CNN Instant Poll: Did Obama move the needle on Syria?
September 10th, 2013
10:36 PM ET
12 months ago

CNN Instant Poll: Did Obama move the needle on Syria?

Washington (CNN) – A majority of Americans who watched President Barack Obama's prime time address to the nation on Tuesday said they favor the approach to Syria that the president spelled out in his speech, according to an instant poll.

But an exclusive CNN/ORC International survey of speech-watchers conducted immediately after the conclusion of Obama's address also indicates that those who tuned into the address were split on whether the president made the case for military action against Syria.

Sixty percent of those questioned said it was not in the national interests of the U.S. to be involved in the bloody two year old Syrian civil war, and more than half said the speech did not change their confidence in the president's leadership on military and international issues.

According to the poll, 61% said they support the president's position on Syria, with 37% saying they oppose his response to the Syrian government's alleged use of chemical weapons against its own citizens.

The president said in his speech that he's asked congressional leaders "to postpone a vote to authorize the use of force" against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's military while diplomatic efforts to address the crisis continue. "It's too early to tell whether this offer will succeed, and any agreement must verify that the Assad regime keeps its commitments," Obama said. "But this initiative has the potential to remove the threat of chemical weapons without the use of force."

The poll indicates that nearly two-thirds of those who watched the speech think that the situation in Syria is likely to be resolved through diplomatic efforts, with 35% disagreeing.

But Obama said that he's ordered the U.S. military "to maintain their current posture to keep the pressure on Assad, and to be in a position to respond if diplomacy fails."

According to the poll, those who watched the president were divided on whether Obama made a convincing case in his speech for U.S. military action in Syria, with 47% saying he did and 50% saying he didn't.

The survey indicates that the speech didn't move the needle very much on whether U.S. air strikes against Syria would achieve significant goals for the U.S. Thirty percent of speech-watchers questioned before the address said yes. That number edged up to 36% following the address. And 39% said it was in the national interests of the U.S. to be involved in the conflict in Syria, edging up from 30% before the speech. Sixty percent said it was not in the national interests to get involved, down just five points from before the speech.

Fifty-two percent said following the speech that they were more confident of the president's leadership on military and international issues, with 16% saying they were less confident. But 52% said the speech did not change their opinion.

The sample of speech-watchers in the poll was 37% Democrats, 20% Republicans, and 43% independents. CNN's best estimate of the number of Democrats in the voting-age population as a whole indicates that the sample is about seven percentage points more Democratic than the general public.

The CNN poll was conducted immediately after the speech over the phone by ORC International with 361 adult Americans who watched the address. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus five percentage points.

soundoff (288 Responses)
  1. M'lynn

    There was a speech?

    September 10, 2013 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  2. Anonymous

    6 out of 10 Sheep would follow their leader over a cliff...

    September 10, 2013 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  3. Dennis

    Only Obama network news would lie to protect their messia Obomber

    September 10, 2013 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  4. Libby

    Classic decision by indecision.

    September 10, 2013 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  5. Beverly

    Not a very big poll. I still oppose any military action in Syria. It is not our problem. Pot – Kettle. He allegedly used sarin gas . . . we used the chemical reaction to vaporize entire cities. He who is without sin . . .If Assad's people are tired of his presidency, they need to oust him.

    September 10, 2013 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  6. bob

    President is a populist for populists sake. He is more worried about his reputation and just giving out money so everyone likes him. It is scary that he is our President.

    September 10, 2013 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  7. KM ConwellDoyleName

    U S should leave Syria alone. Continue diplomacy

    September 10, 2013 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  8. mikeymo74

    While I think there will be those who will still try to play politics with this, I believe we have ended up in the best possible solution if Syria does follow through. While it is natural to be skeptical, we can only hope for the best.

    September 10, 2013 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  9. greyhat63

    Back him on what??????? What on earth did he exactly say?????? Wake up!

    September 10, 2013 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  10. Char Hinners

    I was very happy with the content, tone and tenor of the President's speech tonight and it will be a positive force, even for humanitarian aid!!!

    September 10, 2013 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  11. ST

    We all like diplomacy to take the place, BUT it will work swiftly and give the anticipated result, if people will back the President to act incase it doesn't. He must have that support in hand already while diplomacy is going on.

    September 10, 2013 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  12. Chicago

    I underestimated Obama's power and influence. He has Democrats beating the war drums. Where was this version of Obama a few years ago? Guess there were not enough scandals that needed brusing under the rug.

    September 10, 2013 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  13. B0b

    It seems reasonable that we wait and see what happens with this new, Russian backed, plan. If it works we lose nothing and if it fails, we can always go back to the original plan. What do we have to lose and do we care who, or how the idea came up?

    September 10, 2013 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  14. Woman In California

    I will say this, this might be what he's remembered for in his second term so I hope for his sake, he's doing the right thing.

    September 10, 2013 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  15. greyhat63

    Back him up on what????? He gave no real information. No real plan. No real proof.

    September 10, 2013 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  16. Mr. Rocket

    Most people DIDN'T WATCH the speech because they've lost interest in what this man has to say.

    This poll is propaganda.

    September 10, 2013 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  17. Tina

    No to war. !!!!!!!

    September 10, 2013 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  18. brian

    don't you dare!! We need to invest in another war like Carter needs more pills. Go into it, impeachment will begin. Sad close to a fairly good administration.

    September 10, 2013 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  19. Jeke

    Chicken Hawks on the Left unite under Der Leader Barry

    September 10, 2013 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  20. tommy

    Are those 37% voted for Newt Ginrich or Sara Palin or Rush Limbugh listeners?

    September 10, 2013 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  21. The saint

    He is my Hero

    September 10, 2013 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  22. Ryan Ducken

    Bush says to Obama " Ahh I remember when I started my first war." If there is proof that this really was Assad show it. and either way we shouldn't be involved in other countries problems, WE ARE NOT THE WORLDS POLICE!

    September 10, 2013 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  23. The saint

    Congress better pass it. We are going in, this is inevitable

    September 10, 2013 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  24. JWard

    That's a flawed poll. 6/10 WATCHERS "may" back his position, but all nor even a large portion of Americans watched. It could be argued that his general supp

    September 10, 2013 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  25. Quixote

    That 37% who disagree are the ones who would disagree of the president said water is wet. They have no credibility because they oppose everything no matter what it is.

    Tis was actually a terrible situation handled with skill by our presidnet and his team. Really reminds me of Kennedy in 1962.

    September 10, 2013 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
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