The FINANCIAL — By a narrow 48% to 43% margin, Americans view the U.S. airstrike that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani as the right decision. However, a majority (54%) says the Trump administration’s approach toward Iran has increased the likelihood of a major military conflict between the United States and Iran. Just 17% say the administration’s approach has decreased chances for a major conflict with Iran, while 26% say it has not made much difference.
In assessing the impact of the administration’s policies on U.S. security, 44% say its approach has made the U.S. less safe, while a larger share says either it has made the U.S. safer (28%) or has not made much difference (26%).
The latest national survey by Pew Research Center, conducted Jan. 8-13 on cell phones and landlines among 1,504 adults, finds that only about a quarter of Americans (23%) say they have a great deal of trust in what the Trump administration says on Iran, while another 22% say they trust the administration a fair amount. A 53% majority say they have not too much trust (18%) or no trust at all (35%) in the administration’s statements on Iran.
These views are not substantially different from previous evaluations of President Donald Trump’s personal credibility. For example, about a year ago, 58% of the public said they trusted what Trump says less than what previous presidents said; just 26% said they trusted his statements more than those of his predecessors, while 14% said they trusted his statements about the same as past presidents.
As with public views of virtually all of Trump’s policies and decisions – and Trump himself – opinions about the U.S. airstrike against Iran and its impact are divided along partisan lines.
However, while Republicans overwhelmingly support the decision to conduct the airstrike that killed Soleimani, they express more mixed views of how Trump’s approach toward Iran has affected prospects for war with Iran and U.S. security. By contrast, Democrats largely express negative views of the impact of the airstrike on both the likelihood for conflict with Iran and on U.S. security.
Only about a third of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (34%) say the administration’s approach toward Iran has decreased the likelihood of a major military clash with Iran; 26% say it has increased likelihood of such a conflict, and 37% say it has not made much difference.
A sizable majority of Democrats (81%) say the administration’s approach toward Iran has increased the likelihood of a major military conflict between the U.S. and Iran.
While 56% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say Trump’s approach toward Iran has made the U.S. safer, a much larger majority of Democrats and Democratic leaners (75%) say it has made the U.S. less safe.
However, Republicans and Republican leaners have rallied behind the decision to conduct the airstrike that killed Soleimani: 84% say it was the right decision, while 11% say it was the wrong decision. Democrats view the decision to conduct the airstrike as wrong, but by a less substantial margin (73% to 17%).
Notably, among the roughly one-quarter of Republicans who say the Trump administration’s approach to Iran has raised chances of a military conflict, most (65%) say the decision to conduct the airstrike was the right one. Only about a third of Republicans (31%) who say Trump’s approach has raised the likelihood of a military conflict with Iran say it was the wrong decision.