September 3rd, 2013
04:35 PM ET
9 years ago

Polls: Should U.S. launch strikes against Syria?

Washington (CNN) - Two new national polls indicate the same thing: More Americans oppose rather than favor U.S. military strikes against Syria.

According to an ABC News/Washington Post survey released Tuesday, 36% of the public supports launching missile strikes against the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad if the U.S. has determined that Damascus has used chemical weapons against its own citizens, with nearly six in ten opposing such a move.

The poll indicates that support rises ten points, to 46%, and opposition drops eight points, to 51% if allies such as Great Britain and France participated in missile attacks against Syria.

Last week Britain's Parliament rejected taking part in any military attack on Syria, depriving the president of a normally reliable ally. France however has indicated support for action but that it would not act alone.

The release of the two surveys comes as President Barack Obama seeks congressional authorization for any strike against Syria. Earlier Tuesday the president, meeting with members of Congress about possible military intervention in Syria, said "we have high confidence that Syria used in indiscriminate fashion chemical weapons that killed thousands of people including over 400 children in direct violation of the international norm against using chemical weapons."

As lawmakers mull whether to support a strike against Syria, it's clear the dividing line is "hawk vs. dove" rather than Democrat vs. Republican. The ABC News/Washington Post poll indicates no partisan divide, with 54% of Democrats and 55% of Republicans opposed to unilateral U.S. strikes. But that number rises to 66% among independents. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll conducted last week also suggested little daylight between Democrats and Republicans over whether to attack Syria.

Sen. John McCain, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, and fellow Armed Services member Lindsey Graham said the United States needs to help the rebels reverse battlefield gains by troops loyal to al-Assad. The two Republican senators have called for U.S intervention in Syria for a year and a half.

But the poll suggests little support for arming Syrian rebels, with just 27% supporting such a move by the U.S. and its allies and seven in ten opposed.

The ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted Wednesday through Sunday, both before and after Obama called on Congress to vote on authorizing military action against Syria.

A Pew Research Center poll, which was conducted Thursday through Sunday, also indicates little support for any military strike, with 29% in favor of such a move, 48% opposed and nearly one in four unsure. As with the other surveys, there's little partisan divide between Democrats and Republicans on this question. But the Pew poll indicates a gender gap, with men twice as likely as women to favor military airstrikes.

The Pew poll spells out why many Americans are opposed to action against Syria.

"Three-quarters believe that U.S. airstrikes in Syria are likely to create a backlash against the United States and its allies in the region and 61% think it would be likely to lead to a long-term U.S. military commitment there," says a release by Pew Research. "Meanwhile, just 33% believe airstrikes are likely to be effective in discouraging the use of chemical weapons."

Just 32% of those questioned in the Pew poll say that the president has clearly explained why the U.S. should launch strikes against Damascus, with nearly half saying Obama hasn't been clear enough and one in five unsure. On this question there is a partisan divide, with more than half of Democrats but just 19% of Republicans saying the president has clearly made his case.

The Pew Research Center poll was conducted August 29-September 1, with 1,000 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.

The ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted August 28-September 1, with 1,012 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points

Filed under: Congress • Polls • Syria
soundoff (104 Responses)
  1. billduke

    Just say no to yet another Obama war. Wasn't the mess in Libya enough of a lesson?

    September 3, 2013 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  2. U.S. Citizen

    Strikes are a fools errand.
    Go in to clean up the mess there or stay out.

    September 3, 2013 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  3. billduke

    Just say no to another Obama war. Wasn't the mess in Libya enough of a lesson?

    September 3, 2013 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  4. Mer'tan Trione

    What I would like to know is how we American's are supposed to form any kind of an intelligent opinion on all of this without being allowed to hear our US Congress debate? Why are the UK citizens apparently more "free" that the US citizens when they are allowed to hear Parliament's debate on this subject, but in America the debate in Congress is going to be a closed door session. Creepy if you ask me, and just goes to show you that we not only live in a surveillance police state, "We the People" are no longer worthy of hearing the people who are supposed to work for US do a debate. I remember when it used to be "Private Citizens" and "Public Servants" it's "Public Citizens" and "Private Corporations". When did this switch happen? I must have blinked!

    September 3, 2013 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  5. Clint H

    First of all, the American public would need to be shown all the info including classified info to make an informed decision. If not, it is a moot point.

    September 3, 2013 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    it is to late

    September 3, 2013 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  7. Clint H

    Wow SilenceDaGood... Lets see your IP addy... Hmmm... Middle Eastern. Al Qaeda Sympathizer I see.

    September 3, 2013 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  8. Thomas

    Rick McDaniel
    Most Americans is a waste of money that will accomplish absolutely NOTHING!


    How would you know what most Americans know , Unless your saying that those Americans who were opposed to the Iraq war knew something the majority didn't know !

    Any war is a waste of money , very few make money on wars , and those that do are a very small minority , maybe 2%.

    September 3, 2013 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  9. ponzishema

    Why go to ABC news, CNN, when you strike down every post saying "Up vote if you DON'T WANT WAR"...and the numbers come up 1000 to 30. NOT 100 to 36. You are skewing what is shown ON YOUR OWN WEBSITE!

    September 3, 2013 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  10. Ken

    You are clueless to what this is really all about. It is taking advantage of a window to start something much larger. There wouldn't be this much of a push if only a few billion were going to be borrowed... People in need, do not need bombs. They need leaders. I've served multiple deployments to the Persian Gulf, if we attack, we are deadly.

    September 3, 2013 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  11. Cmty

    Remember "shock and awe" ? That worked out well......

    September 3, 2013 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  12. Brooke


    The United Nations has a secret weapon. It’s called the Golan Heights.

    As a signatory of the UN treaty to outlaw use of weapons of mass destruction, and if found guilty of the recent chemical attacks on its own civilians, I suggest the Assad government of Syria has not only lost all claim as a protector of its peoples but also its claim to the Golan Heights.

    Why add more territory to a regime that poisons its own peoples and turns so many of its citizens into refugees to be cared for by the UN and neighboring countries?

    President Obama obviously found himself in a deep divide. One day he is praising Dr. King for his non-violent approach to correcting civil rights abuses in America. The next day he on the brink of ordering missile strikes against Syria.

    I believe the Golan Heights should be returned to Syria, but not to the Assad government.

    The territory should be returned to the Syrians – to the rebels, the freedom fighters, and the refugees, who with Israel, the United States, France, Great Britain, and the UN, will man its defenses along the border with Assad’s Syria. Peace treaties between and among the powers above and the rebel forces and refugees must be signed. The Arab League must add its support and its forces.

    It seems only appropriate that the Assad government be declared unfit to govern. Let it be known that it was President Bashar Assad who lost the Golan Heights for his peoples in his cowardly use of chemical warfare.

    Can it be that the seeds of a democratic government for Syria will sprout and flourish from the barren ground of the Golan Heights?

    September 3, 2013 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  13. Kathleen Scott

    I am one who is very opposed. It has nothing to do with not caring about the victims of atrocities, nor about be war weary, so to speak. The question is, as it was in Iraq, who is the enemy? Is it the Syrian Regime, Al Queda infiltrated rebel forces, Iran, Saudi Arabia.
    Why are these victims more important than the children of Darfur?
    Leadership is essential here, and I am not trusting it is in place.

    September 3, 2013 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  14. exsocom

    We were all warned repeatedly about Obama's lack of skills regarding foreign policy and national defense. The religious-backed arrogance will NEVER be overcome by any method...war or otherwise. I trained for 9 years before Desert Storm and the battle was essentially over in 39 hours. Sadam was beaten badly and quickly, yet was still defiant in his I said...arrogance. I believe this Syrian / US issue needs to be addressed for its longterm strategic value. Its these smaller actions that set the stage for future war and relate econimic resets. From experience, I can tell you that if the US Marine Corp comes to visit, it will be too late to pray for peace; fair warning.

    September 3, 2013 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  15. bryan

    use the drone on all suspected sites where c-weapons are found and are set up to be armed and fired. sometimes you have to use force. we remember hezbolla who bombed the marine barracks, we remember the sailors that died on the uss cole. we remember the world trade center. we remember the towers, we remember boston. if i was the president if they stick their head out from under the rock they are hiding under, i would blow it off with a very nice missile.

    September 3, 2013 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  16. Monish Joshy

    It is easy for the Elite to give orders to start another war because it does not affect them, but the common Americans will suffer when the gas price go up because of war, when the national debt increases double fold after war and the Elite put more tax and burden on common Man, increase in healthcare cost, job layoff increases, More American families lose their loved brave family members who are in military ...all this at the cost of helping Muslim brotherhood in Egypt and Syria, helping those Al-Qaeda terrorists who massacred Christian families alive........

    September 3, 2013 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  17. Name

    What a cowardly thing to do to turn a blind eye on these atrocities, and Russia and China should burn in bell, hit assad, hit him hard!

    September 3, 2013 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  18. Rita Razo

    I agree with griffon...
    Have you all forgotten 9/11??? Who's to say that we do nothing to stop the use of chemical weapons.......some day they may be used on us? I know most of us will be crying over our lost lives.........but crying is not e ought in the future, when we can prevent this from happening now. THINK PEOPLE!!

    September 3, 2013 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  19. Zamil

    I cannot believe that information Americans are giving is true. Who will punish Americans for destroying Iraq on wrong pretext. Also it has become American policy to destroy and rebuild using regions resources thus giving a boost to American economy.
    As a Muslim, I shall not tolerate any harm to our Imam Hussain's Holy sites in Syria.

    September 3, 2013 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  20. Flyover

    I guess this is the change Obama promised. We're going down, down, down the abyss. He has turned into a complete disappointment just like GWB.

    September 3, 2013 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  21. fuzzback

    My God, where were all these critics when Bush sent 100,000 troops to Iraq? How attitudes have changed...

    September 3, 2013 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  22. Mike Texoma

    It is not possible to take sides in this civil war. Sheites v. Sunnis. There is no military objective to be gained.

    It is possible, however, to make the statement that the world will not tolerate the use of weapons of mass destruction by the government of any nation against its own citizens.

    We cannot sit on the sidelines and bite our nails and worry. Either we have the national cojones to do what is right about this use of sarin gas or we do not. I do not see that we have a choice to act or not. The choice is what to do and how how to measure it.

    September 3, 2013 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  23. donny

    well i think we got to do something now.not a month from now.if we let it go then he will think he can use it any time he wants im all for it..just hope it dont brake us.

    September 3, 2013 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  24. Alex D.G.

    No absolutely not, do nothing in any way about the events in Syria. When the hell did it become the sole concern of the United States when nations fall in civil war. Let China handle this on, or Russia, they have ships in the Gulf. We have enough right here at home that needs fixing before we erupt into violent outbreaks of rage against our government. No air strikes, no troops on the ground, no advisors, get out and stay out.

    September 3, 2013 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  25. vikingwoman

    As a Swedish hippie, I'm a pacifist & proud of it! What's the difference between war & a bully or domestic violence or murder!? Not much, it's just on a larger scale w/many more lives hanging in the balance! It's wrong, pure & simple! However, just as bullying, domestic violence or murder can't continue w/out consequence, neither can Bashar al-Assad continue to kill off those of his citizens who wont fall in line w/his terroristic dictatorship! I really don't want this to be on Americas back, but it seems the world community & the UN are too chicken to do anything about it! Maybe if we get the ball rolling they'll join in, but no matter what, we will state what we believe in & live in this country-Liberty & Justice For ALL! There is no country like this country & no other country comes close....because the World lives here!!

    September 3, 2013 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
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