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

    Those numbers are highly suspect given the level of disapproval everywhere.

    September 10, 2013 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  2. Greg

    I elaborate. We have mapped the location of weapons on the front lines (this is all from memory of 5 hours ago), and those front lines seem to be facing Turkey, Lebanon, and Israel. What forces are there in that area, minus the surrounding Countries. Weird how they are not close (from memory) to the Iraq border, like the dots (cnn portrayal of the front line weapons) are running away from Iraq. Reading into the dots (conjecturing), I say Assad is fearing forces from Iraq and threatening surrounding countries, or mainly Israel? OR Assad has received threats from Israel? Two (2) years of Assad using these weapons...? – I need to do more research. What? Two years, really. Difference from then and now? Ranting to be continued...

    September 10, 2013 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  3. Clarissa

    Behind the scenes are a global oil play for Syria's oil; Syria is finally doing the right thing to open up arms inspections. Russia is the problem, and will continue to supply Syria with arms, in a bid to control the Syrian economy. America has no business siding with Al Qaeda in Syria, sympathetic or not. Obama has a hard choice: Fight to disarm Syria or use arms inspections to control arms. Revolution simply means that weapons find their way into rebel strong-holds and another round of despots is created. Using force against Assad to topple his regime will undoubtedly destroy the many refugees that Syria took in compassionately. We need to force Assad into a peace and disarmament deal, rather than have a UN global committee control this.

    September 10, 2013 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  4. rob

    I think it's important to travel down the road of diplomacy before we strike a country that could very well lead us into a war despite what the intentions are. No country, especially a ruthless regime like Syria's is going to sit idly by without retaliating. As we heard in the news, Iran, an ally, is responding by indicating a retaliatory attack on US allies in the Middle East. We don't need a Gulf War 2.

    September 10, 2013 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
  5. dalene44

    In other words, the vast majority still don't want military intervention in Syria and it's not in our national interest to be involved. People are alert and aware.

    September 10, 2013 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
  6. ug

    No...more lies by cnn of course...nobody wants anything to happen to Syria involving the US...

    September 10, 2013 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  7. Michael Logan

    Who are they polling? Nothing said tonight is any different from what we have been hearing.

    September 11, 2013 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  8. ChrisM

    And this guy won the Noble Peace prize how?

    September 11, 2013 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  9. Bud

    These polls are always misleading and the only way to get an accurate read is to read the comments section. So far, I see a vast majority not having any confidence to low confidence in this administration, not just Obama alone.

    September 11, 2013 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  10. John516

    I'd hate to see the U.S. become 'Insular'. Chemical weapons cannot go unnoticed, nor un punished. I believe President Obama is taking the correct stance. Enough said.

    September 11, 2013 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  11. Mary

    Obama is so concerned about other nations citizens but does not care about our countrymen, aka, Benghazi!

    September 11, 2013 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  12. Sean

    There is no split I became more decisive against military action after the speech!!!

    September 11, 2013 12:08 am at 12:08 am |
  13. hsaliba

    At the end of the day, the people of Syria are very much like you and me: They work hard, love their families, and have dreams for the future. I pray for our president and his council of advisors that punishment for the evil works of a few is not distributed across the peace-loving majority, most of whom are citizens who have no choice in the matter.

    September 11, 2013 12:09 am at 12:09 am |
  14. J. Alexander

    ...I didn't hear the speech by according to the polls, he pulled this one off. I have been reading comments from the boards by 6 in 10 are on his side. This had to be a set up that the president and Putin planed to bail the president out and this Texas two-step the president is dancing on while Putin plays the music and 6 out of ten Americans are dancing too is beyond me.

    September 11, 2013 12:09 am at 12:09 am |
  15. ValleyMuse

    The trick is to not look directly into his eyes. Hopefully those afflicted will sleep it off and come to their senses tomorrow.

    Buy a used car from him if you must, but Don't let him sell you a World War!

    September 11, 2013 12:10 am at 12:10 am |
  16. jeff

    Where was all this concern for our ambassador and four Navy Seals in Libya last year? It's alright for Americans to spill their blood for ungrateful Muslims, and now he wants to save more ungrateful muslims.

    September 11, 2013 12:12 am at 12:12 am |
  17. Judy Konos

    The Good News is that Russia and China are getting involved with the United States regarding Chemical warfare. This in itself is history!

    September 11, 2013 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  18. shawn poland

    i find this hard to believe when congress critters across the US have announced that 98% of the callers are saying NO! hmmm who does cnn poll anyway? the elderly and big pharma customers??

    September 11, 2013 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  19. Rob

    Who did you poll the congress? it was not the american people, I can see that by looking at the numbers WOW......

    September 11, 2013 12:15 am at 12:15 am |
  20. Reasonably

    This tell us nothing. 90% of Americans wanted a change to gun control laws and nothing happened.

    September 11, 2013 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
  21. Greg

    Wait . . . what are we striking? Hmmm... We would stirke THE WEAPONS. oh wait no, that cant be it. We will strike HIS HOUSE. uhm, maybe not. We will strike his BANK ACCOUNTS. sorry, that would not be military. We will strike HIS MILITARY. YEAH, his MILITARY! But then that means innocent kids and wives and brother and sisters will lose loved ones because these people were just following orders.

    What is the punishment for going AWOL under Assad's orders? Okay, maybe not Assad's military. Maybe its the facilities where the weapons are stored. Maybe an Iron Man weapon type of destruction, bunker buster, flat out dumping some bombs on it. More people have to die right? 2 years...

    Yikes, politics (rolling eyes). A bunch of killing for centuries. No one really will remember the fallen. We can not do anything about the ones to fall. Who are worthy not to fall or to prevent from falling? Also, seems Iran have faded into the background after Assad to front and center. To many dots to conjecture about or come relatively close in explaining it with accuracy. Alright, rant over. Just put this guy in line. 2 years?

    September 11, 2013 12:19 am at 12:19 am |
  22. Robert

    Let the international community deal with it, and if the international community does not take action – let it go.

    What happened in Syria is tragic, no different then any other violent war or terrorist action, but it is not up to Obama to drive this effort to take action – sorry, not his place.

    He bastardizes the terms "American Interests" and "National Security", which is insulting to the American People ad-nauseam. Syria is not a direct threat, nor has been, to America – but will be if Obama takes action, that is for sure.

    I am sick and tired of Obama, he is a dictator in presidential clothing, for the past 5 years he has spent proving that to the American people and now he lashes out other countries with the same behavior – ENOUGH!!!!!!!

    It is a real shame, and sad to say that I trust the Russian president more than I trust Obama – that hurt to say, but had to say it.

    Obama is a dangerous king baby – and a bad liar on top of it...

    He stated a year or so ago that use of chemical weapons was a red line, yet a couple of days ago denied saying it – stated it was the world's red line, but he has the balls to take military action (responsibility) when it is the international community's place to do so, not him – he I so bass ackwards it's not funny.

    And 51% of the American people voted for this piece of garbage.

    Tell you what, let's make a deal...

    Seemingly as we are so broke Mr. Obama, why don't we do a trade. You can have your military action against Syria (and the possibility of opening the door up to a 3rd world war) or you can have Obama care, you can't have both..

    September 11, 2013 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  23. Twibert

    There are 120% of us:" 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 11, 2013 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  24. Doina C.

    NO STRIKE against Siria!!!

    September 11, 2013 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
  25. Sam

    How about that wait until they survey more than 361 people.

    September 11, 2013 12:25 am at 12:25 am |
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