Nearly four in 10 North Carolina voters guess the United States will go to war with North Korea, even though there is strong opposition to the idea of taking military action to remove nuclear weapons from the country, according to a new Elon University Poll.
“Even when reminded about the threat of nuclear weapons in North Korea, voters in North Carolinians are very hesitant to commit to war,” said Jason Husser director of the Elon Poll. “Opposition to war in North Korea is almost twice as high in North Carolina as it was nationally in the months leading up to the 2003 Iraq invasion. North Carolina voters today are also far less convinced about the likelihood of a new Korean War than the nation was convinced about the inevitably of the Iraq War back in 2002.”
In another part of the world, N.C. voters are split evenly on whether the United States should take further military action in Syria, a country torn apart by civil war since 2011, with 48 percent believing that the United States has a responsibility to do something to end the fighting compared to 36 percent who believe there is no need for action.
Asked about global engagement, nearly two in three N.C. voters believe North Carolina’s involvement in the global economy is a good thing that offers new markets and opportunities for growth.
The live-caller, dual-frame (landline and cell phone) survey of 506 registered voters was conducted April 18-21, 2017 and has a margin of error of +/- 4.36 percentage points.
War with North Korea
The Elon Poll began its survey of North Carolina voters on April 18, two days after North Korea attempted a missile launch, and tensions between the country and the United States remain high, with President Donald Trump saying on Thursday that a major conflict with the country is possible. N.C. voters are generally opposed to taking action against North Korea, but there appears to be strong differences of opinion when it comes to party affiliation.
Asked whether the United States should enter a war with the goal of removing nuclear weapons, 50 percent of N.C. voters oppose such a war, with 35 percent supporting it. However, Republican voters are much more strongly in favor of military action than their Democratic counterparts. Fifty-seven percent of Republicans favor a war to remove nuclear weapons in North Korea with 26 percent opposed to military intervention. Among Democrats, 67 percent oppose such a war compared to 18 percent who favor military action. Among independent voters, 53 percent are opposed to a war with North Korea, with 33 percent in support.
Black voters are more likely to oppose a war with North Korea over nuclear weapons, with 65 percent voicing opposition compared to 45 percent of white voters. Millennials — those born in 1981 or after — were most strongly opposed to a war with North Korea, with 59 percent objecting. On the other end of the age spectrum, the Silent Generation, those aged 73 or older, were evenly split on the question.
Asked to guess whether a war with North Korea is on the horizon, 50 percent of N.C. voters said it is not, while 37 percent said a war is coming, with another 11 percent saying either they didn’t know or “it depends.” Black voters were more likely to say the United States will go to war with North Korea, with 53 percent anticipating war, compared to 30 percent of white voters who say war is coming. Forty two percent of female voters said the U.S. will go to war with North Korea compared to 31 percent of male voters.
“While North Carolina voters are largely unsupportive of a war with North Korea at the immediate moment, the conflict is constantly evolving and a violent escalation on the part of Kim Jong-un would likely change opinion dramatically,” Husser said.
Action in Syria
A little more than a week before the Elon Poll began its spring survey, the United States launched a military strike against targets in Syria, which has been ravaged by fighting in recent years. Asked about whether further military action in Syria by the United States is called for, N.C. voters were split, with 42 percent saying yes and 42 percent saying no. Similarly, voters were split on whether the U.S. should accept more refugees from Syria, with 44 percent saying the country should not and 43 percent saying it should.
But when party affiliation is taken into account, considerable differences appeared between how Democratic and Republican voters in North Carolina approach the two questions.
More than two-thirds of Republican voters (69 percent) were in favor of further military action in Syria, compared to 27 percent of Democratic voters. Among Democrats, 58 percent opposed further military action, while 18 percent of Republicans were against it. Independent voters were more evenly divided, with 48 percent opposed to further military action and 36 percent in support.
Likewise, the issue of whether the U.S. should accept additional refugees from Syria also saw clear division between the two major political parties. Democrats were far more supportive of taking in additional refugees, with 65 percent in support compared to 15 percent of Republicans. Opposition to additional refugees was strongest among Republicans, with 73 percent of Republican voters against the idea compared to 22 percent of Democrat voters. Independent voters were essentially evenly divided on the issue.
Black voters and women voters were more likely to favor accepting more refugees than their white and male counterparts, the poll found.
“North Carolina voters are aligning on partisan lines regarding the Syrian conflict,” Husser said. Republicans tend to favor further military action while Democrats are much more likely to prefer a response of accepting Syrian refugees. Given that fighting in Syria is among the most complicated and rapidly changing situations in the world right now, these trends in public opinion have potential to shift depending on decisions in Washington.”
Asked whether the United States had a responsibility to do something about the fighting in Syria, 48 percent of N.C. voters said yes and 36 percent saying the country had no responsibility. Another 8 percent said “it depends” and an additional 7 percent said they didn’t know. Democrats were evenly divided on the issue, while 58 percent of Republicans said the country has a responsibility to stop the fighting compared to 30 percent who said there was no responsibility to do so. Independent voters were also more likely to say the country had a responsibility to do something about the fighting.
With this survey, the Elon Poll begins tracking the views of North Carolinians about the global economy and its impact on the state. Voters were asked which statement was closer to their view of the state’s involvement in the global economy — it is a good thing because it provides the state with new markets and opportunities for growth, or it is a bad thing because it lowers wages and costs jobs in the state.
Overall, 62 percent of N.C. voters said global engagement is a good thing, compared to 25 percent who believe it to be bad. There was little difference based on party affiliation, with 62 percent of Democrats and 58 percent of Republicans saying global engagement is a good thing.
More variation was seen along racial and gender lines. Sixty seven percent of white voters said the state’s involvement in the global economy is a good thing compared to 48 percent of black voters. Seventy one percent of male voters said it is a good thing, compared to 54 percent of female voters.
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