CNN Instant Poll: Did Obama move the needle on Syria?
September 10th, 2013
10:36 PM ET
1 year 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. mkat2

    It did absolutely nothing to change my lack of confidence in his leadership or his competency in dealing with major world issues.

    September 10, 2013 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  2. MDalton

    "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."
    ???!!!!

    September 10, 2013 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  3. SanDiegoWatch

    Split? 90% of Americans are against invading Syria.

    September 10, 2013 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  4. Greg

    "The purpose of this strike would be to deter Assad from using chemical weapons, to degrade his regime's ability to use them, and to make clear to the world that we will not tolerate their use." What is a "military strike"? One military strike? Many? I would assume many. One strike can not possibly deter Assad, unless nuclear – but that would defeat the entire purpose of this Assad issue. Cnn apparently placed all the locations of the weapons on a map for Assad to see. So he must know we know he knows =) Two (2) years of Assad using these weapons...? Military strike(s) will cause civilian death, when do they never. Unless Obama's flying robots/drones are super smart and buff. We got this...maybe.

    September 10, 2013 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  5. Tumua

    The President answered some questions I had therefore I support him.

    September 10, 2013 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  6. Name

    Doesnt matter people that hate Obama wont agree

    September 10, 2013 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  7. Novice Statistician

    According to the CNN Poll, as reported by CNN:
    -52% of responders have more confidence in Obama on foreign military issues
    -16% of responders have less confidence
    -52% did not change their minds

    That seems like too many percents.

    September 10, 2013 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  8. surfsock1

    Sad day for US foreign policy and influence.

    September 10, 2013 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  9. DontLieToMe

    Barack is all washed up as a flim flam man. We ain`t buying his krap anymore.

    September 10, 2013 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  10. Mario

    So the critics say Obama credibility is on the line but at the same time u don't support him on a strike?

    September 10, 2013 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  11. kelly w.

    I'm for the strike. Something needs to be done before they get us with chemical warfare. I would want other countries to help us if this happened to american children. They will not give up their material. They will always be able to make more. Send the message Obama.

    September 10, 2013 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |
  12. Adale

    Cnn does not have a wide enough viewer audience, so the polll is meaningless.

    September 10, 2013 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  13. War is not the solution

    Whoever found more confidence in him is honestly kidding themselves.

    September 10, 2013 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  14. pokey5735

    And who would believe a poll taken by Obama's CNN or any of the MSM Obama shills?

    September 10, 2013 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  15. loops808

    Why soundoff? Why not open the forum to readrs to get a real sense of readers opinions. instead of having a mediator cherry pick mostly positive comments to give a false perception. Total bias.

    September 10, 2013 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  16. freedomluchador

    Bunch of BOLONY! HE is not KING!

    September 10, 2013 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  17. Pat

    Polls are fine, but doing the right thing for America is not necessarily doing what Americans might think is right.
    Erin Burnet Out Front tonight mentioned that the Google Search Engine indicated that in the last 24 hours that Miley Cyrus was searched 6 x's as much as Syria or President Obama.
    Some experts say that Obama's approach of being overly cautious and attempting to go and get Congressional Approval before responding is going to be judged as weakness. I tend to agree.
    While President Obama's Red line made it easy for the British to opt out, and may have put US credibility on the line, it did give him the green light to respond as soon as the Syrian Chemical Attack had taken place on August 21.
    And as far as the proposal by the Russians to have Syria give up its chemical weapons, count me as being skeptical.
    The Russians are well aware of the fact that such an operation to be conducted during the civil war is next to impossible, so this is just a stall tactic, in knowing this they have told Assad to go along with this. In addition the Russians have indicated that they would be unwilling to draft any UN Resolution that would call for action against Syria if they were not to go through with this.
    The only thing that President Obama can do to save face is to keep the Military off of the Syrian Coast and ready to strike. And if there is even a small chemical attack President Obama had better give them the go order, otherwise he will be seen by the world as gutless.

    September 10, 2013 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  18. Chris

    When you have to put the percentage of respondents to a poll in scientific notation (1.2 x 10^-6 percent of all Americans – 361 out of 300,000,000), it does not make it valid.

    September 10, 2013 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  19. JYH

    How can anyone take Obama and his speech seriously? What a joke.

    September 10, 2013 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
  20. G.Kubiak

    It is nice to see a window for no military involvement open in Syria. My bigger concern is that everyone feels it will not work and they don't trust the Russians. Lets try trusting the U.N., this is part of the design of it. If you have no faith in the U.N. agreeing on a diplomatic response then what is the point of having the U.N.? You will never get the U.N. to work if you fail to trust it or have no faith in it. President Obama now says we are not the World Police, then stop acting like it is and allow the U.N. to police the world as it should. Keep the money for the issues we have in this country! I am A disabled Vet and the benefits and health care are a joke to say the least. If you really wish to thank Vets and there families then start by fixing that instead of sending them back out to get involved with another countries war.

    September 10, 2013 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  21. Ismail ALjazaeri

    The pro-war militant journalists of CNN cooking the books. By miracle the public opinion has shifted in 15 minutes. Waw

    September 10, 2013 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  22. Al

    When Obama met Putin, I knew that something was in the works. I was never convinced it would come to military strikes. I don't think Assad is dumb enough to do anything to jeopardize his military. Obama's bellicosity scared a lot of people, and it appears it also scared Assad. Let's hope it works.

    Similar scripts have played out over the years. We used to call it "sabre rattling."

    September 10, 2013 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    I wonder how reliable is this number.

    September 10, 2013 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  24. Bill KOLB

    I support the President in this. "Speak softly and carry a big stick!"

    September 10, 2013 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  25. Corey

    A lot of the President's speech rests on the assumption that the Syrian government was in fact behind the chemical weapons attack. He said it is something we know to be true. How could it be, then, that the President has still refused to release US intelligence findings. Surely, if the findings supported him, he would gain the approval he needed from the country and from congress.

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