also, among those who see the incident as serious, two-thirds say it provides important information about his character. Even so, most of these people say it is unlikely to be a major factor in their presidential choice.
Obama’s time in high school past gets virtually identical treatment as Romney’s. Seven in 10 say the things he did back in Hawaii do not provide relevant information about his personal character. In his memoir, Obama alluded to using marijuana and cocaine in high school.
The public splits roughly down the middle on President Obama’s handling of the situation in Afghanistan and managing international affairs more broadly. Those middling ratings come from the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll, conducted just before Obama attended the NATO summit in Chicago
The outcome of that summit -- setting down a plan for ending the combat mission in Afghanistan -- may help to boost Obama’s future ratings in these areas. Public support for the war evaporated long ago, with only three in 10 saying the war was worth fighting in an April Post-ABC poll, a new low point in polling back to 2007.Continue reading this post »