Signs of war fatigue continue to pop up in polls with the latest being a PPP Poll released today that found only 27% of Americans support military action in Libya, despite the fact that only 58% of Americans actually know where Libya is located.
The PPP Poll revealed that while the margin between those favoring the President’s decision to get involved in Libya and those who don’t is only 13%, (27%-40%) the issue has split Democrats, 31%-28% slightly in favor, and has not gained the President any support with Republicans or Independents.
Only 4% of Republicans and 13% of Independents said that Libya made them more likely to vote for Obama next year, but Libya is far from a make or break issue for the President. 58% of Independents, 54% of Democrats, and 44% said of Republicans responded that Obama’s Libya decision will not make a difference to them in 2012.
By race only 34% of whites, 29% of Hispanics, and 17% of African-Americans believed that Libya made them less likely to vote for Obama. People over 65 (44%), and those age 18-29 (42%) were most likely to oppose the US intervention in Libya. Obama didn’t do well with seniors as a group in 2008, but voters 18-29 are an important part of his base. However, it’s voters over 65 (39%), and those age 45-65 (36%) who said that Libya made them less likely to support Obama in 2012.
Even though 93% of the respondents considered themselves equally or more than the average voter, only 58% of them actually knew where Libya is located. By age, young people (69%) were the most likely to know that Libya is located in North Africa. Less than half of those over 65 (48%) knew where Libya is at.
Whites (59%) were slightly more able to locate Libya than Hispanics (49%) and African-Americans (48%). 69% of Independents could locate Libya compared to 55% of Democrats, and 51% of Republicans. 70% of men could locate Libya, but only 46% of women could, but overall Americans are pretty clueless about Libya.
What these numbers mean is that Libya is not a big problem for Obama, but if the White House was expecting to gain Republican or Independent support with their decision, they’d best think again. The groups that Obama didn’t do well with in 2008, seniors, men, whites dislike Obama’s Libya decision the most, but they were not going to support the President anyway.
The decision to go to Libya has divided Democrats, but the margins across the board on this question aren’t that high. 33% of Americans aren’t sure whether they support Obama’s decision or not.
Since this isn’t a ground war and troops aren’t coming back home missing limbs or in body bags, this issue will go away as soon as US involvement in the coalition ends. Libya isn’t going to cost Obama the 2012 election, but it isn’t winning anyone new over to his side either.
The fact that only 58% Americans know where Libya is located, but they are still skittish about being there is evidence of our lingering national war fatigue. This country has now been at war for a decade. The American people are tired, and they want the troops home. The last thing they want to see is their country involved in more conflict in another far off land.
The nation is burned out on war, and would rather be focusing on the economy and domestic issues right now. No intervention, no matter how small or well done will be popular at this time. The easiest way for Obama to boost his poll numbers right now would be for him to announce that he is bringing all the troops and that the economy will be his sole focus going forward.
The reality of the situation in Afghanistan makes an immediate comprehensive withdrawal impossible, but Obama would be politically well served to start getting troops out of there ASAP, which is exactly what will probably happen as we get closer to the 2012 election.
Obama couldn’t win Bush’s war in Afghanistan, and the subtle message behind this Libya poll is that America is sick of war. In essence, the majority of Americans are saying, we don’t care where or what this war is.
The message behind this poll is enough is enough. It’s time to bring the troops home.