The 47% of Americans approving of the action against Libya is lower than what Gallup has found when asking about approval of other U.S. military campaigns in the past four decades. ~Gallup

It’s interesting that both approval and disapproval were slightly higher for Kosovo (51/45%) and Haiti (54/45%). That was probably the result of a much longer build-up to the intervention, more extensive coverage in the weeks leading up to it, and televised presidential addresses in primetime announcing the beginning of the operations. One out of four respondents doesn’t have a firm view, and over time those undecided Americans are unlikely to drift into the supporting camp. As the intervention drags on, support is going to ebb. Right now, support for the Libyan war comes disproportionately from Republicans (57/31%), and more independents disapprove than approve. Compared to most past wars, Democratic support for military action in Libya (51/37%) is fairly weak considering that it is being waged by a President of their party.

How do we reconcile Gallup’s result with polls showing up to 70% of the public approving of the no-fly zone in Libya? I’m not sure. Based on previous polls that asked a series of questions on Libya, my guess is that many respondents don’t fully appreciate that there cannot be a no-fly zone without military action. Once the question is phrased in terms of taking military action against Libya, which is what the U.S. and allied governments have been doing, support plummets.

P.S. For British public opinion, here’s the YouGov survey that Tisdall mentioned. The question to which Tisdall referred was phrased this way:

How much do you trust the following to tell the truth about what is happening in the military action in Libya?

47% of respondents distrust Cameron, and 51% distrust Obama, and just 43% and 38% trust the two respectively. Incidentally, British respondents overwhelmingly trust their military, but have much less confidence in ours. The British public is against a ground deployment 69-21%. Overall, there is 45-36% support for the Libyan war in Britain, and that is coming mostly from members of the coalition government parties. Labour support is at 45% against 39% opposition. A war that just a minority of the public supports received an overwhelming 557-13 vote in Parliament.