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. Mitchell Zoelzer

    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 percents add up to 120%. When posting statistics, it's vital to ensure their accuracy if you want them to be trusted in the future.

    September 10, 2013 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  2. gulf war vet

    first off cnn interview a regular us vet or non vet... we need to stay out of Syria yes post a guard but its there war bad things happen in war face it let a united nations peace keeping force act on this we don't need the cost loss of life we have no creditable interest Obama is the worst thing that could have happened to this country we don't need anymore issues for the next president to fix

    September 10, 2013 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  3. savingdaniel

    67% wanna go to war? Want to provoke Syrians to bomb us back, to have another false flag attack and risk it being a nuke off of South Carolina this time (have you heard about the illegal nuclear missile transfer from a certain American base and a certain Congressman that same day warning South Carolina would be hit with a nuke attack on the coast?) Fake poll. People on foodstamps, ESPECIALLY THE TONS OF FAT LAZY METH ADDICTED ONES DO NOT WANT TO GO TO WAR nor do libertarians and conservatives want to fight for someone who they think was born in Kenya, . "Obama: We're not world's police" hence why u wanna bomb them, yep, you're a narcissist.

    September 10, 2013 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  4. GGM

    You are kidding right??
    "And more than half of those questioned said the speech did not change their confidence in the president's leadership on military and international issues."

    "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."

    Just saying, 52% is more than 1/2. Do you have editors???

    September 10, 2013 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  5. my response

    I support the prez

    September 10, 2013 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  6. Aldo

    Bill Clinton had it right calling Barry an amateur. Most ineffective president in our history voted in twice on what? Experience? White guilt? I like to believe that it was because the choices were even more wretched. This is what American politics has evovled to, the "best" of a bum lot, not one of them you would trust with your wallet, and they are running the country...

    September 10, 2013 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  7. Stephen McCormick

    That's a really close poll with a wide Independent margin. That's the way we should be represented, but we're not. I think it really sucks he's going to Congress, because I have no faith in them to get anything done, but I think it was a smart move on behalf of The President.

    September 10, 2013 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  8. Subramanian Venkatraman

    What really happened in this Syrian episode? It 'looked' as though the President misspoke right from the beginning when he announced the 'Red Line'. He 'seemed' to be giving Syria a long rope. It seemed to be in his nature. Abhorring war. "We shall wait till you use poison gas." GOP was clamoring for immediate action. Reverting to good old Bush days. For weeks the President seemed to be wavering and confused. Should he or should not he. But people were not much concerned. Nobody thought it might escalate. Then the Red Line was crossed. Why? Things were going well for Assad. The President had been stopped on his track. Media seemed to be taking the side of war-tired nation. Then Assad wanted to put an end to the stalemate and along with also to put an end to his opposition. His resources were running out and so were his supporters. He played his trump card. He used the gas. He wanted an open rejection of our President's request to use force against him. People on the one side and foes in the UN on the other, our President really seemed to have painted himself in a corner.
    But Assad was wrong. He did what our President wanted him to do. Had Assad continued with his routine killing of his own people, nothing would have changed and quite possibly he would have been able to put down the opposition, though his regime would have been seriously wounded. But by forcing the President to opt for immediate action, he lost the battle even before it began. He and Putin realized through their own sources that this President is quite determined in hitting him with bombs. Russia cannot have it that way. Even the few allies it has, will start walking out. So hurriedly they had to find a way out and there you have the proposal to eliminate Syrian poison gas. The President proved several things: He is NOT a war monger. He is not trigger happy. He would wait, even at the cost of losing some favorable votes from people, rather than go ahead with hurried action.
    Now it is for the Russians and Assad to keep to their commitment. Vacillation or repudiation will only make the hands of the President stronger and justify international action against Syria. And when the enemy on the other side is Russia, you bet, every American will be trigger happy!

    September 10, 2013 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  9. etret

    Question is what Israel says.
    Americans are SLAVES of Jews. They'll do what Israel will tell them.

    September 10, 2013 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  10. Fire Fighter

    i believe that we don't belong in Syria because its not our fight their weapons were pointed at their people not our troops or u.s. citizens so their for let them fight their own fight

    September 10, 2013 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  11. Jeff

    The man has lost the last of any credibility he had left. What a total disaster the Obama Presidency has turned out to be.

    September 10, 2013 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  12. wyant

    We have nothing to gain by going into Syria. We should not go there, boots on the ground or not. If Obama didn't see a cause to avenge Benghai, then there is no justification for going into Syria without provocation.

    September 10, 2013 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  13. Wirius

    In before, "Polls aren't what I think, therefore they must be wrong."

    September 10, 2013 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  14. doctorlb

    Hugely biased poll with 37% Dems, 20% Repubs, 43% independent.
    At worst it should have been about evenly split 3 ways.

    September 10, 2013 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  15. Wisconsin Gal

    I think there is a "good cop, bad cop" thing going on with Putin and Obama directed at Syria and a diplomatic solution will be the result.

    September 10, 2013 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  16. doctorlb

    Hugely biased poll with 43% Independent, 37% Dem, and 20% Repub.
    At worst should have been split evenly (thirds).

    September 10, 2013 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  17. Paul

    Survey said!! Oops it wasn't a real poll since a huge number of independents were polled. Too bad, it almost looked too good to be true for Obama! When will CNN stop kissing up to the Pres. Start asking the hard questions!

    September 10, 2013 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  18. Hardtotrustmonsters

    The President addressed, one by one, every question that has been put to him about his position. A solid effort.

    September 10, 2013 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  19. Name

    I think we have enough to worry about in our country. If they want to bomb each other then so be it. They been doing it forever, but our country got to put our noses in it. Well take a whiff America cause it may start WW 3.

    September 10, 2013 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  20. Anonymous

    Great President. So glad I voted for him... TWICE!

    September 10, 2013 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  21. Justin

    I'm probably feeling a bit dumb right now, but how can 52% feel more confident, 52% feel the same, and 16% feel less confident?

    September 10, 2013 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  22. Anonymous

    I am so sick of the news.the president dam if he do and dam if he don't.mr president do what you need to do.it is not the president red line,it's the world law.

    September 10, 2013 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  23. Adale

    Problem is , few people watch cnn.

    September 10, 2013 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  24. Riley

    What a lousy excuse of a leader.

    September 10, 2013 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  25. allenwoll

    I think that Mr Obama's speech was appropriate to the situation as it stands.

    September 10, 2013 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
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