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University of Iowa News Release


May 19, 2011

UI Hawkeye Poll: Support for airstrikes in Libya split – but not along party lines

As the United States and NATO allies continue to launch airstrikes in Libya, a University of Iowa Hawkeye Poll released today suggests that Americans are split on support for the intervention, but that the divide does not fall along party lines.

One-third of respondents approve of the intervention, while nearly half disapprove. A large percentage of respondents (21 percent) said they didn't know or declined to answer.

Pollsters were surprised to see Democrats and Republicans express similar views on the Libya intervention. Thirty-six percent of Democrats and 38 percent of Republicans supported the move, while 42 percent of Democrats and 38 percent of Republicans opposed it. Independents were most opposed to airstrikes in Libya, with 56 percent disapproval and 26 percent approval.

"In many foreign interventions over the last decade, we have seen a significant partisan split, but it appears to not be the case with Libya," said Nicholas Martini, a UI doctoral student in political science and a member of the Hawkeye Poll Cooperative. "Republican and Democratic elites are mixed on their support for the conflict and this is likely contributing to the lack of a partisan split among the public."

Ideology doesn't seem to be a factor, either. Respondents who self-identified as liberal were least likely to approve of the intervention in Libya (28 percent), but only 34 percent of conservatives and 33 percent of moderates approved. A large portion of each group responded, "don't know" or declined to answer (23 percent of liberals, 18 percent of conservatives and 21 percent of moderates).

The Hawkeye Poll found that a majority (52 percent) of respondents who disapprove of how Barack Obama is handling his job as president also disapprove of the military intervention in Libya. Of those who approve of his performance as president, 40 percent disapprove of the intervention.

Results also revealed a gender gap: 28 percent of women and 37 percent of men support the strikes.

The national telephone poll of 867 respondents was conducted April 4-11, and the margin of error is plus or minus 3.3 percent. Topline results for the poll are available at: Thirty percent of participants were Democrat, 29 percent were Republican and 33 percent were independent. Forty-nine percent considered themselves moderate, while 17 percent self-identified as liberal and 35 percent as conservative. Reported results are weighted by state population and age.

The poll was conducted by the Hawkeye Poll Cooperative, comprised of UI faculty, graduate and undergraduate students in political science, with the cooperation and facilities of the Iowa Social Science Research Center, directed by UI Sociology Professor Kevin Leicht. Faculty adviser for the poll is UI Associate Professor of Political Science Frederick Boehmke. The poll is a teaching, research and service project of the UI Department of Political Science. The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the Office of the Provost fund the poll.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Nick Martini, Hawkeye Poll, 319-335-2319,; Nicole Riehl, University News Services, 319-384-0070,; Frederick Boehmke, Hawkeye Poll, 319-335-2342,