New polling data surveying Americans’ attitudes towards the United Nations is in. The result: the UN is about three times more popular than Congress!

American voters give the United Nations a 60%/28% favorable/unfavorable rating. The same poll is gives Congress a 22%/67%  favorable/unfavorable score . This is the best showing for the United Nations in three years.

We can guess why American are souring on Congress. But why the positive views towards the United Nations? More likely than not, Americans’ generally warm attitudes toward the UN are driven by voters’ support for the UN’s work in Syria. “I think the general rubric is when people hear the UN in the news and it’s involving the big issues and big problems, it tends to drift the numbers up,” says Republican pollster Bill McInturff.

The survey by polling firms Hart Research and Public Opinion Strategies was conducted between October 5 and 10. This was a few days after the Syria chemical weapons deal fully took shape at the United Nations and was approved by the Security Council. It was also just as chemical weapons inspectors were hitting the ground for the first time.  The data shows that respondents overwhelmingly believe the UN has an important role role to play in overseeing the destruction of chemical weapons in Syria and providing humanitarian aid to people affected by the conflict.

92% were supportive of the UN’s work on chemical weapons and humanitarian relief, and 88% said the USA ought to back the UN in accomplishing these tasks.  To that end, 63% of respondents support the USA paying its dues to the UN on time and in full. 71% of Americans support the USA paying its dues to UN peacekeeping on time and in full. Americans look to the UN to help Syria. And they want their government to help the UN.

The poll speaks to something I’ve long noticed: when Americans see the UN in action, they generally like what they see. Myths about the UN are shattered, and the real work of the UN in supporting international peace and security is much more apparent.  The previous spike in in April 2010 came on the heels of the massive international response to the Haiti earthquake. “In the moments where the ratings spike up it is a product of people seeing the UN engaged in work that Americans deem important,” says Democrat pollster Geoff Garin.

Here’s the full data via the Better World Campaign, which commissioned the poll. It’s worth digging into.

 

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