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Latest U.S. Poll Shows U.N. in Favourable Light

UNITED NATIONS, Jan 16 2013 (IPS) - The majority of registered U.S. voters have favourable opinions of the U.N., according to polling data released  by the Better World Campaign (BWC).

The data also gauged U.S. citizens’ concerns of specific international issues, ranking global economy and trade as most important, followed by Iran and North Korea’s nuclear development.

“The poll results are designed to help guide [new U.S.] policymakers in terms of tackling these important challenges,” said Peter Yeo, executive director of BWC, an organization that works to strengthen U.S.-U.N. relations.

“Eight in 10 voters believe that it is in the best interest of the United States to continue to actively participate in the U.N. system,” he added.   The data comes from a national telephone survey of 900 registered voters conducted in 2013 between Jan 6 and Jan 9 by Public Opinion Strategies and Hart Research Associates, on behalf of BWC.

“We’ve been tracking the U.N. favourable-rating over time,” said Bill McInturff, partner and co-founder of Public Opinion Strategies, who conducts these surveys biannually. “The U.N. continues to be a majority-favourable institution.”

The ratio of favourable to unfavourable opinions is usually 2 to 1, explained McInturff. The most recent survey showed 57 percent favourable, 28 percent unfavourable, and 12 percent neutral.  Demographic findings are also very consistent, he added. In the U.S., more women support the U.N. than men, more democrats than republicans, and more young people than old.

Favourability opinions also tend to reflect international headlines, explained McInturff. For example, favourability dropped slightly in October when President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran associated himself with the U.N. during his General Assembly speech.

“This is a compliment to the American electorate,” said McInturff. “They do see and pay attention, and at the margins, this stuff has consequences.”

Geoff Garin, President of Hart Research Associates, said, “To us, the bottom line, and where the rubber hits the road, is this question of, ‘Is it important for the United States to maintain and play an active role in the United Nations?’” (According to the poll, 83 percent said yes and 13 percent said no.)

“At the end of the day, whatever qualms people have, Americans always want the United States to have a seat at the table, an opportunity to play a leadership role – the opportunity to have the United Nations help the United States achieve the international objectives so we’re not carrying the burden alone,” he added.

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