Elon University Poll finds support for Iraqi military strikes, lottery referendum

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Most North Carolinians support military strikes against Iraq with a coalition of allies, while a large majority believe voters should decide the fate of a state lottery in a referendum.

Those are among the findings of a new Elon University Poll, conducted Sept. 16-19 by the Elon Institute for Politics and Public Affairs. The poll sampled the opinions of 719 adults in the state and has a margin of error of ± 3.7 percent.

Seventy percent of those polled support the use of military force against Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein from office. Of those who support the use of force, 53 percent believe the United States should build a coalition of allies before launching attacks, and 47 percent believe the U.S. should have support from the United Nations. Thirty-two percent believe the U.S. should strike even if the U.N. does not support such attacks.

“While a significant percentage of those surveyed support using force against Saddam Hussein, that support comes with conditions,” says Tim Vercellotti, associate director of the Elon University Poll. “Few people favor attacking now, before the United States has at least sought the support of the U.N. and America’s allies, and there is strong sentiment for attacking only with allied support.”

The poll also found support for a state lottery in North Carolina remains consistent, despite a vote in the state House earlier this week that killed a voter referendum on the matter. Eighty-five percent of North Carolinians thought voters should be allowed to decide the fate of a lottery with a referendum, while support for a lottery remains steady at 63 percent.

“Support for a lottery referendum vote has been strong for nearly a year,” says Sharon Spray, director of the Elon University Poll. “The rejection of a referendum on a state lottery may come back to haunt members of the state legislature in the November elections.”

Approval ratings for Governor Mike Easley dropped slightly from an Elon University Poll in April 2002. Forty-one percent of North Carolinians approve of Easley’s job performance, compared with 49 percent in April. In the latest poll, 27 percent disapprove of Easley’s performance, up from 20 percent in April.

“Governor Easley’s failure to secure a referendum on a lottery may well be having an impact on how citizens perceive his leadership,” Spray says. “There is growing unrest over the extended length of time it has taken to resolve the state budget.”

Support for a presidential bid by U.S. Senator John Edwards appears to be losing momentum with voters, as well. Although Edwards’ approval ratings remain steady at 43 percent, only 31 percent support his candidacy for president. That figure is down from 36 percent in April.

The poll asked voters in the Sept. 10 primary election to list the issues that were most important to them in their decision. Results are listed in the chart below:

This poll is the thirteenth conducted by the Elon Institute for Politics and Public Affairs since it was established in September 2000. The non-partisan Elon Poll conducts frequent statewide scientific telephone polls on issues of importance to North Carolinians. The poll results are shared with media, citizens and researchers to facilitate representative democracy and public policy making through the better understanding of the opinions and needs of North Carolina citizens.

The Elon Poll is conducted by students who work under the direction of faculty members in the political science department. A computerized polling center located on campus is equipped with sophisticated statistical software and 27 telephone polling stations.