CNN Instant Poll: Did Obama move the needle on Syria?
September 10th, 2013
10:36 PM ET
11 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. Rudy NYC

    Fair is Fair

    Going in, I was behind his initial decision. The only question was would he talk me out of it. I'm still behind his initial decision, but that was quite the lackluster effort last night. You can tell he really doesn't favor military action. And that's OK.
    --------------------
    Given what has transpired between the U.S. and Russia since this speech was first scheduled, did you really expect the speech to still be an explanation of why action against Syria is needed? Did you really? ROTFLMAO.

    September 11, 2013 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  2. Mike Trottier

    I trust the POTUS a hell of a lot more than any republican
    I'm sick of the republican BS and obstruction, if they (republicans) had tried, even a little, to work with our President,....America would be a much better off today.
    I Blame the republicans because they refuse to work with our President,........Period!

    September 11, 2013 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  3. William

    Syria is fighting a civil war. Is there a diference between killing civilians with bullets, bombs or gas during a war? The civilians in the war zone die anyway. Klling innocent civilians by "collateral damage" outside a war zone because someone nearby as been accused of being a terrorist seems like a greater crime.

    September 11, 2013 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  4. Tony

    Rudy, I was quoting the article. Tell me the wording is not confusing. 52% said the speech did not change their opinion. Opinion of what? Because the writer did not state a new question, one had to assume that the writer was talking about the same question.

    September 11, 2013 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  5. Terry

    @Mike...the blind following the blind. Love how its obstruction when your opponents don't get in line with your ideas but partisan politics when they do. News for ya Mike "Neither side has your interests in mind!" And no I am neither republican nor democrat nor will I ever be!

    September 11, 2013 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  6. tp

    I am an anti-war person to the core and was not supportive of the President's position of the isolated strikes. After hearing his speech last night, I am more open-minded to the option. I thought the Address was clear, concise and to the point. The President made a very good case for the necessity to send radicals the message the chemical weapons are not acceptable. We cannot be the policemen of the world as was stated but someone has to take the lead in preventing this type of atrocity from continuing. I still believe that we need to get international support an should not act alone. I do not know if the UN is up to this challenge, but we must try to explore the diplomacy approach before entering military actions. I am glad the Congressional vote has been delayed and fully support the position of the elected representatives should have a vote on military actions. This appears to be the only bipartisan vote that I can recall since the President took office. At this point I am against the military action but the threat appears to have had a positive impact and maintaining a united front against the use of chemical weapons is the right thing to keep in mind as we are continuing to weigh our options. I was proud of the President again last night as he made his case.

    September 11, 2013 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  7. Fair is Fair

    Tony

    Rudy, I was quoting the article. Tell me the wording is not confusing. 52% said the speech did not change their opinion. Opinion of what? Because the writer did not state a new question, one had to assume that the writer was talking about the same question.
    -------
    Don't you dare question the political ticker's resident savant. Rudy is right on everything, and since he comments on everything, he's right on everything squared. He'll be the first to tell you, too.

    September 11, 2013 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  8. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    @ Fair is Fair
    Going in, I was behind his initial decision. The only question was would he talk me out of it. I'm still behind his initial decision, but that was quite the lackluster effort last night. You can tell he really doesn't favor military action. And that's OK
    -------------------------------------------------
    I'm trying not to pass out as I type that I actually agree with you on this, INCLUDING the "lackluster" performance.
    He stepped up, he said what he said, and he left. ?!?
    What he briefly said made sense. I could also sense, as you, that he is not the "war" President that some would have him be.
    This situation is tense, it is real, it is volatile and it is taking it's toll on everyone, the President included.
    We cannot remove the threat of military action however reluctant the President and the country may be to employ it because that is what will keep Syria in their new role of compliance.
    (Breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth Fair! lol).

    September 11, 2013 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  9. Jack

    Six out of ten are behind Obama, BS! This is nothing more than CNN propaganda. When it comes to sexual orientation, abortion, welfare, immigration, gun control and political orientation the big liberal media four have their own agenda (and it is not journalism).

    September 11, 2013 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  10. Emmanuel

    I am against any intervention in Syria, if the goal behind the bombing threat was to bring Syria to the negotiating table, then my hat off to Obama. Otherwise, it would be a grave mistake. Assad is not the greatest guy but he is better than Islamic crazies and we know they are the one behind the rebels. When is America going to have a decent foreign policy. We always seem to support the wrong side and that since Vietnam. I am tired of all these tirades about democracy which is often not possible in some parts of the world. Lets be pragmatic and support people who are friendly to us and best serve our interests. One thing in certain, I will not vote favor anyone who supported bombing in Syria.

    September 11, 2013 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  11. dwight

    Mike and who refused to work with Bush and against him...um, the Democrates, even after they by majority in congress approved the wars that followed. Obama has pretty much got what ever he's wanted and when he didn't it was even with a Congress that was largely Democrate in his first term. You can blame Bush all you want to, but we are many years into his second term and he continues to out do Bush in his war effort...is that a drone I hear. Get a clue.

    September 11, 2013 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  12. Jerry

    I for one agree with Obama and Russia remove the chemical weapons and then keep are dam noses out of other country's business

    September 11, 2013 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  13. dwight

    The leader of Syria is fighting against the rebels who love to put the citizens at risk. They load children and women down with bombs and send them in to blow up thier opponent. Is this any better than gas? It is war and war causes casualties, depending on the civilities of the people fighting.
    Obama gave the people what they wanted to hear and thus they agreed with him or rather he agreed with them.
    No boots on the ground to make it sound less like war, but an attack is an attack and if we attack one part in Syria, either all of the people in Syria on both sides of the conflict will unite and fight us or the winning side will fight us with our own weapons. There is no good outcome in fighting a civil war that has been going on for over 300 years where neither side is any good.

    September 11, 2013 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  14. dwight

    Jerry, I afraid you agree with Russia and Syria, not Obama. Obama was backed into the position after putting down a red line and saying that there was no other option but to punish Assad.

    September 11, 2013 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  15. CC

    Americans do NOT want to bomb Syria.

    The fact is, we're broke. We're in debt to half the world. Our soldiers are JUST coming home from our last President's "no boots on the ground" hasty, irresponsible actions. Too many soldiers never made it home. Fathers, sons, mothers, daughters died, and for what? Weapons of mass destruction that were never found? It would be a joke if it were funny. History really does repeat itself. We know we don't have any real proof or threat or real cause to start another war. Yes, it's a tragedy that innocent people were killed in Syria. Sadly holy wars, terrorism and crimes against humanity are happening all over in the world, so why here? why now?

    No boots on the ground? That's exactly what Bush said. When will we learn?

    I fear Obama will lead us right into another war we can't afford, then exit office for the country to spend another 7 years cleaning up.

    September 11, 2013 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  16. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Fair is Fair
    Don't you dare question the political ticker's resident savant. Rudy is right on everything, and since he comments on everything, he's right on everything squared. He'll be the first to tell you, too
    -------------------------------------------------
    Now what was that you said yesterday about "if all you have are personal attacks...", and another one of your infamous claims regarding "ad hominem" comments? And the all time favorite "If all you've got are insults then you've already lost the argument"? (I paraphrased that one but it's okay because you stole it from Rudy anyways).

    You're a prickly, thin-skinned old bird Fair that indulges in dishing out what she can't take.
    But, like my friend Lynda would say, not my problem...

    September 11, 2013 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  17. George Cook

    MOVE the NEEDLE.....or MOVE the RED LINE......I thnk he just Might, Maybe get "BAILED OUT"

    September 11, 2013 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  18. George Cook

    Who thought that Mr Putin would BAIL OUT the USA President....out of the RED LINE BOX?.......The real question is do you TRUST Putin? and how exactly can you make SURE that all Chemical Weapons can be ROUNDED UP and impounded...and exactly "how easy" it is to produce MORE of them....this is a NO WIN ....NO WIN...situation

    September 11, 2013 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  19. NameWm

    I wasent in pole no to another war

    September 11, 2013 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  20. Jerry Okamura

    I did not listen to the speech because nothing he said would have changed my mind. So, I would think that the ones who did listen, were on the fence. If I am right, then the question is, how many people were and are still sitting on the fence? Could they significantly change the current number who are against going to war?

    September 11, 2013 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  21. RJC

    Amazing...

    Another case of We were for it before we were against it!

    Obama drew the line. Then as a political act, he says that he wants to Bomb Syria... then he asks Congress to vote so that he can either use them as an excuse if they went along or he blames them if they would have votes against... THEN a simple question comes up about Syria giving up their nukes and John Kerry basically repeats the question then says it wont work. THEN he comes out and takes credit for the idea.

    This administration is bi-polar, no wonder the world's view and their trust in the United States has sunk lower than whale dung. There is no principle, there is no honesty.

    Obama had his speech spinners working overtime rewriting the speech narrative so he could take credit. The freaking Russians of all people should be given credit for preventing the 'Scarecrow' from bombing Syria.

    September 11, 2013 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  22. kel

    CNN the new Fox

    September 11, 2013 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  23. Fair is Fair

    Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Fair is Fair said
    Don't you dare question the political ticker's resident savant. Rudy is right on everything, and since he comments on everything, he's right on everything squared. He'll be the first to tell you, too
    -----------------
    You're being snippy, and employing ad hominem attacks Fair.
    Don't come here crying when we serve you up some of the same.
    Just saying.
    --------
    I'm dishing back what was sent my way DM4O.

    September 11, 2013 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  24. John

    The only problem with the pole is it doesnt account for those completely against war. The group of people who are not infuenced either way. Many people just dont want to fight. I bet if you remove those people from the equation its probably 70/30 for strikes. My only question is why does the U.S. have to always be the police force. Why cant other countries step up, or an international police force (not the UN) be created. Thats pretty much what this is, trying to knock out some common Syrian criminals. Just a police action.

    September 11, 2013 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  25. southernpatriot

    We have NO BUSINESS getting involved! Where are all the anti war people? Ooh I bet it grinds their grits! LOL

    "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"

    If it had been the other way around, I am sure the headline would have read "Majority of Americans support going to war with Syria". LMAO

    September 11, 2013 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
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