Asked about the effect on the United States "if the countries of the Middle East become more democratic," respondents said it would be mostly positive by 65 percent to 31 percent. In "the long run," 76 percent saw the trend as positive.
A majority, 57 percent, also said they "would want to see a country become more democratic even if this resulted in the country being more likely to oppose U.S. policies."
Americans are less confident of the outcome of the "Arab awakening," however. Only 51 percent expect more democracy to prevail, while 47 percent doubt it. Republicans are pessimistic, but Democrats optimistic.
More, 45 percent, see the revolts as mostly "about ordinary people seeking freedom and democracy" than "about Islamist groups seeking political power" (15 percent).
The poll of 802 Americans was conducted by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland April 1-5 with a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.
Its release was timed to the U.S.-Islamic World Forum, which opens Tuesday in Washington, D.C., sponsored by the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings and the Foreign Ministry of Qatar.