UTICA, NY — Two-thirds of U.S. adults (66 percent) agree that the United States should take military action against terrorists in nations other than Afghanistan that harbor al-Qaida, such as Yemen and Somalia.
The same Zogby Interactive survey found that majorities think resentment of Western power and influence, making Islam the world's dominant religion, and U.S. support for Israel play the most significant roles in motivating terrorist attacks against the United States. When asked to choose which they believe to be the most important motivating factor, making Islam dominant led with a third of the responses, followed by a quarter who chose resentment of Western power and influence.
The poll of 2,003 adults was conducted from Jan. 15-18 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.2 percent.
Agreement about military action in nations such as Yemen and Somalia was broad-based, including 49 percent of Democrats, 84 percent of Republicans and 70 percent of independents. Support for military action increased with age, from 49 percent of First GlobalsTM, the young adults born since 1979, to 70 percent of the Private generation, adults age 64 and older. Liberals were the dissenters, with 53 percent disagreeing with taking military action.
Analysis of demographic sub-groups (where the margin of error is higher) turned up some significant findings. For example:
- Those who thought "making Islam the world's dominant religion" was the most important motivating factor were most likely to be Republican (58 percent), conservative (58 percent), and Born-again Christian (47 percent). Conversely, only 10 percent of Democrats, 5 percent of liberals and 14 percent of those who never attend religious services viewed this as the primary factor.
- Another choice that produced large differences was "death and damage caused by the U.S. military." Among Democrats, 52 percent say it is a significant cause and 16 percent say it is most important. Among liberals, 66 percent say it's significant and 21 percent say it's most important. However, among Republicans 11 percent say it is a cause, and just 1 percent say it is most important. For conservatives, 14 percent say it's significant and 2 percent say it is most important. Age is also a significant divider, with First Globals being most likely to cite it as a contributing factor (55 percent) as well as the most important factor (15 percent).
- Similar, but smaller differences were found for "resentment of Western freedoms," with Republicans and conservatives being about twice as likely to choose it as were Democrats and liberals.
- Opinion on the role played by U.S. support for Israel was much more uniform across all demographic groups, including those of political ideology, age, income, gender, religious practice, marital status and education.
The survey also asked about keeping U.S. troops in Afghanistan for the time being, and 74 percent agreed that should be done, including 61 percent of Democrats.
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