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. JWard

    Sorry – continuing
    It could be argued that it was primarily those who almost always support him were the ones who watched. Again, flawed poll from a scientific standpoint.

    September 10, 2013 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  2. Name Jeff

    I did not watch it and I don't support him, so there.

    September 10, 2013 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  3. orrball

    I heard nothing new he has no plan and no answers. I am not a big Bush fan but he was more of a leader. I hope we last another 3 and a half years! Bet he is at the golf course tomorrow . What a joke.

    September 10, 2013 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  4. Dolores mccumbers

    The greatest country in this world cannot sit by and allow such atrocities on mankind. God help us to stand up for what is right!

    September 10, 2013 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  5. Daniel Medina

    Bill Clinton never hesitated when he was confronted with launching missiles. Those poor Women and Children that were victims of a dictator. Where is the commitment to humanity. You need to act swiftly and decissive .

    September 10, 2013 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  6. Cynthia

    "Red Line?" We all learned a lesson in the folly of 'old tomatoes.' He abdicated that ultimatum by throwing it at Congress, then changed his plan, and tossed it to Russia. The worst mistake yet – sending John Kerry. Forget Syria – we will end up at war with Russia.

    Perhaps that's his plan to save the economy. No...it's just nuts all the way around.

    September 10, 2013 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  7. Esaias

    The Democrats are hypocrites. Bush went into Iraq on the basis of WMD and now Obama (who opposed Bush as well as his democratic supporters) now wants to invade Syria on the same basis – WMD, in this case, the chemical WMD sarin.

    September 10, 2013 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  8. MikeinNM

    Crisp, to the point, made sense. If Obama never pushed the issue, there'd be know Russia offer. Two thumbs up.

    September 10, 2013 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  9. roxy

    This administration will do anything to take the heat off the Snowden NSA scandal and continued evidence of bi-partisan corruption throughout the federal government. The longer they can draw this policy quagmire out, the better. Shame on you CNN for having the journalistic integrity of a government mouthpiece.

    September 10, 2013 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  10. Daniel Medina

    America has always protected the innocent and poor.

    September 10, 2013 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  11. hygujb

    Fools the ones that watch this were his followers therefore bias poll. The welfare queens can fight this one for master Obama.

    September 10, 2013 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  12. Mike Trottier

    I'm standing WITH our President.
    I'm more impressed with our President than ever before.
    republicans don't know whether to chit or go blind
    I think he has a great plan,.....republicans look like the IDIOTS,....they don't know which way to go!

    September 10, 2013 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  13. dnokc

    I saw NOTHING new. Certainly nothing that could be cured by "limited action." If you die by gas...or a baseball bat...the outcome is gruesome and equal.

    September 10, 2013 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  14. Concerned Netizen

    Outright Lie. The People Know It.

    September 10, 2013 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  15. Daniel Medina

    Polls dont accomplish anything for the victims.

    September 10, 2013 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  16. Lib

    I believe in the president and Syria is a very difficult decision. I however in great confidence in president Obama

    September 10, 2013 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  17. BeverlyNC

    The President gave an excellent speech with intelligence and a complete well-thought plan for Syria.
    HOWEVER – Wolf Blitzer made a TOTAL fool of himself in his interview with President Obama. It's time for Wolf to go. His show is the most boring show on CNN and his self-assigned importance is laughable. He should have stayed a reporter but he was was not great at that either. Wolf creates drama to inflate himself and it is unprofessional and immature. President Obama almost laughed when Wolf told him to "look into the camera and tell Assad...." Could Wolf have done a worse job for CNN's faltering reputation as a solid news organization? That interview was painful to watch and made me cringe. Wolf was AWFUL

    September 10, 2013 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  18. Mike Trottier

    If they'd tried working with the POTUS,...instead of obstructing everything,....they would of looked much better.
    I can't see them winning another election for a very long time
    I know I wouldn't vote for any of them

    September 10, 2013 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  19. kathy

    He said chemical weapons could not distinguish between soldiers and children...CAN BOMBS???
    Does he think innocent people will not be killed if bombs are dropped? The whole situation has become an embarrassment for our country.

    September 10, 2013 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  20. Maxwell

    The president has make his case to the American people! WAR!

    September 10, 2013 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  21. David

    Wow, your sample is only 7% more democratic than the general public. How fair.

    September 10, 2013 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  22. GD

    Absolute bafoon in the white house!

    He just got schooled by the american people, congress, the internation community, Putin, and al-assad.

    September 10, 2013 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  23. James

    The only way O'bama could possibly impress me and change my opinion of him would be to take out Assad and the majority of the Al Qaeda militants in the first strike. Anything less is only poo.

    September 10, 2013 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  24. Concerned Netizen

    Deciphering the immense degree of double-speak, and abuse / bias of statistics, the heading should not be "6 in 10 back Obama" ... rather it should read, ""6 in 10 back Obama's plan to follow the Russian's much better plan".

    September 10, 2013 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  25. are122

    ....and 22% had no idea where Syria even is.

    September 10, 2013 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12