Many People Unsure of Changes in Middle East; Only A Few Think They Will Help U.S.

    New York, N.Y. – March 7, 2011 – A new BBC World News America/Harris Poll finds that large majorities of Americans think that the ongoing anti-government demonstrations in countries in the Middle East will result in the unseating of additional leaders in the region (84%) with almost half saying this outcome is very likely (47%). Few Americans think that it is unlikely additional leaders in the Middle East will be unseated (6%); one in ten are not at all sure (11%).

    These are some of the findings of a new BBC World News America/Harris Poll of 2,049 U.S. adults surveyed online between February 28 and March 2, 2011 by Harris Interactive.

    Following the successful ousting of long-time leaders in Tunisia and Egypt, when asked, most Americans say that they believe additional leaders in the Middle East will be ousted by their people. However, the extent to which Americans say this varies somewhat across demographic groups. For example:

    • Men (88%) are more likely than women (80%) to believe more Middle Eastern leaders will be unseated, with over half of men saying this outcome is very likely (53%) compared to just two in five women who do (42%);
    • Americans with more education are more likely to say the unseating of additional leaders will be the result of the ongoing demonstrations in the Middle East – 91% of those who have a college degree say this, compared to 87% of those who have attended but not graduated from college and just over three quarters of those who have not attended any college (77%); and
    • Older Americans are more likely than those younger to say this outcome is likely – 90% of those 55 years and older say that additional leaders will be unseated (55% saying this is very likely) compared to 84% of those 45-54, 81% of those 35-44 and just 77% of those 18-34 who say the same.

    While it is clear that Americans think change is in process in the Middle East, Americans are not clear whether the change will be good or bad for the U.S. When asked if some of the change in leadership in the Middle East as a result of recent popular uprisings will help or hinder the United States’ relationship with the various Middle Eastern countries, only 15% of Americans say the change will help relations, a quarter say the changes will hinder relations (25%), 22% say it will neither help nor hinder relations, and 38% are not sure what the result will be.

    Older Americans display somewhat different perspectives on this than do those younger. While between 20% and 26% of all age groups say that the change in leadership in the Middle East will neither help nor hinder U.S. relationships in the area, younger Americans are somewhat more likely to say that the changes will help relationships-22% of those 18-34 say this compared to 12% of those 55 and older- and older Americans are more likely to say that it will hinder relations-almost a third of those 55 and older say so (32%) compared to just 16% of those 18-34 who agree.

    So What?

    Americans think more change is coming in the Middle East. There are, however, differences – particularly by age – in what Americans think is likely, and what they think the result of any potential change will be. Younger Americans seem to have a more optimistic view, believing that the changes will help U.S. relations in the region, while older Americans, who may remember other government overthrows including in Iran, Afghanistan, Cuba and Iraq, have a more skeptical view. While many people may be glad to see dictators fall, they are not at all sure if it will be good for the United States.

     

    TABLE 1

    LIKELIHOOD OF UNSEATING ADDITIONAL LEADERS IN MIDDLE EAST

    Recently there were large-scale anti-government demonstrations by people in Tunisia and Egypt, both of which resulted in the ousting of a long-time seated government. More recently, there have been anti-government demonstrations in other countries in the Middle East. How likely do you think it is that these demonstrations will result in the unseating of additional leaders in the Middle East?

    Base: All U.S. adults

    Total

    Gender

    Education

    Age

    Male

    Female

    H.S. or less

    Some college

    College grad +

    18-34

    35-44

    45-54

    55+

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Likely (NET)

    84

    88

    80

    77

    87

    91

    77

    81

    84

    90

    Very likely

    47

    53

    42

    40

    51

    54

    39

    42

    51

    55

    Somewhat likely

    36

    35

    38

    36

    36

    36

    39

    39

    33

    35

    Not likely (NET)

    6

    6

    6

    7

    5

    5

    7

    7

    4

    4

    Not very likely

    5

    5

    5

    5

    5

    4

    6

    5

    4

    4

    Not at all likely

    1

    1

    1

    1

     

     

    1

    2

     

     

    Not at all sure

    11

    7

    15

    17

    8

    5

    15

    12

    12

    6

    Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding; indicates less than .05%

     

    TABLE 2

    HOW THE UPRISINGS WILL AFFECT U.S. RELATIONS WITH MIDDLE EAST COUNTRIES

    Do you think that the change in some of the leadership in the Middle East as a result of the recent popular uprisings will help or hinder the United States’ relationship with the various Middle East countries?

    Base: All U.S. adults

    Total

    Education

    Age

    H.S. or less

    Some college

    College grad +

    18-34

    35-44

    45-54

    55+

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Help

    15

    11

    18

    20

    22

    11

    14

    12

    Neither help nor hinder

    22

    22

    20

    23

    20

    26

    21

    21

    Hinder

    25

    21

    30

    26

    16

    26

    25

    32

    Not at all sure

    38

    47

    31

    31

    42

    37

    40

    34

    Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding

     

    Methodology

    This BBC World News America/Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between February 28 and March 2, 2011 among 2,049 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Where appropriate, this data were also weighted to reflect the composition of the adult online population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

    All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words margin of error as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

    Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

    These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

    The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

    The Harris Poll® #32, March 7, 2011

    By Samantha Braverman, Senior Project Researcher, Harris Interactive

     

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