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?
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?
|Live with father in Cuba||63%||59%|
|Live with relatives in U.S.||25%||27%|
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?
| ||Live with relatives in U.S||Live with father in Cuba|
|March 30 -April 2||31%||56%|
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:
Handling of Elian Gonzalez situation from April 22 poll
|Janet Reno ||47%||43%|
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|
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?
|Elian Gonzalez' Miami relatives|
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
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?
|Some amount of force||35%|
|Some, but not the amount used||35%|
|No force justified||24%|
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?
|When they did||15%|
|Not at all||16%|
Are you, personally, for or against re-establishing U.S. diplomatic relations with Cuba?
In terms of the news today, have you, yourself, happened to see any of the television coverage today concerning Elian Gonzalez?
(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?
News footage of Elian Gonzalez being removed from the house|
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?
News footage of Elian Gonzalez being reunited with his Father|
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?
White House Corres-
pondent Kelly Wallace examines the political fallout from the Elian Gonzalez case.