Poll: Americans Split on Partisan Lines Gauging Turmoil in Mideast

Photograph by Aamir Qureshi/AFP via GettyImages

A veiled Pakistani lawyer tries to beat a U.S. flag with his shoe near the U.S. embassy in the diplomatic enclave during a protest against an anti-Islam film in Islamabad on September 28, 2012.

As with so many other matters, Americans split along partisan lines when it comes to assessing the anti-U.S. turmoil in the Mideast.

That’s according to a poll out this week from the University of Maryland’s Anwar Sadat Chair and the Program on International Policy Attitudes.  The poll asked whether conflict was bound to keep happening “because Islamic religious and social traditions are intolerant and fundamentally incompatible with Western culture?” Or, it posited, was it possible to find common ground because “though there are fanatics in the Islamic world, most people there have needs and wants like those of people anywhere?”

Overall, fifty-three percent of Americans take the “common ground” view, down from 59 percent a year ago, while 42 percent see conflict as inevitable, according to the poll.

Those figures mask the partisan split. Sixty percent of Republicans say violent conflict is “bound to keep happening,” while 30 percent of Democrats take that view. On the alternative viewpoint emphasizing “common ground,” 68 percent of Democrats agree, while 38 percent of Republicans do. Among independents, 51 percent side with the common ground view and 36 percent see conflict.

Even so, the poll found an area of partisan accord: majorities of Democrats and Republicans said they found convincing arguments for cutting aid to Egypt, either to save money or to punish the Egyptian government.

The poll of 737 Americans, taken from Sept. 27 to Oct. 2, has a margin of error of +/- 4.6 percent.

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