A new Gallup poll suggests that public support for drone use, while broad, narrows as strikes get closer to home. Perhaps most surprisingly, 13 percent of Americans support the use of drone strikes against U.S. citizens suspected of terrorism on U.S. soil. Of course, it's also the percentage of Americans that approve of the job Congress is doing, so perhaps they're just contrarians. But if not: What's up with so many Americans approving of drone strikes on Americans in America?
Here's how the rest of the poll breaks down. Four types of strikes were presented: strikes against non-U.S. citizens suspected of terrorism on foreign soil; strikes against citizens suspected of terror on foreign soil; strikes against non-citizens in the U.S.; strikes on citizens suspected of terrorism on U.S. soil. As you might expect, support drops as each scenario brings the strikes nearer to the U.S.
Those numbers aren't too far from a similar poll conducted in 2009 among a group for whom the question is much more immediate: residents of Pakistan. That poll, done by Al Jazeera and Gallup Pakistan, indicated that nine percent of Pakistanis approve of drone strikes on their countrymen in Pakistan. Far more Pakistanis expressed no opinion.
Gallup suggests that Senator Rand Paul's recent filibuster against drone strikes put him more in line with Democrats' feelings on the issue than Republicans. Support for each type of strike breaks down as follows by party.
What Paul was filibustering against, though, was strikes against citizens in the U.S. — the least popular option, opposed by nearly 80 percent of voters, including the vast majority of Republicans. Had Paul filibustered against drone strikes against non-citizens overseas, he'd have actually been outside the norm for respondents of any political party.
Gallup also points out a link between how closely people pay attention to news about drone strikes and their support for the practice. The causation isn't clear, though. Republicans are more likely to say they pay close attention to news on the topic, so it's possible that skews the link between support and attentiveness.
The bottom line is this: If you're in a group of eight people, polling suggests that one of them supports a drone strike on a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil. (Something to keep in mind if you're with that group somewhere in America.) Polling also suggests that one of those people thinks Congress is doing a great job. Which of those opinions should be of more concern to you is left to your discretion?
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.