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Military Intervention and Public Opinion

YouGov’s survey on foreign policy contained one discouraging finding (question 26): 53% of all respondents said that the next president should be “more willing” than or “equally willing” as Obama to use military force. Among Republicans, that figure rises to 68%, and 55% of Republicans favor the “more willing” option. Just 19% of Republicans think that the next president should be less willing than Obama to use force, while 26% of independents and 35% of Democrats give the same response. There is virtually no constituency among Democrats for a more hawkish foreign policy (just 8% of them answered “more willing”), but there is broader Democratic support for Obama’s level of interventionism (44%). There is a substantial difference between younger and older respondents on this question. Americans over 45 are much more likely to say that the next president should be more willing to use force. More than a third of respondents 45-64 and 65+ chose that option. A large majority of younger Americans has no interest in this. Less than a fifth of respondents under 30 (17%) and 30-44 (14%) gave the same response.

The good news is that there is little support overall for a more aggressive foreign policy than the one the U.S. currently has. Just 27% overall want the next president to be more willing to employ force than Obama has been. There is not much popular support for increased interventionism, and among younger cohorts there is even less support. The bad news is that Obama has used force quite often, and there is still far too much acceptance of a foreign policy as aggressive as the one that we have.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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