Rasmussen Poll: 63 Percent Want U.S. to Stay Out of Libya Crisis

Tuesday, 08 Mar 2011 12:07 PM

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More than 60 percent of U.S. voters want the United States to maintain a hands-off approach to the Libyan crisis, even as government officials discuss possible military intervention in the Mediterranean country ripped asunder in a rebellion against longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 22 percent of likely U.S. voters think the United States should get more directly involved in the Libyan crisis, while 63 percent say stay out, and 15 percent are not sure. The findings are similar to the responses in late February, when 67 percent said not to get involved in political upheavals in several Arab countries, including Libya.

Four-fifths of the 1,000 likely voters surveyed March 6 and 7 rated the Obama administration’s response to the situation in Libya to date as good or excellent, while one-fifth said it is doing a poor job.

Just over 40 percent said a change in the government of Libya would be good for the United States, while 13 percent said overthrowing Gadhafi would be bad for America and 19 percent say it will have no impact. Nearly 30 percent aren’t sure.

Generally speaking, however, 76 percent of likely voters believe that it’s good for America when dictators in other countries are replaced with leaders selected in free and fair elections.

Forty percent now think it’s at least somewhat likely that Libya will become a free, democratic and peaceful nation during the next few years, but that includes just 7 percent who say it’s very likely. Almost half believe that such a transformation is unlikely, including 8 percent who say it’s not at all likely to occur. And 11 percent are undecided.

This is more optimism than voters expressed when asked two weeks ago if most of the Arab countries now experiencing political unrest will become free, democratic, and peaceful in the next few years. Only 30 percent thought it was at least somewhat likely.

Republicans feel slightly more strongly than Democrats and voters not affiliated with either major party that the United States should get more directly involved in the crisis in Libya. But most GOP voters, like those across all demographic categories, oppose U.S. involvement.

Nearly 60 percent of Democrats give the president good or excellent marks for his handling of Libya, a view shared by 40 percent of unaffiliateds but just 23 percent of Republicans. Members of the president’s party also are more optimistic than GOP and unaffiliated voters that Libya will become a free, democratic, and peaceful nation.

Three-fourths of the political class like the way the president is handling the Libyan situation, but just 29 percent of mainstream voters agree.

Most Americans now fear that the political unrest roiling Arab nations like Egypt and Libya may get America into another big war.

In August 2009, following the British government’s decision to send the terminally ill terrorist convicted of blowing up a Pan Am jet over Lockerbie, Scotland, back home to Libya, 31 percent of Americans described the North African Arab country as an enemy of the United States. Only two percent (2 percent) said Libya was a U.S. ally, while 52 percent rated it somewhere in between an enemy and an ally.

A majority of voters, for the first time, support an immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Afghanistan or the creation of a timetable to bring them all home within a year. But a plurality of voters fears that the growing unrest in the Arab world will have a negative impact on the fragile political situation in Iraq, and most think it is unlikely that all U.S. troops will be out of that country by the end of the year as planned.

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