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War With Iran: What Do Americans Think?

As tensions between Israel and Iran have grown in the past few weeks over the latter’s nuclear ambitions, the press has been asking how the U.S. might react to Israeli military action—or whether the U.S. might itself get involved. How do Americans feel about different military scenarios vis-à-vis Iran?

According to a study from Pew Research released yesterday, Americans might be more supportive of war with Iran than you might expect. Of the 1,501 respondents, 58 percent felt that it was more important to “[p]revent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, even if it means taking military action,” than it was to avoid a military conflict, while 30 percent felt that military action was a step too far. But Americans were less supportive of a hypothetical strike initiated by Israel. When asked whether the U.S. should support Israel if it were to attack Iran, only 39 percent said yes. The majority, 51 percent, felt that the U.S. should stay neutral. If these numbers are surprising to you, keep in mind that they’ve hardly changed since a similar Pew study in 2009. That confirms, at least, that the most recent round of drumbeating has done little to change public sentiment.