Entries in ABC News/Washington Post Poll (14)


Majority of Americans Believe Wars in Iraq, Afghanistan Not Worth Fighting

US Department of Defense(NEW YORK) -- Nearly a decade after the Iraq war began, nearly 60 percent of Americans believe the war was not worth fighting.

Almost as many Americans feel the same way about the war in Afghanistan. While the overall criticisms of the two wars are far below their peaks, an ABC News/Washington Post poll showed that their critics still far outweight supporters.

The poll shows that 58% of Americans believe the war in Iraq was not worth fighting, while 56% believe the same for the war in Afghanistan.

See the full results of the poll here.

According to the survey, one of the biggest reasons for the criticism is the prevailing opinion that neither war significantly improved the United States' security. Just 51 percent of people surveyed believe the war in Afghanistan contributed positively to domestic security. The number for the Iraq war is even lower, at 46 percent.

Perhaps more striking is that the majority of those who consider the wars to have improved U.S. security, less than half of them believe the wars contributed "a great deal."

The poll found significant differences in responses based on ideologies. Fifty-seven percent of Republicans believe the Iraq war was justified, while just 35 percent of independents and 27 percent of Democrats feel the same way.

The results of the poll are drastically different from when each war began. Shortly after their beginnings, each war was supported by over 80 percent of Americans. As time has worn on, however, support has decreased. Many Americans, it seems, did not expect the wars to be as drawn-out and costly as they have been.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


POLL: After Newtown Shootings, Most Back Some Gun Controls

DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A majority of Americans favor such gun control measures as banning assault weapons and expanding background checks on those who buy guns and ammunition, with support for banning high-capacity ammunition magazines at a new high in ABC News/Washington Post polls.

With Vice President Joe Biden set to present recommendations that were prompted by the Newtown, Conn., school shootings last month, this latest poll shows overwhelming support for certain moves: Eighty-eight percent favor background checks on firearms buyers at gun shows; 76 percent support checks on buyers of ammunition and 71 percent back a new federal database that would track all gun sales.

For full results, charts and tables, CLICK HERE.

Sixty-five percent also support banning high-capacity ammunition magazines, a high in three ABC/Post polls to test the idea since early 2011, and up by 6 percentage points since just after the Newtown shootings. Among other suggestions, 58 percent favor banning the sale of so-called assault weapons, 55 percent support the National Rifle Association’s call for armed guards in schools and 51 percent would ban semi-automatic handguns.

Notably, support for the most popular of these measures – expanded background checks, a gun database and banning high-capacity magazines – includes a majority of people who live in gun-owning households, a group that accounts for 44 percent of all adults in this country.

The intensity of support for all these proposals is also notable; “strong” support for each measure outstrips strong opposition, in most cases by overwhelming margins (save the two less-popular items, armed school guards and a semi-automatic handgun ban). For instance, 50 percent “strongly” favor banning assault weapons, twice the number who strongly opposes it. And 76 percent strongly support background checks at gun shows, while only 8 percent say they’re are strongly opposed.

Fifty-five percent in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, express worry about a mass shooting in their own communities, and 52 percent say the Newtown shootings have made them more likely to support some forms of gun control.

As noted, support for banning high-capacity magazines is at a new high in polling since 2011. But there’s no consistent change on other proposals. Support for background checks on gun show buyers is essentially the same as it was in the late 1990s; support for banning assault weapons is numerically up from its low in 2009 but still well below its levels in the mid- to late 1990s; and support for banning semi-automatic handguns has been essentially steady in recent years.

ACTION – Looking ahead to the possibility of legislative action, most Americans give the issue at least a high priority for the president and Congress to address, but not “the highest,” and more give greater priority to "addressing gun violence” (68 percent) than specifically “enacting stricter gun control laws” (59 percent).

While they reach majorities, both of these are lower on the list than other top-shelf issues, including the economy, cutting federal spending, restructuring the tax system and slowing the rate of growth in spending on Social Security and Medicare.

The higher priority for “addressing gun violence” versus “enacting stricter gun control laws” (in a split-sample test) likely reflects some compunctions about whether gun control measures will work. The public, for instance, divides on whether stricter gun laws or armed guards in schools would be more effective (43-41 percent), and as many or more blame gun violence on inadequate treatment of the mentally ill, and on irresponsibility among gun owners, as on other causes.

FACTORS – Many factors receive broad blame for gun crimes. Leading the list, more than eight in 10 see inadequate treatment of the mentally ill, inadequate background checks and lack of individual responsibility by gun owners as contributors to gun violence, and more than half, in each case, say these contribute “a great deal” to the problem.

Sixty-nine to 73 percent also see the availability of semi-automatic handguns, high-capacity ammunition clips and assault weapons as contributors – yet as many say the same about the prevalence of violence in TV programs, movies and video games. The fewest numerically, 38 percent, believe violence in the media contributes “a great deal” to gun violence.

There are three items on which more people say the issue contributes to gun violence than favor legislative action: Sixty-nine percent see access to semi-automatic handguns as a contributor, versus 51 percent who favor banning such weapons; 73 percent say assault weapons are a contributor, versus 58 percent who favor banning those; and 70 percent see high-capacity magazines as a factor in gun violence, while slightly fewer, 65 percent, would ban them. The gaps apparently exist at least in part because support for action is lower among those who see these as contributing “somewhat” but not a great deal to gun violence – a group that includes more pro-gun individuals, such as people in gun-owning households, men and political conservatives.

GROUPS – There are striking differences among groups on some, but not all, gun control issues. Support for gun control measures generally is higher among women than men, with the gap peaking on a ban on semi-automatic handguns, supported by 60 percent of women versus 40 percent of men.

In addition to the expected partisan and ideological divisions, support for gun control also is higher in several cases among senior citizens vs. the youngest adults, among city dwellers vs. those in suburbs or rural areas, in Democratic-voting blue states vs. more-Republican red states, and in non-gun households vs. those in which someone owns a firearm. There also are regional divisions, with support for gun control typically highest in the Northeast and lowest in the South.

These differences, however, generally fade on the issues on which agreement is most broad – background checks, a gun database and banning high-capacity magazines.

Patterns are different in support for armed guards in schools; this idea is more popular with conservatives versus liberals (63 versus 44 percent), in red versus blue states (67 versus 49 percent) and among Republicans versus Democrats and independents (65 versus 52 percent). It also gets more support from parents with minor children, 62 percent, versus 51 percent among other adults. In the biggest gap, the proposal for armed school guards is nearly 30 points more popular with people who see the NRA’s leadership favorably than among those who see it unfavorably, 69 versus 40 percent.

There are other differences among groups that inform views on gun control. Women, for instance, are 13 points more apt than men to say the Newtown shootings have made them more likely to support some forms of gun control, and 16 points more likely to be worried that a mass shooting could occur in their own area. That worry is a prime factor in support for stricter gun laws.

THE NRA – While recent polls have found the NRA to be popular overall with a majority of Americans, this survey finds a less positive assessment of the association’s leadership -  more see it unfavorably than favorably by an 8-point margin, 44 versus 36 percent, although many don’t know enough to say.

There’s a mixed result on the NRA’s influence on gun policy; on the one hand more, 38 percent, say it has too much influence versus too little (24 percent) or about the right amount (30 percent). At the same time, that makes a majority, netted, saying its influence is too little or about right.

The NRA’s leadership, naturally, has far more support among people in gun-owning versus non-gun-owning households – a 52 percent versus 22 percent favorable rating. Similarly, 49 percent in non-gun households say the NRA has too much influence over gun laws. In gun households 27 percent agree.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Strong Support for Gay Marriage Now Exceeds Strong Opposition

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Strong public support for same-sex marriage exceeds strong opposition by a significant margin for the first time in ABC News/Washington Post polls, and African-Americans have moved more in favor, perhaps taking their lead from President Obama on the issue.

Overall, 53 percent of Americans say gay marriage should be legal -- a figure that has been steady in the past year but is up from 36 percent in 2006.  Thirty-nine percent “strongly” support it, while 32 percent are strongly opposed -- the first time strong sentiment has tilted positive.  Six years ago, by contrast, strong views on the issue were negative by a broad 27-point margin.

Further, this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, finds that support for gay marriage has reached a new high among African-Americans in ABC/Post polls, up from four in 10 in recent surveys to 59 percent now.

Another result shows increasing exposure: Seventy-one percent of Americans now say they have a friend, family member or acquaintance who’s gay, up from 59 percent in 1998.  People who know someone who’s gay are 20 points more likely than others to support gay marriage.

Regardless of that shift, Obama’s May 9 announcement of his support for gay marriage shows no measurable impact on political preferences.  While more support than oppose his position -- 51-41 percent -- Americans divide on whether it’s a political plus or minus, with most saying it’s not a major factor in their vote choice.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Poll: Concern About Broader War Dampens Support for Iran Attack

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Broad concern about wider war in the Middle East is dampening public support for U.S. or Israeli military strikes against Iran’s nuclear development sites, with Americans by wide margins preferring diplomatic efforts or economic deterrence instead.

Eighty-four percent in this ABC News/Washington Post poll suspect that Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons, basically unchanged since late 2009. As then, the preferred approaches are direct diplomatic talks between the U.S. and Iran, backed by 81 percent, and an increase in international economic sanctions, supported by three-quarters.

Many fewer, 41 percent, support a U.S. bombing effort, with 53 percent opposed, again similar to 2009. Support for Israeli strikes is virtually identical, with 42 percent in favor and 51 percent opposed. Israel has threatened such strikes; President Obama, while not ruling out military action, has urged allowing more time for sanctions to work, a position criticized by some of his Republican opponents.

RISK OF WAR -- Reluctance to support airstrikes stems mostly from a broad concern that they could trigger a larger war in the Middle East. Nearly nine out of 10 in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, see a risk of broader war if Israel were to bomb Iran; three-quarters call it a “major” risk.

Among those who perceive a major risk of war, just 32 percent support Israeli strikes against Iranian nuclear sites, and 35 percent back U.S. bombing efforts. Those who perceive little or no risk of sparking a regional war are far more supportive of airstrikes -- 76 percent support action by Israel, 64 percent by the United States.

WAIT AND SEE? -- More than twice as many Americans say it’s a better idea to wait and see if economic sanctions against Iran work -- even if this allows more time for its nuclear program to progress (64 percent) -- than to attack Iran soon, before its nuclear program progresses further than it already has, even if that means not waiting to see if sanctions work (26 percent).

The “wait-and-see” approach is particularly popular among those who perceive a major risk of wider war. Nearly seven in 10 in this group think the U.S. should pursue sanctions first. Among those who see no risk of war, many fewer, 47 percent, agree.

GROUPS -- Preferred approaches to Iran vary as expected by political preference. Fifty-five percent of Republicans support U.S. bombing strikes, compared with 36 percent of Democrats and independents combined. Similarly, support ranges from 55 percent among conservatives to 38 percent of moderates and a quarter of liberals.

Support for U.S. airstrikes also is 10 points lower among women than men (36 percent vs. 46 percent); women customarily express lower support for military action. It’s also 13 points lower among college graduates than among non-graduates, 32 percent vs. 45 percent.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Poll: One in Four US Women Reports Workplace Harassment

Fuse/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- One in four American women has experienced workplace sexual harassment, according to a new ABC News/Washington Post poll.

One in 10 men say they’ve experienced it as well, and a quarter of men say they worry about being falsely accused of sexual harassment.

With harassment allegations against Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain dominating the headlines, this survey, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, shows the extent to which the subject resonates in the personal experiences and concerns of many Americans.

Overall, 64 percent see sexual harassment as a problem in this country, soaring to 88 percent of women who’ve been harassed.  Still, the overall number is far below its peak -- 85 percent -- in late 1992.  That was a year after the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, who was accused of harassment by former co-worker Anita Hill, and during the sexual misconduct scandal that forced then Sen. Bob Packwood, R-Ore., from office.

Experience of harassment is also down from its peak, from 32 percent of women in surveys in late 1992 and mid-1994 to 24 percent now.  Additionally, among women who’ve been sexually harassed, somewhat more now say they reported it to their employer -- 41 percent, compared with 33 percent in 1994.

Further, the number of men who worry about being falsely accused has eased a bit from 31 percent in 1994 to 25 percent now.  And fewer men think they’ve said or done things that might be construed as workplace sexual harassment -- 10 percent now vs. 25 percent in 1994.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


For President in Down Economy, Praise Is Hard to Come By

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(NEW YORK) -- Praise is hard to come by for a president in a bad economy.

An open-ended question in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll asked Americans what Barack Obama has done particularly well lately, and what he’s done especially poorly – and then, which of the two is more important.

It’s the follow-up that marks the president’s challenges. Whatever they say he’s done, the public by 56 to 40 percent also says the negative answer – what the president’s handled poorly lately – is more important than the positive, what he’s done notably well.

As to the answers, nearly 1 in 4 (23 percent) volunteer the economy or jobs as Obama’s greatest failing, with other responses in single digits, led by items such as international issues, 8 percent; spending and the deficit, 7 percent; and healthcare, also 7 percent.

On the positive side, there’s the killing of Osama bin Laden, cited by 29 percent as the president’s best recent accomplishment. But his bin Laden bounce in approval already has vanished.

Antipathy toward the president is high enough that 16 percent of Americans volunteer that he’s done “nothing” especially well recently. On the other hand, that’s nearly balanced by the 12 percent who say he’s done nothing poorly.

Majorities of Democrats and liberals (59 and 61 percent, respectively) say the thing he’s done well recently is more important to them than the thing he’s done poorly. But larger majorities of Republicans and conservatives (74 and 71 percent) say the thing he’s done poorly is more important. And among independents and moderates, 58 and 53 percent, respectively, say what Obama has done poorly recently outweighs what he’s done well.

In another comparison, nearly a quarter of Republicans say he’s done nothing well recently, while only 5 percent say he’s done nothing poorly – a net 18=percent negative. It’s 19 percent “nothing well” vs. 7 percent “nothing poorly” among independents, also negative, by a net 12 points. Only Democrats are positive on this comparison; 23 percent say Obama’s done nothing poorly, vs. 6 percent who say he hasn’t done anything especially well lately.

Maintaining popularity at a time of 9.1 percent unemployment is a steep challenge for any president. One approach can be to suggest that recent positive achievements outweigh continued problems. These results – with the 2012 election looming – show how tough that sale may be.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


ABC News/'Washington Post' Poll: Opposition to Nuclear Power Spikes

Tom Brakefield/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Americans by a two-to-one margin oppose building more nuclear power plants in the United States, an 11-point spike in opposition from a few years ago.
In the aftermath of Japan’s nuclear plant crisis, 64 percent in this ABC News/Washington Post poll oppose new nuclear plant construction vs. 33 percent support, and “strong” opposition now far outstrips strong support, 47-20 percent. Opposition is up from 53 percent in a 2008 poll, and strong opposition is up even more, by 24 points.
The results reflect the significant challenges facing the nuclear power industry, which had been reaching for greater acceptance on the basis of factors including high oil prices, environmental concerns prompted by the Gulf oil spill a year ago and efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
Opposition is not merely a not-in-my-backyard phenomenon. The survey, conducted for ABC News by Langer Research Associates, finds that 67 percent of Americans oppose construction of a nuclear plant within 50 miles of their home -- not significantly different than the number who oppose it regardless of location.
Resistance is bipartisan, with majorities of Democrats, Republicans and independents alike opposed to new nuclear plant construction. Still there are differences among groups; opposition is higher among Democrats (75 percent vs. 59 percent of Republicans and independents combined), women (73 percent vs. 53 percent of men) and liberals (74 percent vs. 60 percent of moderates and conservatives).
Support for building more nuclear plants has fluctuated in the past, showing sensitivity to nuclear crises. Starting at 61 percent in the mid-1970s, support fell sharply after the Three Mile Island accident in 1979 and bottomed out at just 19 percent in May 1986 as the Chernobyl crisis (which began 25 years ago next week) unfolded.
Safe? Most Americans do not flatly say that nuclear power is unsafe; indeed 53 percent say it’s safe overall, 11 points above the immediate post-Chernobyl level. But just 23 percent see it as “very safe,” which apparently is what’s needed to sustain public support.
Indeed perceptions of safety dramatically affect support for new nuclear plants. Among people who think nuclear power plants are very safe, 84 percent favor building new ones. But that falls to 33 percent of those who just think it’s only somewhat safe. And those who think it’s unsafe are nearly unanimous (93 percent) in their opposition.
In another measure, 42 percent say the crisis in Japan has made them less confident in the safety of nuclear power overall; 51 percent say it’s had no effect. This, too, ties in closely with support for construction: Among those who are less confident now, 84 percent oppose building new plants. Among those whose opinions haven’t changed, opposition falls to 48 percent.
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Support for Gay Marriage Reaches a Milestone

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- More than half of Americans say it should be legal for gays and lesbians to marry, a first in nearly a decade of polls by ABC News and The Washington Post.

This milestone result caps a dramatic, long-term shift in public attitudes.  From a low of 32 percent in a 2004 survey of registered voters, support for gay marriage has grown to 53 percent today.  Forty-four percent are opposed, down 18 points from that 2004 survey.

The issue remains divisive; as many adults "strongly" oppose gay marriage as strongly support it, and opposition rises to more than two-to-one among Republicans and conservatives and three-to-one among evangelical white Protestants, a core conservative group.  But opposition to gay marriage has weakened in these groups from its levels a few years ago, and support has grown sharply among others -- notably, among Catholics, political moderates, people in their 30s and 40s, and men.

The results reflect a changing albeit still polarized climate.  Gay marriage has been legalized in five states and the District of Columbia, by court ruling or legislative action, since 2003, while many other states prohibit it.  The Obama administration late last month said it would no longer defend the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, a 1996 law banning federal recognition of gay marriages. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Three-Quarters of Americans Back Women in Combat Roles

Jupiterimages/Comstock(NEW YORK) -- The Military Leadership Diversity Commission has company.

Nearly three-quarters of Americans agree that women in the armed services should be allowed to serve in ground units that engage in direct combat.
The commission, established by Congress in 2009 to evaluate military policies, recommended earlier this month that the U.S. military stop excluding women from ground combat units, saying such policies do not in fact keep them out of combat situations, deny them equal opportunities to serve, and interfere with their promotion to senior ranks.
And the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll finds little controversy about it.  Seventy-three percent of Americans say they support allowing women in the military to serve in ground units that engage in close combat -- essentially the same among men and women alike.
There are some differences among groups.  Support for allowing women in combat roles peaks among young adults -- 86 percent of those under 30 years old -- while dropping to 57 percent among senior citizens.  And it's higher among more-educated Americans -- 79 percent among those with college degrees versus 66 percent among people who haven't finished high school.
Politically, support for allowing women in combat roles is higher among Democrats (80 percent) and independents (73 percent) than it among Republicans (62 percent).  It ranges from 85 percent among liberals to 58 percent among "very" conservative Americans, but in no group is a majority opposed.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Economy, Gas, Partisanship and War Gang Up on Confidence in Gov't

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Confidence in the U.S. system of government has dropped to a new low in more than 35 years, with public attitudes burdened by continued economic discontent, soaring gasoline prices, record opposition to the war in Afghanistan -- and a letdown in hopes for political progress after a bout of bipartisanship last fall.

Only 26 percent of Americans in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll say they're optimistic about "our system of government and how well it works," down seven points since October to the fewest in surveys dating to 1974. Almost as many, 23 percent, are pessimistic, the closest these measures ever have come. The rest, a record high, are "uncertain" about the system.

The causes are many. Despite a significant advance, more than half still say the economy has not yet begun to recover. And there's trouble at the pump: Seventy-one percent in this poll, produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates, report financial hardship as a result of rising gas prices. Forty-four percent call it a "serious" hardship.

On an equally critical front in terms of potential political impact, just 31 percent now say the war in Afghanistan has been worth fighting, a new low. Sixty-four percent call it not worth fighting, and 49 percent feel that way "strongly," both record highs in ABC/Post polls.

Two-to-one opposition for the first time puts public criticism of the war in Afghanistan at the level seen for the war in Iraq. Such views had a devastating impact on President George W. Bush, the least popular second-term president in polls since the Truman presidency. And there's danger ahead; fighting in Afghanistan, now in its winter lull, is expected to intensify come summer.

Indeed, with Gen. David Petraeus set to testify on Capitol Hill this week, a broad and bipartisan 73 percent of Americans say the United States should withdraw a substantial number of its combat forces from Afghanistan this summer. But just 39 percent think it will.

In politics, many Americans appear to regard President Obama and the Republicans in Congress as a choice between a rock and a hard place.

On one hand, 55 percent disapprove of Obama's handling of the economy and budget deficit alike. On the other, Republicans have lost ground in public trust to deal with both issues, now trailing Obama by 12- and 9-point margins, respectively.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

ABC News Radio