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Poll: Americans split over use of force in Miami raid

Majority favor returning boy to Cuba

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- After 48 hours of discussion and debate, the public is still split right down the middle over whether or not the federal government used too much force in its Saturday morning seizure of Elian Gonzalez, according to a new CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll.

Six in 10 Americans still approve of the government's actions and almost as many say that the government should have physically removed the 6-year-old from the home in Little Havana even earlier in the year than it did.

But nearly a quarter of the public was unsure whether the government used the right amount of force in a Saturday poll taken just hours after the pre-dawn raid, with the rest closely divided.

Now that the public has had time to digest the news and study the dramatic photos of the raid and the subsequent reunion of father and son, there is still no consensus. Forty-six percent say the right amount of force was used, while 45 percent say the government used too much force.

But there is consensus over what is in the best interests of the boy -- six in 10 say he should return to Cuba with his father -- and support for the government's action has not wavered. One reason may be that Americans believe that Elian's Miami relatives would not have turned the 6-year-old over to federal authorities peacefully if they had not been carrying weapons.

Most Americans remain sympathetic toward the Miami relatives but have even more sympathy for the father. More than two-thirds do not want to see Congress investigate Saturday's actions.

The poll is based on interviews with 611 adult Americans conducted April 24, 2000. The margin of error is plus or minus 4 percentage points.

As you may know, federal agents physically removed Elian Gonzalez from the home of his Miami relatives, and have taken him to Washington, D.C., to reunite with his father. Do you approve or disapprove of that action?

 
Now
Saturday
Approve
60%
57%
Disapprove
35%
37%

Which of the following solutions do you think would be in the best interests of the boy -- for Elian Gonzalez to remain in the U.S. to live with relatives who have requested he stay here, or for him to live with his father in Cuba, as his father has requested?

 
Now
Saturday
Live with father in Cuba
63%
59%
Live with relatives in U.S.
25%
27%

 
Live with relatives in U.S
Live with father in Cuba
April 22
59%
27%
April 7-9
60%
31%
March 30 -April 2
31%
56%
February 14-15
36%
55%
January 25-26
33%
60%
December 9-12
45%
45%

From what you know about Saturday's actions, do you think the government agents involved used too much force or about the right amount of force in removing Elian Gonzalez from the Miami home?

 
Now
Saturday
Too much
45%
40%
Right amount
46%
36%
Unsure
8%
23%

Now thinking about the Elian Gonzalez situation overall, since it started last November, do you approve or disapprove of the way each of the following have handled the situation:

 
Approve
Disapprove
Bill Clinton
43%
41%
Janet Reno
47%
43%
Miami relatives
37%
57%

Handling of Elian Gonzalez situation from April 22 poll

 
Approve
Disapprove
Clinton
42%
42%
Reno
45%
46%
Gore
25%
37%
Miami relatives
31%
63%
Bush
28%
27%

Based on what you know and have seen in the news, how do you feel toward each of the following people involved in the Elian Gonzalez situation -- very sympathetic, somewhat sympathetic, somewhat unsympathetic, or very unsympathetic?

Elian Gonzalez' father
 
Now
March
Sympathetic
84%
77%
Unsympathetic
13%
18%

Elian Gonzalez' Miami relatives
 
Now
March
Sympathetic
67%
66%
Unsympathetic
30%
29%

If the authorities who went to the Gonzalez home on Saturday to retrieve Elian Gonzalez had not been carrying weapons, do you believe the Miami relatives would have turned Elian Gonzalez over to the Justice Department or not?

Yes
31%
No
62%

Which comes closer to your view in terms of the way the federal government removed Elian Gonzalez from the home of his Miami relatives on Saturday: (a) the federal government was justified in the amount of force it used; (b) Some amount of force was justified, but not the amount they used; or (c) No amount of force was justified

Some amount of force
35%
Some, but not the amount used
35%
No force justified
24%

Regardless of the amount of force used, when do you think was the appropriate time, if any, to physically remove Elian from the home? In terms of physically removing Elian Gonzalez from the Miami home, Justice should have removed him earlier, should have removed him when they did, should have waited longer before removing him, or should never have removed him?

Earlier
57%
When they did
15%
Later
7%
Not at all
16%

Do you think Congress should or should not hold hearings on the federal government's decision to physically remove Elian Gonzalez from the Miami relatives' home on Saturday morning?

Favor
28%
Oppose
68%

Are you, personally, for or against re-establishing U.S. diplomatic relations with Cuba?

Favor
54%
Oppose
31%

In terms of the news today, have you, yourself, happened to see any of the television coverage today concerning Elian Gonzalez?

Yes
56%
No
44%

(Asked of those who answered yes to previous question) In the news coverage you've seen today, did you happen to see: (a) photos or news footage of Elian Gonzalez being physically removed from the Miami home; or (b) photos or news footage of Elian Gonzalez being reunited with his father?

April 22 News footage of Elian Gonzalez being removed from the house
Yes
42%
No
58%

April 24 News footage of Elian Gonzalez being reunited with his Father
Yes
18%
No
82%

As you may know, the Miami relatives are on their way to Washington, D.C., where they hope to be able to visit with Elian Gonzalez. In your view, should the Miami relatives be allowed to visit with Elian Gonzalez as soon as possible, or not?

Yes
63%
No
31%

A federal court has ordered that Elian Gonzalez must remain in the United States until a court scheduled to hear his case next month reviews his case. Do you agree with that decision that Elian must remain in the U.S. until then, or do you think the father should be able to return to Cuba with Elian before then?

Yes
41%
No
54%

 
VIDEO
VideoWhite House Corres-
pondent Kelly Wallace examines the political fallout from the Elian Gonzalez case.

Windows Media 28K | 80K



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Tuesday, April 25, 2000


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