Suspected chemical attack in Syria
September 3rd, 2013
04:35 PM ET
12 months ago

Polls: Should U.S. launch strikes against Syria?

Washington (CNN) – Two new national polls indicate the same thing: More Americans oppose rather than favor U.S. military strikes against Syria.

According to an ABC News/Washington Post survey released Tuesday, 36% of the public supports launching missile strikes against the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad if the U.S. has determined that Damascus has used chemical weapons against its own citizens, with nearly six in ten opposing such a move.

The poll indicates that support rises ten points, to 46%, and opposition drops eight points, to 51% if allies such as Great Britain and France participated in missile attacks against Syria.

Last week Britain's Parliament rejected taking part in any military attack on Syria, depriving the president of a normally reliable ally. France however has indicated support for action but that it would not act alone.

The release of the two surveys comes as President Barack Obama seeks congressional authorization for any strike against Syria. Earlier Tuesday the president, meeting with members of Congress about possible military intervention in Syria, said "we have high confidence that Syria used in indiscriminate fashion chemical weapons that killed thousands of people including over 400 children in direct violation of the international norm against using chemical weapons."

As lawmakers mull whether to support a strike against Syria, it's clear the dividing line is "hawk vs. dove" rather than Democrat vs. Republican. The ABC News/Washington Post poll indicates no partisan divide, with 54% of Democrats and 55% of Republicans opposed to unilateral U.S. strikes. But that number rises to 66% among independents. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll conducted last week also suggested little daylight between Democrats and Republicans over whether to attack Syria.

Sen. John McCain, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, and fellow Armed Services member Lindsey Graham said the United States needs to help the rebels reverse battlefield gains by troops loyal to al-Assad. The two Republican senators have called for U.S intervention in Syria for a year and a half.

But the poll suggests little support for arming Syrian rebels, with just 27% supporting such a move by the U.S. and its allies and seven in ten opposed.

The ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted Wednesday through Sunday, both before and after Obama called on Congress to vote on authorizing military action against Syria.

A Pew Research Center poll, which was conducted Thursday through Sunday, also indicates little support for any military strike, with 29% in favor of such a move, 48% opposed and nearly one in four unsure. As with the other surveys, there's little partisan divide between Democrats and Republicans on this question. But the Pew poll indicates a gender gap, with men twice as likely as women to favor military airstrikes.

The Pew poll spells out why many Americans are opposed to action against Syria.

"Three-quarters believe that U.S. airstrikes in Syria are likely to create a backlash against the United States and its allies in the region and 61% think it would be likely to lead to a long-term U.S. military commitment there," says a release by Pew Research. "Meanwhile, just 33% believe airstrikes are likely to be effective in discouraging the use of chemical weapons."

Just 32% of those questioned in the Pew poll say that the president has clearly explained why the U.S. should launch strikes against Damascus, with nearly half saying Obama hasn't been clear enough and one in five unsure. On this question there is a partisan divide, with more than half of Democrats but just 19% of Republicans saying the president has clearly made his case.

The Pew Research Center poll was conducted August 29-September 1, with 1,000 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.

The ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted August 28-September 1, with 1,012 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points


Filed under: Congress • Polls • Syria
soundoff (104 Responses)
  1. O'drama ya Mama

    How can you ask everyday Americans about this when we dont even have all the information?

    September 3, 2013 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  2. Hawke

    Good question, O'rama ya Mama! I am an ordinary citizen who keeps up with world events through CNN, NPR & ABC news so how could I be expected to be able to make a decision as to whether or not we should use military strikes against Syria? Silly, meaningless survey.

    September 3, 2013 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  3. otlset

    It seems the American people have a lot more sense than the dithering bungler in the White House.

    September 3, 2013 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  4. Jules

    Anyone in Congress who votes no should not run for reelection on being a friend to Israel. A no vote is a vote saying it is ok for governments to gas their citizens. The majority of Americans do not get actual news from any source. I am astonished when trying to talk about current events and people do not know what is going on, never mind what side of anything they say they are on.

    September 3, 2013 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  5. sandi

    stop it stop it why do we have to worry what they think of us,,they really know us don't strike something not right about this wait see,silence is golden

    September 3, 2013 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  6. Ronzilla

    II don't see launching an attack against Syria is a good idea. I believe there are other alternatives. Especially, having other arab countries involved. I believe the Al-Qaeda forces are at work to hurt/kill Syrian's and to create a war especially with IIsrael. Each time a middle east conflict occurs, the world is placed closer to armageddon.

    September 3, 2013 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  7. Silence DoGood

    O'drama ya Mama
    "How can you ask everyday Americans about this when we dont even have all the information?"

    Based on Obama's past Hawk approach (killing 1000's to date by bomb drone – mostly innocents), I certainly have every right to say "Mr. President show restraint with the US military might."

    If our president if off again planning to kill in our name – we have a duty to speak up.

    September 3, 2013 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  8. Rick McDaniel

    Most Americans know.......it is a waste of money that will accomplish absolutely NOTHING!

    September 3, 2013 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  9. imcrusades

    As an American citizen, lover of peace, and Orthodox Christian (whose mother church and her Christian presence in the Middle East is at risk of extermination), I'm frustrated and saddened by my country's involvement in the Syrian crisis and I pray to God that we do not start bombing. My church's hierarch, Metropolitan Philip, just issued the following appeal to our North American archdiocese, urging us to vote NO to any unilateral military action by the United States. He also asked us to help spread the word to our friends and families, which is why I'm appealing to you today. No matter your religious background, please consider contacting your representative on this important matter and keep the peace-loving people of Syria (including Christians, Jews and Muslims) in your prayers. Here's the appeal:

    "I write to you today as our president and United States Congress contemplate military action against Syria. As those of us with deep roots in that land already know, more bombs and destabilization of the country will only lead to further bloodshed and devastation. In my opinion, based on a lifetime of knowledge in that area of the world, it serves neither the interest of the United States, nor the Syrian people (or the people of the Middle East at large for that matter) to bomb and further destabilize the country. Extremists groups such as Al-Qaeda are waiting in the wings to prey on any weakness in the Syrian government and infrastructure. The results of such a bombing would be yet another step in the extermination of our Christian presence in the Middle East, a presence that dates to the dawn of Christianity. Our Church has already suffered greatly and has new martyrs waiting to be glorified –we do not need any more! Therefore, I urge all of you during the next few days to contact your respective senators and congress people to urge them to vote NO to any unilateral military action by the United States. Time is of the essence so please distribute this email to everyone you know as quickly as possible and share this message on your Facebook and other mass media sites."

    September 3, 2013 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  10. griffbos

    sorry folks but the US should not sit quietly by as Syria uses chemical weapons, Obama is asking for the ok to use no boots down force this means airstikes, sending aid to rebels, but no US personel on the ground, are we to turn a blind eye to people in need?

    September 3, 2013 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  11. we're broke. don't you get it?

    With the nation in debt 16 Trillion and countng we do not have the funds to mobilize a sustained mission and launching a few missles will accomplish nothing. Now we know the price paid for running (by far) the largest deficit ever seen by an administration over the last 5 years. We pawned our moral compass in the process.

    I sure hope that the clowns we have in office in this country understand this.

    September 3, 2013 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  12. Named inane Richardson

    No. I do not think our country should get involved in any way.

    September 3, 2013 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  13. Damian

    American people is waking up. No solution came ever from an armed conflict, war is just a huge business for politicians and their friends. Check the facts.

    September 3, 2013 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  14. Sonny

    @griffboss..you think "no boots on the ground" means no repercussions for US citizens? Also, it seems its ok to bomb, shoot, stab, and torture people, but not kill them with chemical weapons? If you say no to that, then there is NO difference between Syria and Iraq other than the lies that we're told to get US there.

    September 3, 2013 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  15. Not our fight.

    Not our Fight.
    There is no clear defined goal – so success is impossible to determine.
    Obama needs a distraction from the massive failure that his administration is - and war is such a massive distraction.
    There are no vital American interest threatened by the lunacy going on over there.
    We don't even know ho it is we will be helping

    September 3, 2013 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  16. Martha

    It is a terrible tragedy- the use of chemical weapons in Syria. That being said, I don't think a strike is the right way of dealing with the matter. As Gandhi said- an eye for an eye and the whole world will be blind.

    The British have chosen for now to not approve a strike. This was based on the fact that the evidence as to who used the chemical weapons is circumstantial. I realize our Government is telling us this is not Iraq. But are they sure about who used the chemical weapons?

    What happened to diplomacy? What about helping those who were injured in the attack or those who have fled their country with humanitarian aide? This would make more sense than a military strike which would only cause more death and destruction.

    It would build bridges instead of burning them down.

    September 3, 2013 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  17. Tom Pearson

    The USA needs to stay out of a conflict with Syria. Why does the USA have to get involved in this matter?. It's time other countries take on these problems. If Obama wants support on this matter it's other nations that he needs to convince to solve this problem and not Congress. We need to mind our own business and solve problems at home.

    September 3, 2013 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  18. gary

    Why should we. Look at the Korean,Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan. Look what those conflicts gave us. Death and so many with with life long wounds. They'll. just use us then attack. I say NO!!

    September 3, 2013 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  19. Dode

    Tree things : First, it's not our fight. Let them fight it out, they are all anti US and Anti West. Second : A strike against the Assad Regime only benefits Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood. Third : It is only a National Interest if they "threaten Israel".

    John Kerry is full of "bluster", always has been. Mc Cain and Graham are War Lords wanting to "force" their beliefs on every other Country in the World. We "are not" the Worlds Dictator.

    September 3, 2013 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  20. GonzoinHouston

    It was OK when Saddam gassed Iranians
    It was OK when Saddam gassed his own people
    But it's not OK this time. I think.

    I have no issue with a one-time limited strike against the regime. We don't want to win this war, just keep him from using gas again. The problem is that this is the slipperiest of slippery slopes.

    September 3, 2013 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  21. Dave rawn

    As a CAnadian citizen I am very disappointed at our governments wishy washy support for President Obamas stance
    Concerning Syrian situation
    In any instance where use of chemical warfare is obvious we must !! STand against it

    September 3, 2013 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  22. steve

    These meetings w/Congress are a SHAM.President Obama has by-passed Congress numerous times. Why go to the Congress ? The British had a vote and it was done. What is President Obama hiding , and hopes to sneak by the Congress, and enact to law,or a scandal he wants to avoid.

    September 3, 2013 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  23. bob

    griffbos:"...sorry folks but the US should not sit quietly by as Syria uses chemical weapons,..."

    The problem is, it's the rebels that used chemical weapons.

    September 3, 2013 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  24. Sharon

    Syria is fighting a civil war. Vote NO to the US military involvement. Check out war crimes in the US Civil War. Americans killed in Civil War 618,000
    World War II 405,000
    World War I 112,000
    If France or another country had gotten involved in our Civil War, it would still be going on!
    US Stay Out of Syria by air or sea or land!

    September 3, 2013 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  25. shane

    griffbos they said the SAME THING back before we went into Kuwait! There is a tape circulating today of Bush 1 saying we would bomb only. Then that war led to another and another etc etc

    September 3, 2013 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
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