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. Charley B

    Only God can judge , why USA always wants to fight ?

    September 11, 2013 01:30 am at 1:30 am |
  2. Raj

    Prez's position is right on. Keep the pressure and use diplomacy. If Syria surrenders the chemical weapons fine, if not there is always a military option. There is an old saying, kill the snake and don't break the stick.

    September 11, 2013 01:33 am at 1:33 am |
  3. William Eddy

    President Obama made the right call.

    September 11, 2013 01:35 am at 1:35 am |
  4. Name Uche Agonsi

    DETERRENT OR PREVENTIVE !!? ... Mmmh, i have heard the word before in another case of armed race. But guess what, they did not PREVENT OR DETER anything. World armament never ceases. Thats why peace should reign supreme. Mr. President also did not address the concomitant civil casualties from the strikes. God forbid they reach or surpass 1000...........NO MORE WAR.

    September 11, 2013 01:35 am at 1:35 am |
  5. reasonablebe

    this president is thoughtful and has more foresight than credited with in this, it seems. looks like a smart good move, that may achieve the desired results....and if not, there is another option, the threat of which seems to have accomplished some movement in syria.

    we'll have to see if syria and russia follow through- which would be really nice, but i'm not holding my breath... will the un keep tabs and follow through? let's hope... but keep some scepticism and keep options open.

    September 11, 2013 01:48 am at 1:48 am |
  6. Name annette

    Why us it we blame just one person. To my knowlegde he has to talk to a lot of other members of "Congress". Now I'm thinking if Bush, or any other Rep. Was in office then ut would be ok. Well if you think OBAMA is bad look whos thinking on running. Donald Trump REALLY. HE HAS NO KNOWLEGDE OF THE OTHER COUNTRYS. BOY OH BOY. EVERY PRESIDENT HAS DONE SOMETHING WRONG. BUT AFEW JUST DIDNT GET CAUGHT.

    September 11, 2013 02:11 am at 2:11 am |
  7. CJT

    i have changed my mind. i think the dud know what he is doing. His approach i dont know if it is by mere luck or intellince, but fact is working,,, bearing in mind Russia woundnt have a shift in their position if it wasnt US`s credible threat of force. OBAMA i didnt vote for u but i am with u on this one,.

    September 11, 2013 02:21 am at 2:21 am |
  8. Sheri

    Beautiful picture of Obama! I thought there would be a place to click onto it so that someone else in the house who could not stay up till 9, could then watch what the President said, rather than just bits and pieces from persons who are slanting his statements to their ideas. I do not know how this will turn out, and hopefully working with Putin and politically will solve the problems. I really do get sick of the disrespect people show for our presidents over the years, especially to this president that was elected by the majority!! If the nay sayers wanted to say that his credentials were not correct, they should have done it before he was elected. We all said that he should talk with the Enemies. So he did. and has had disrespect ever since. I do think there was one more country he should have visited , along with and near to the time he visited other countries. We talk of children not to bully. And adults not to bully certain groups, Yet we disrespect the Presidents who have been voted in, as has President Obama. There may be a time when things must change. But why not be civilized in the meantime?

    September 11, 2013 02:28 am at 2:28 am |
  9. Marvin

    Preventing the use of chemical weapons equals respecting the value mankind on this planet. No nation can regard human life as expendable and be of any value to its people. If we need to be the cop Obama regrets we must be to defend against enemies foreign and domestic; then that is what we must do. There can be no doubt we must defend the dignity and the survival of all mankind. Nations who inflict pain and misery on their people must be condemned with every pulpit possible. And the dignity of man must be honored always. To do less is to accept that man cannot evolve as a savior of life and our lonely planet.

    September 11, 2013 02:43 am at 2:43 am |
  10. David Alexander

    go ahead and strike Oboma...all we want is the final excuse to get RID of you;.....let the impeachment begin...we need freedom....from YOU and all your scandals, which you are DESPERATELY trying to cover up witn Stria nopw....how will you cover then up AFTER Syrai...start something somewhere else?????....do us BIG Favor.....RESIGN with the tiny amount of credibility you jave left...less than 12%

    September 11, 2013 02:43 am at 2:43 am |
  11. Dorothy young

    I think this war with syria killing their own people needs to be deceased and done away with what ever god brings forward

    September 11, 2013 02:45 am at 2:45 am |
  12. asdassad

    Fabricated stats. 61% of Americans support bombing Syria? Lies.

    September 11, 2013 02:50 am at 2:50 am |
  13. My_Name_Is_Fonseka

    CNN poll was rigged.

    September 11, 2013 02:51 am at 2:51 am |
  14. Name Uche Agonsi

    What is world policing if is not sitting idly by, watching and determining whether international law is broken or not and taking action.

    September 11, 2013 02:53 am at 2:53 am |
  15. AJ. Perfect

    I vote no intervention.

    September 11, 2013 03:34 am at 3:34 am |
  16. cbp

    The President made it pretty clear that President Assad has shown a callous disregard for human beings. The issue should not be politicized. We need to let Assad know that his actions were unacceptable and whether we try him in the World Court or choose another means of action against him should be decided by government leaders. Our Congress should be working with the President unless, of course, they agree with the use of poison gas on the citizens of Syria.

    September 11, 2013 03:38 am at 3:38 am |
  17. Az Lady, In the Zone

    The speech was good, but not great.

    What would he do if we did have a limited attack?

    There was no proof in speech that he did it. I would bet 50% of people who are too smart to be pushed into thoughts as Obama was clearly trying to convince us of. Attending a confrence doesn't make you an offender, it makes you smarter to be aware of the possibles. There are many holes when regarding exact guilt here.. Just saying, the "evidence" being presented isn't good enough point blank.

    September 11, 2013 03:48 am at 3:48 am |
  18. JR Pabst

    60 percent is a split? How about the term "majority"?

    September 11, 2013 03:54 am at 3:54 am |
  19. Az Lady, In the Zone

    Good God, please get these people off the air that are putting bad information out there. The red tie guy has got to go!!!!

    September 11, 2013 03:57 am at 3:57 am |
  20. Paul Dzieweczynski

    Where is my chance to vote? These polls are rigged... They are biased and unfounded... Give me something to poll on... I will get the numbers needed eventually...

    September 11, 2013 04:08 am at 4:08 am |
  21. Sebastian

    The totally clueless zig-zagging autocue-president and embarrassingly impotent commander in chief Oblahblah quoted Franklin Roosevelt, he should have listened and learned from the other Roosevelt president who said "speak softly but carry a big stick". president Oblahblah does nothing but the opposite, he now officialy proclaimed himself to be a lame-duck president, the world's biggest talker with egg on his face...

    September 11, 2013 04:17 am at 4:17 am |
  22. Mary

    Strategy.. Well played...~!

    September 11, 2013 04:54 am at 4:54 am |
  23. ryan

    so in other words, democrats still blindly follow him and republicans wont go along with him. two party systems a joke. if people could think for themselves 100% of this country would be against intervention in syria

    September 11, 2013 05:12 am at 5:12 am |
  24. patrick martin

    My president made the correct decision in announcing to the word that he will enact very serious action against anyone or country using heinous weapons against innocent people. I applaud him for that and I applaud him for gathering a consensus and/or recommendation for another course of action. Diplomacy is always the best solution however punishment is mandatory for such heinous acts as using nerve agents on innocent children. So DO NOT stop with the diplomacy.

    September 11, 2013 05:15 am at 5:15 am |
  25. addison

    It was a good speech, but it just did not convince me that my position against involvement was wrong. We need to stay out of Syria. It is another no win situation for the US.

    September 11, 2013 05:28 am at 5:28 am |
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