Voters back Trump on Syria, wary of North Korea action

Voters back Trump on Syria, wary of North Korea action
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A strong majority of voters support President Trump’s missile strike in Syria, but the public would be opposed to similar action in North Korea, a new poll shows.

The latest data from the Harvard-Harris Poll provided exclusively to The Hill finds that nearly two-thirds of voters approve of Trump’s missile strike against the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad, who is accused of using chemical weapons against his own people.

Sixty-six percent of respondents said the military strike was justified, with 60 percent approving of Trump’s handling of the situation.

A plurality, 41 percent, said firing 59 cruise missiles on a Syrian airfield was an appropriate use of force, while 33 percent said it was too much and 26 percent characterized it as not enough.

A strong majority, 68 percent, said the U.S. should take limited military action again to prevent the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

Still, there is no appetite among voters for the U.S. to become further ensconced in the civil war there.

Three-quarters of Americans said U.S. intervention should be limited to enforcing the chemical weapons ban. Only 25 percent said the U.S. should get more deeply involved in the Syrian civil war.

While a majority of voters approve of Trump’s handling of the Syrian strike, most felt differently about the president’s handling of escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula.

Voters are evenly split on whether diplomacy with China will be successful in curbing North Korea’s nuclear program.

But if diplomacy fails, 55 percent would oppose a U.S. strike on nuclear facilities in North Korea. 

“No question that the Syrian raid was seen as a success for President Trump's leadership, but the public is nervous about how he will handle North Korea,” Harvard-Harris Poll co-director Mark Penn said.

Meanwhile, a slim majority of voters — 53 percent — believe Trump has been supporting the policies of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The frenzy around allegations that Trump campaign officials may have colluded with Russian operatives in the 2016 election have subsided some amid Trump’s actions in Syria. Russian forces have been propping up Assad, which has sent relations between Washington and Moscow into a deep freeze.

But an FBI investigation into whether any Trump campaign officials had improper contact with the Russians during the campaign is ongoing.

Here, the public is split along partisan lines.

Fifty-one percent of voters overall don’t believe members of the Trump team coordinated with Russian intelligence to meddle in the outcome of the 2016 election. 

Seventy-eight percent of Republicans say there was no collusion, while 76 percent of Democrats say there was.

Meanwhile, the public is split 50-50 on the question of whether former President Obama national security adviser Susan Rice requested the unmasking of the names of Trump officials in intelligence reports for political purposes.

Seventy percent of Republicans believe Rice’s motives were political. Seventy percent of Democrats said she acted for national security reasons.

The online survey of 2,027 registered voters was conducted April 14–17. The partisan breakdown of those surveyed is 36 percent Democrat, 31 percent Republican, 30 percent independent and 3 percent other. The Harvard-Harris Poll uses a methodology that doesn't produce a traditional margin of error.

The Harvard–Harris Poll survey is a collaboration of the Harvard Center for American Political Studies and The Harris Poll. The Hill will be working with Harvard-Harris throughout 2017.

Full poll results will be posted online later this week.