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. michael Jones

    There were laws set up in the Geneva convention many years ago about the use of chemical weapons against enemy forces, much less against civilians of their own country. As I see it the president is wanting to uphold the the law and stop the use of those same weapons. If this is allowed to who is next?

    September 4, 2013 01:56 am at 1:56 am |
  2. Dave

    After work, my wife went by to check on her ninety year old mother. When she walked into the living room, she saw that she was about a foot in front of the tv watching a world war II documentary, showing American troops. She asked her what she was doing? "I'm looking to see if I see Burke". Burke was her brother who was killed by the Germans seventy years ago! So if you "WARMONGERS" insist that we attack Syria: Then I say to you-Shame on you!

    September 4, 2013 02:40 am at 2:40 am |
  3. Rebecca

    I don't believe the numbers in this poll... online the polls are going closer to 90-95 percent against. It's all in the who of who they poll... are they calling only miltary-industrial complex employees or what? Even then, most are opposed.

    September 4, 2013 03:00 am at 3:00 am |
  4. cgs

    Does anyone doubt that the former senator Obama would be would vehemently against this new war?

    September 4, 2013 03:04 am at 3:04 am |
  5. Rebecca

    The use of chemical weapons is a bit of a red flag. What about the 100k killed "conventionally" or the millions killed all over the world? How is the U.S. morally superior when it voted in the U.N. against this same resolution? What about U.S. use of depleted uranium in the Gulf? This stinks, people, and whining about chemical weapons when millions are killed in other ways is a bit... schizo. So bombing raids are going to kill more... totally schizo.

    September 4, 2013 03:04 am at 3:04 am |
  6. Tracy C

    Although I know that the Syrian people are suffering, I believe that the U.S. should not be the country to take military action for the following reasons:

    1) The Syrian opposition itself has mixed feelings about military action.

    2) The French government wants to intervene militarily but will not act without us. And the French Parliament has not even voted yet on whether to approve such action. If French MPs decide against military intervention, we will be left to take action unilaterally; this will be a huge mistake!!

    3) The world was with us when we went after the Taliban in Afghanistan but turned against us when we invaded Iraq based on a lie! Had we let the IAEA finish its job, it would have proved unnecessary to invade that country but because we did, we will be treading in very dangerous waters although we are obviously sorely needed right now; how sad.

    4) If we make a mistake by accidentally killing innocent women and children, the Muslim world will turn against, and then we’ll have to protect ourselves from Muslims of all nationalities, not just Syrians who want revenge!

    5) The Russians are going to give us grieve and the Iranians are going to attack Israel.

    6) The Saudis want military intervention but I haven’t read anything about how direct their role will be.

    7) Why not let the regional powerhouses of Saudi Arabia and Jordan intervene on behalf of the Syrian people? Surely, it will be better for them to help their fellow Arabs/Muslims. If things go well, then they’ve helped the Syrian people (this will bring relief to all of our hearts) and they'll get their chance to crow. But in all honesty, God forbid, if something goes wrong, we will not be at fault and no one (government or individual) can lay blame at our feet!

    September 4, 2013 03:16 am at 3:16 am |
  7. Marlene Wilkinson

    Americans do not have all the facts, but what can this attack do? There are a lot of countries against,a lot of threats made toward us if we attack. The question I have is not should we attack or not, that I am sure is already decided no matter what the American people want. The Question I have is what countries are going to come and help the American people get their country back? Who is going to rescue us?

    September 4, 2013 03:30 am at 3:30 am |
  8. Anonymous

    how do you sequester government workers because we have way too much debt yet decide to throw money at an attack in syria?

    September 4, 2013 03:41 am at 3:41 am |
  9. Rich

    How fast would obama want to drop missles on russia or china, if those countries used gas on there people. I think not

    September 4, 2013 03:57 am at 3:57 am |
  10. BOB

    and this goverment has never told any lies no boots on the grown this is money and presteage noting more

    September 4, 2013 04:10 am at 4:10 am |
  11. Joe

    When will Americans admit the truth about president Obama? He was raised as a Muslim. Every single one of his interventions in the Middle East have led to the rise of Islamist. Example, Egypt, Libya, and now Syria. He is facilitating the creation of the caliphate. American/western power is or was the only obsticle to this. Now it is being used to allow the enemies of the west/Christians to gain absolute power in the Middle East. Obama does not have America's best interest at his heart. His actions or better yet, the results of his. Actions speak louder than his empty words. He is merely playing lip service to the deaf and the blind who are his ignorant supporters. It's a shame that there is no basic intelligence exam as a requirement for voter registration. But then again, if there was, the democrats would never win another election.

    September 4, 2013 04:16 am at 4:16 am |
  12. Joe

    Will John Kerry vote for this war before he votes against it ? I guess that all depends on wether or not he runs for president again. Also, I'm looking forward to seeing Cindy Sheehan holding anti war protest outside the obamas home.? Yeah right, I better not try holding my breath for that to happen? Typical leftist hyprocracy. The truth is that thousands of people are killed in the name of Islam around the world every year. The west should not be telling people in other parts of the world how to run their countries, anymore than they should be telling us. The real questions here is what do the politicians that support attacking Syria have to gain from such actions, because just as a bank won't do something unless it can profit, so does the politician!

    September 4, 2013 04:33 am at 4:33 am |
  13. adlass

    Stop the hypocrisy. The US dropped tons of chemical weapons on Vietnam and no one was ever held accountable for those human rights abuses.

    September 4, 2013 04:54 am at 4:54 am |
  14. RobS

    The most enthusiastic response I hear for bombing is that the responder doesn't know what is best, and believes that Obama will make the best choice. A pretty weak support for bombing. I have not heard ANY reason given that the bombing will accomplish anything, except to give a few of us the misguided sense that "at least we tried our best". Not a good enough reason for me.

    September 4, 2013 05:01 am at 5:01 am |
  15. Katrina

    No, Stay out of Syria!

    September 4, 2013 05:43 am at 5:43 am |
  16. Deepsea35

    I'm a retired military special forces type. I'm republican. I'm conservative. Most people would immediately label me a gun-crazy war-monger. Guess what? We need to stay OUT of Syria. Nobody elected us as the social services Nazis of the world. Pray for them, hope for them, give charity to them.....but DON'T kick in their door and help them with some killing and destruction. I was the killing/destruction expert for a long time, and I am here to tell you that we are screwing up.

    September 4, 2013 06:29 am at 6:29 am |
  17. AGeek

    griffbos: the "people in need" are the ones trying to kill our troops in Afghanistan and Pakistan – Al-Qeada . So we're supposed to protect them in one country, and hunt them in another? That's a confusing game plan.

    September 4, 2013 06:30 am at 6:30 am |
  18. Brassmaster

    OK so we strike Syria. Hezbollah and other radicals strike Israel in retaliation. Iran gets skin in the game by supporting those who hit Israel. We strike back, Soviets back Syria and Iran. Mideast goes up in flames, spills over to US. Terrorist attacks on our own soil in retaliation. and God forbid, Israel feels threatened to the point they lob one of their tactical nukes. Endgame for all. Or is all that just parinoia ?

    September 4, 2013 06:34 am at 6:34 am |
  19. Jerry

    NO, no and no!!! NO attacks on Syria!!!! If Mr. Obama wants to save faith for his brainless comments; he should start by admitting that his brain was not engaged (as usual) when he made the numerous "red line" comments".

    We (América) are NOT sure who actually used the deathly gas. Who really benefits from América's intervention?! All the groups that want to attack and kill us!

    NO, no and no, AGAIN!!!

    September 4, 2013 06:39 am at 6:39 am |
  20. NoCommentCNN

    So the USA must kill people because Syria killed people and we need to teach Syria that killing is wrong?

    September 4, 2013 06:44 am at 6:44 am |
  21. Donna

    So trolls, chemical killings of citizens is ok? slow genocide is ok?
    Hitler would like this new America

    September 4, 2013 06:53 am at 6:53 am |
  22. tupperhouse

    Detroit is bankrupt let's attack Syria

    September 4, 2013 07:08 am at 7:08 am |
  23. Jake

    I think we should stay out and take care of our own problems. I am sorry if you do not get the picture.

    September 4, 2013 07:09 am at 7:09 am |
  24. jon wilson

    If you saw John Kerry's address on CNN yesterday, the answer is clear.

    September 4, 2013 07:13 am at 7:13 am |
  25. lean6

    As if any citizen's opinion about anything matters anymore. In regards to elections coming up, both sides are safe from political fallout no matter how many people die between now and then.

    September 4, 2013 07:16 am at 7:16 am |
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