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. hannah

    No speech will change the fact that we cannot be the world's babysitter! We need to stay out of this one, MIND OUR OWN BUSINESS for once, and take care of stuff in our own country! How about using our tax dollars right here for a change??????

    September 11, 2013 05:33 am at 5:33 am |
  2. Shaun

    No the president did not make a realivant case on the Syria. Really another Arab war to get involved in. The Government can't even figure out how to handle the budget now we are going to get involed in two year old civil war

    September 11, 2013 05:51 am at 5:51 am |
  3. The Great Pontificator

    The President should be kissing Putins rear end, he saved him from either the embarrassment backing down after congress voted no or the stigma of charging into an unnecessary war.

    September 11, 2013 05:59 am at 5:59 am |
  4. chris eck

    I dont think we should do anything with syria..theres wars and genocide going on all over the world..who are we to pick just the islamic countries. .why are we Knocking off all the middle east leaders one by one?.it goes deeper then just chemical weapons.there's an agenda..its there cival war..let them be..im sad for the babies..but that only makes their leader a coward..are military are the heroes of the world..but are government are a bunch off snakes..in all of history an weapons and bombs america is the only one to drop the atomic bomb on a country killing men women an innocent children...nobody came to their defence..i am an american..i love my country. .but this government is full of ignorance..a bunch of split tongued ignorant people. .obama will go down in history as the worst pres. Ever.hope an change..give me a break..we're on our way( if he has it his way.)heading towards being like china or a russian gov..wake up people. .read the signs..listen to his words..POWER TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE. .POWER TO OUR LORD JESUS..AN POWER TO ANY AMERICAN WITH A GUN AN AMO READY TO DEFEND OUR GOD GIVNING RIGHTS ON OUR OWN GOD GIVING SOIL.CAN I GET AN AMEN.

    September 11, 2013 06:00 am at 6:00 am |
  5. Dixie

    There. Can be no trust for someone who is untrustworthy. Our great nation deserves. more.

    September 11, 2013 06:13 am at 6:13 am |
  6. justininrome

    the missing element is the UN Security Counsel or General Assembly resolution – even if 100% of the public agree or disagree with Obama – without a UN resolution any military action is illegal and Obama knows this

    September 11, 2013 06:16 am at 6:16 am |
  7. Jerry

    How can this lying imbecile move "ANY" needle?! Now he's attempting to take credit for the negotiations with Syria; something that was started inadvertedly? by Kerry's equally idiotic comments (threats/war mongering). And, of course, Russia (Putin) picked up on Kerry's fumble and has been running with it.

    Mr. Obama continues to unabashedly shame our country around the world.

    And PLEASE, don't get me started on "what does it matter at this time" Benghazi Hillary.

    September 11, 2013 06:24 am at 6:24 am |
  8. gigi82

    you can see 10000 miles away that he is lying trough his teeth.. anybody still believes what this clown says??

    September 11, 2013 06:26 am at 6:26 am |
  9. NoCommentCNN

    I'm no supporter of violence, but the President looked to me to be very p1ssed off about the scenes of dying children. I feel he never looked more determined to use whatever means to punish Assad for what he believes was an egregious act. I have to say I respect the man very much for standing on his principles.

    September 11, 2013 06:37 am at 6:37 am |
  10. cameron

    This new Syria disarmament talk is ridiculous. I can't even believe they are even entertaining this asinine idea. First off, how the hell do you secure the weapons without troops. Somebody is going to have to go there in the middle of a civil war and guard, move or supervise the securing of chemical weapons stockpiles. Ofr are they just going to expect Assad to load them up and drive them over to the neighborhood Chemical weapons recovery center like the local aluminum can recycling truck. Ridiculous.

    Second, I could hide whatever I wanted to from a foreign government in small town of Mayberry, let alone a Country the size of Syria. So to think the Assad would give us a map and an accounting of his entire stockpile is like counting on Lucy to hold the ball for Charlie brown without pulling it. I mean come on. After watching those kids quiver and shake dying as a result of the chemical attack, then to see our leaders take up such a sickening discussion just makes me sick to my stomach. No wonder the world hates us. I can't imagine being a father and watching me son die of a chemical attack and then watch a world power take up such a ridiculous option would make me hate us too. While I cry over my dead serin gassed son, the U.S. discusses taking punishment off the table if the murdering tyrant promises to hand over his Chemical weapons. All the while bombing away at cities. Sickening, just sickening.

    We never do the right thing at the right time, and follow it through. We either wait until the opportunity to make a real difference passes or half arse the mission and leave the situation worse then when it started.

    Lastly, kids and innocent civilians are still dying every day. While we discuss this absolutely stupid idea. I knew the Government thought the American people were stupid but this is just insanity.

    I really just can't believe this blatant round of stupidity.

    If Assad needs to be punished then punish him. Then after that discuss solutions. I don't even deal with my kid that way.

    September 11, 2013 06:38 am at 6:38 am |
  11. bens772

    Same ole indecisive, cowardly, embarrassing non leader. He should be impeached and sent back to Kenya along with his Muslim brothers who have the audacity to parade on 9/11.

    September 11, 2013 06:39 am at 6:39 am |
  12. YoungDude

    After voting for 30 years I strongly believe that politicians lie when they and Corporations have something to gain. Politicians lie and mislead with ease and do it without hesitation. It's not my fault that I have no faith in Politicians. Due to their lying we now have many people across the globe that want to kill US citizens at any costs; unless of course you believe that US politicians only lie to US citizens but tell the truth to the rest of the world!

    September 11, 2013 06:43 am at 6:43 am |
  13. MICHAEL WHITE

    People, don't believe this claim of Syrian President Assad ordering the use of chemical weapons in this particular case. With attention already focused on him from past allegations, it would be ludicrous to use them especially in a conflict in which his troops were winning the war. That would be like a thief trying to rob a bank while the police are watching. It makes no sense. Additionally, the so called Al Qaeda rebels could have obtained them from leftover stockpiles in Libya or from Israel. Sarin gas is not difficult to manufacture. The U.S. should stay out this proxy war between Shiite and Sunni Muslims. We can't be choosing sides.

    September 11, 2013 06:44 am at 6:44 am |
  14. Gail Gullotti

    This is not related to the page content because I didn't read it. As a web writer, I can't believe how wordy these articles are. A person should be able to scan the page. I clicked on the poll expecting to see some chart or table where I could see results at a glance. Instead, there's a page of words! Start writing for the web. It's not that hard.

    September 11, 2013 06:46 am at 6:46 am |
  15. Leo

    Its been shown that no matter what he does, it's bad. Pity he is acting like Bush.

    September 11, 2013 06:46 am at 6:46 am |
  16. declan

    He hasn't made the case for weeks now. We don't want to go in. Period!

    September 11, 2013 06:48 am at 6:48 am |
  17. Anonymous

    Where are you digging up all these people who support a strike on Syria? Other polls show 90 per cent opposition. I think mCNN is biased and slanted on this issue. You are the left version of Fox News.

    September 11, 2013 06:50 am at 6:50 am |
  18. Minnie Mouse

    There are to many unanswered questions for the country in it's entirety, for us to be involved in any other country but our own. Our country cannot afford to, as well as should not have to pay the price for what another country has done regarding violent uncalled for acts of crime in which lead to the deaths of numerous innocent men, women and children.

    No one country should be doing or should have done what Sryia did but we do not have to pay the price for it.

    The presidents speech made no difference at all because he's not certain on what he wants to do, when he wants to do it and how he wants to do anything. When the "Commander in Chief" is playing the flip, flop game that's not a good sign for this country at all. He gets to make the final decision and lets all pray to "God", that it's a rational decision.

    In order to move anything forward, he has to give solid concrete answers. If we don't know what the end results will be, then we have no place to be striking into Syria and putting our military men and women's lives at risks.

    There are so many families that are being displaced, because no one knows what the President of the United states is going to do. People are fleeing for safety in other countries.

    When you have to think, rationalize, get hundreds of governmental people and other countries involved, your making the wrong decision. The longer it takes for answers, the worst things will be in the end result.

    Our country needs certainty and to include all of our nations surrounding countries needs certainty. Right now, no one has that anywhere. There are no set permanent plans for anything to move forward or to reach a peaceful solution.

    I don't feel that the Presidents speech will be a mind changer for anyone.

    September 11, 2013 06:54 am at 6:54 am |
  19. Joe

    The headline should had read that 6 in 10 polled opposed wr with Syria which is what Obama wanted all along. The Russians chose diplomacy and in 24 hours they accomplished what Obama now wants. But thanks for playing CNN..

    September 11, 2013 07:06 am at 7:06 am |
  20. Free Man in the Republic of Texas

    Did Obama move the needle?

    The "ONE"

    Mr. Did "I" not TELL you that "I" am just too AWESOME

    Mr. Let "ME" be clear

    September 11, 2013 07:07 am at 7:07 am |
  21. Jim37015

    MSN's poll shows 79% is NOT in favor of attacking. 27,000+ voted NO with only 6000+ favoring. Thats 30,000 people taking a poll, not 361 selected people.

    September 11, 2013 07:10 am at 7:10 am |
  22. John

    "A majority of Americans who watched President Barack Obama's prime time address to the nation on Tuesday "

    That parameter alone makes the poll irrelevant. Most folks are so sick of this fraud they couldn't bear to sit through another Obama address. Anyone who could actually watch him is probably still drinking his kool-aid.

    September 11, 2013 07:11 am at 7:11 am |
  23. ryan

    It seems that Russia, Iran and China are the only smart countries in the world at the present time.

    September 11, 2013 07:16 am at 7:16 am |
  24. Mike White

    The Kerry Proposal made the speech unnecessary.

    Diplomacy has halted the Obama war campaign in its tracks.

    September 11, 2013 07:19 am at 7:19 am |
  25. dave

    Dear Leader has done nothing, has zero credibility.... Thank goodness for Putin!

    September 11, 2013 07:23 am at 7:23 am |
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