Tuesday, March 22, 2011

No Rally 'Round the Flag Effect on Libya Airstrikes

This is strange. One of the most common phenomena of public opinion and war is for the public to rally dramatically behind the president upon the commitment of U.S. troops to action. But according to polls on President Obama's use of force against the Gaddafi regime in Libya, this administration's action is seeing the lowest "rally 'round the the flag" effect compared to at least nine military operations since President Reagan's bombing raid against Gaddafi in 1986. See Gallup, "Americans Approve of Military Action Against Libya, 47% to 37%." Today 47 percent back Obama's authorization of force against Libya, whereas in 1986 a whopping 71 percent supported President Reagan's decision to strike Gaddafi's compound during Operation El Dorado Canyon. As Gallup notes:

Support for the current involvement in Libya is also much lower than support for U.S. airstrikes against Libya in 1986 in response to the Libyan bombing of a German nightclub that killed two American servicemen.
The president is also not benefiting from a personal "rally 'round the flag effect," which is the surge of approval for the president's job handling during the use of military force. David Weigel reports, "No Obama Poll Bounce from Libya." And progressive pollster Nate Silver does his best to put Obama in good standing, "Poll Finds Tentative Support, Potential Risks for Obama on Libya." The explanation for Obama's lackluster numbers could be war fatigue, but the president's indifference and relatively muted public statements can be contrasted unfavorably with previous administrations more comfortable with the projection of U.S. military power. In other words, presidential leadership matters and this White House is lacking.

That said, CBS News has an outlier with some higher levels of support: "
Nearly 7 in 10 support air strikes in Libya, CBS News poll finds." It's probably a flawed sample, given the wide discrepancy, but at least Obambi will have something on which to pin his hopes.


Mike said...

Using the large discrepancy as your basis, why do you deduce that the CBS poll is wrong? Might not that mean the Gallup poll is wrong too?

Dennis said...

I would suggest that it is difficult to take Obama seriously and not see this as just playing politics before the next election. All Qaddafi has to do is survive and he has won.
What is the mission? How far will Obama go before he bails and leaves the Europeans holding the bag so to speak. Is Obama really acting like a leader or just someone who believes there is a political benefit to him no matter what way it turns out. One he claims credit and the other he blames Hilary and the Europeans, many he has little respect, for misleading him.
"If one attacks the King (Qaddafi) then one needs to kill the King. The King still controls most of the country. None of these so called allies have shown the ability to endure and Obama won't so what does anyone really expect the end of this will look like? Given Obama's record it won't be anything good for this country.

AmPowerBlog said...

Mike: CBS is an outlier. Other polls besides Gallup have approval around 50 percent, which is 21 percent less support than for the 1986 attacks.