Voters back Trump's handling of Syria air strikes, North Korea: poll

Voters back Trump's handling of Syria air strikes, North Korea: poll
© Greg Nash
Voters support the United States’s recent military action in Syria and the Trump administration's efforts to engage with North Korea, according to new data from a Harvard CAPS/Harris Poll.
 
President TrumpDonald John TrumpNASA exec leading moon mission quits weeks after appointment The Hill's Morning Report — After contentious week, Trump heads for Japan Frustration boils over with Senate's 'legislative graveyard' MORE’s foreign policy plan related to both countries have been in the spotlight this month, after he approved a retaliatory air strike in Syria meant as a deterrent against the use of chemical weapons, and as top U.S. officials met with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un to work on a potential meeting between the two heads of state. 
 
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Almost two-thirds of registered voters — including majorities across gender, all age groups and ethnicities except for black voters — support Trump’s air strikes. 
 
A full 57 percent of voters also believe America should have a policy of striking Syria every time it launches a chemical weapons attack, and 53 percent said that America should get involved even if it increases the probability of a confrontation with Russia.
 
But 54 percent of people polled believe that America should focus on battling terrorists in Syria instead of increasing involvement in the country on humanitarian grounds. 
 
And even while there is support for the mission, an overwhelming 72 percent of registered voters want the Trump administration to obtain congressional approval before any strike. 
 
That was a major sticking point between Trump and mostly Democratic lawmakers, who sparred over whether Trump had the authority to approve the strikes. 
 
Voters are also supportive of the diplomatic push with North Korea, as 69 percent approve of President Trump’s decision to meet with North Korea’s Kim. Fifty-six percent of voters also back how the U.S. government “is handling North Korea,” although when the question is asked as a referendum on how Trump is handling the country, the optimism shrinks to 48 percent. 
 
Then-CIA Director Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoOvernight Defense: Details on Senate's 0B defense bill | Bill rejects Trump plan to skirt budget caps | Backfills money for border wall | Defense chief says more troops could head to Mideast Trump defense chief: US may send more troops to Middle East amid Iran tensions Pompeo slams 'unconscionable' release of 'American Taliban' MORE, who was confirmed for the vacant secretary of State post on Thursday, visited the closed-off nation over Easter weekend for a secret meeting with Kim that wasn't publicized until weeks later. Trump has exuded more optimism about his chances of striking a deal with North Korea than he did earlier in his presidency, when he blasted Kim with the nickname "Little Rocket Man." 
 
But even as there is support for a meeting, voters aren’t clear about whether it will ultimately be worth the trouble — they’re split on whether the meeting gives North Korea a realistic pathway to denuclearization or if it’s “just a diplomatic show that will not lead to anything.” 
 
And they’re split on the ultimate outcome of the negotiations — 35 percent say a combination of diplomacy and sanctions will “get North Korea to back down,” 25 percent think Trump will successfully make a deal with Kim, 24 percent believe the nation will successfully obtain nuclear weapons, and 16 percent believe war will be the ultimate outcome.  
 
Americans are also not eager for a war with North Korea if diplomacy fails, with six-in-ten voters opposing air strikes on the country’s nuclear facilities. 
 
Mark Penn, the co-director of the Harvard CAPS/Harris Poll, told The Hill that he believes that the conditions are ripe for a successful diplomatic resolution in North Korea, should one occur, to boost Trump’s approval rating.
 
“The voters overwhelming support the action against Syria and approve of meeting with the North Korean leader. They continue to oppose any military strikes against North Korea but support for Trump’s policies there is growing,” he said. 
 
“[Trump’s favorability] has stabilized and could see upside if he has success with North Korea or other areas.”
 
The Harvard CAPS/Harris Poll online survey of 1,549 registered voters was conducted April 22-24. The partisan breakdown is 37 percent Democrat, 32 percent Republican, 29 percent independent and 4 percent other.
 
The Harvard CAPS/Harris Poll is a collaboration of the Center for American Political Studies at Harvard University and The Harris Poll. The Hill will be working with Harvard/Harris Poll throughout 2018. 
 
Full poll results will be posted online later this week. The Harvard CAPS/Harris Poll survey is an online sample drawn from the Harris Panel and weighted to reflect known demographics. As a representative online sample, it does not report a probability confidence interval.