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. AustinGuy

    I'm all for the US defending our allies, our beliefs and our interests through military intervention when necessary and when diplomacy cannot reasonably accomplish our goals. That said, I cannot understand why we continue putting US service personnel and US citizens at risk intervening in countries where we are despised by all sides. Does anybody believe that the rebels in Syria wouldn't have put a knife in the back of a US solider last year...or wouldn't be ready to fight the "great satan" again as soon as they gained control over Syria from the current ruler? We have no business being the play ground monitor for a part of the world that wants nothing more than to kill our citizens any time we're not pumping money into buying their short term loyalty. Get out, stay out, develop alternative fuels, bankrupt that part of the world and let them fight over their desert without our participation.

    September 3, 2013 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  2. Schwoopshubby

    How can anyone think dropping a few bombs would make one bit of difference, other than incite additional violence. Where is the international support in this matter? Where is Great Britain in all this? They want nothing to do with this. The U.S should not, nor can be the world police anymore. There are other ways to help the people of Syria. Cruise missiles are not the answer. Bombs will likely end up costing more innocent lives and incite more anger against the U.S. and Israel. The entire region is a giant powder keg. An unprovoked attack by the U.S. may be the catalyst the extremists are looking for. There are many diplomatic options that should be considered which will include the international community. At this point, would it be too far out there to think this regime could use it's people as human shields. Considering everyone in the world knows the U.S. is planning some type of a strike. What would stop the regime from doing that??

    September 3, 2013 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  3. davecu

    No lives lost to cover Barry's dumb, empty, ill-considered line in the sand statements

    Drop gas masks and medical supplies to the rebels.
    Something that can't can't be used to kill and should not inflame any side.
    Military action, on any level, will suck us into a morass not of our making.
    It's a set up.

    September 3, 2013 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  4. Arin23

    Please dont waste money doing war. spend that money within country, I dont think we pay tax for this kinds of wars.

    September 3, 2013 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  5. voice calling to pray for AMERICA and REPENT

    Pres. Obama already made his statement launching an attack to end this horror act in Syria. More people ordinary citizen or in the government are against this plan of attack. Syria and the countries whom I believed is supporting and supplying Syria of chemical weapons will think wisely that America has no capability to do what Pres. Obama already said before the eyes of the whole world. America also has no enough resource. The leader of Syria and his supporters have a very clever mindset. Then, one day we will be facing a surprise attack from these arrogant mad leader of Syria and his allied friends such as Iran and etc. I know how their minds works.

    September 3, 2013 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  6. Hillcrester

    Commenters who think they understand the pluses and minuses without having the intelligence briefings Congress members get are just deciding on the basis of general ideology. I don't know what we should do, except that the government should not pay any attention to uninformed public opinion.

    September 3, 2013 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  7. fred t post

    I can think of about 100 things congress and the President should be doing to help our country, not someone elses.

    September 3, 2013 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  8. NoAmero

    Of course chemical weapons being used on innocent Syrian civilians is the perfect scapegoat to do additional damage on an already damaged country, lets add more fuel to the already raging inferno this will make the fire cease. How does this logic work? There is a broader agenda, whatever happened to the trillion dollar debt we are trying to fix? Another full scale War will create the second Great Depression. They call us the richest nation that can not pay our debts. Get ready folks this may be the big one. Obama wanting to get congressional approval is a front.

    September 3, 2013 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  9. skb8721

    Assad is killing his own people, including innocents, with conventional and chemical weapons. We ought to stand up for what is right and put a stop to it. I am very much aware of the fact that this sounds naive, but sometimes for the sake of good one must pretend to be naive.

    September 3, 2013 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  10. voice calling to pray for AMERICA and REPENT


    2 Chronicles 7:13-14
    "If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, 14and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 15"Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to the prayer offered in this place.

    September 3, 2013 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  11. Henry Kissinger

    Don`t do it.

    September 3, 2013 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  12. Mike

    How much is this going to cost the American taxpayers who are already overtaxed! It costs taxpayers over 1 million for each cruise missile dropped. We dropped more than 800 missiles over Iraq. That cost us 800 million dollars. We are 16 Trillion dollars in debt now. This will lead us to bankruptcy.

    September 3, 2013 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  13. ron

    Saddam used gas on 50 times the number of people Assad supposedly did. Yet Democrats reviled Bush for invading Iraq. Now, after a decade of futile war in Iraq and Afghanistan, Kerry (who came to fame opposing Vietnam) is suddenly a war lover? This is all nutty.

    September 3, 2013 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  14. Tony

    There is a link between Al Qaueda and the rebels according to CNN. US is acting as the terrorists' Air Force now? Al Assad's regime will be replaced by a group of thugs worse than their predecessor.

    September 3, 2013 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  15. Dean

    Yes, we'll turn a blind eye to the people in need because those same people are believed to be Al Queda sympathizers who would shoot us if given the opportunity. This is Syria's war. We have no horse in the race. Let it play out. We got involved in Iraq, Libya, and Egypt and look how wonderful that turned out. At some point, you've got to learn your lesson.

    September 3, 2013 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  16. JustAGuy

    The poll seemed to have missed the sum total of the reasons Americans don't support a strike: we no longer trust our government. We don't trust them to tell us the truth. We don't trust them to give us all the facts and we no longer trust their judgement. The most glaring example of this is that the poll indicates Americans would be more likely to support action if other countries would be involved? Why? Because that tends to give credibility to our government's desire to start pressing buttons. See? The American people want more than the US Government's word. The revolution is starting...

    September 3, 2013 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  17. qa

    this part of the world is unstable, and has allways been

    September 3, 2013 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  18. kamarasune

    It is not right to ask one nation to shoulder the burden of policing the world. The U.S. has been in a state of perpetual war for 12 years and now we are being asked to attack a nation that is fighting the same extremist Al-Qaeda. It is as though our logic has turned upside down. When we have come to the doorstep smiling promising democracy it has proven to be nothing but destruction leaving bitterness. This is not who we are suppose to be as a people and I won't support it.

    September 3, 2013 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  19. Abnormal Sense

    Why don't the Obama administration tell the Assad regime to dismantle their weapon before launching a missile. Better yet, why don't America stop just mind their own business.

    September 4, 2013 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  20. John Robertson

    I have one question. Instead of President Obama using military force directly against Syria, why doesn't the President go before the UN and demand the arrest of President Bashar al-Assad to be brought before the International Criminal Court to stand trial for War Crimes?

    September 4, 2013 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  21. TheAbsurdity

    When issues are looked at from an unbiased angle nothing is complex. With that in mind, why don't we hear the Syrian's side of what is going on in their country? Furthermore, why is the general public removed from the classified meetings that will drag them into paying for a questionable military action? And when I say paying, I don't just mean through taxes. In the future, how will history look upon we the people?

    September 4, 2013 12:51 am at 12:51 am |
  22. mirageseekr

    As this administration is prepared to act just like the last and not seek UN approval I have to believe that it is because the grounds are probably as solid as the argument for going into Iraq. America has no moral high ground to stand on when it comes to weapons of mass destruction and chemical warfare and indeed we have not made a noble military action since WWll. America is fed up with wars to profit the 1% at the expense of our children and other innocents around the globe. If they get congressional approval, when it is so very clear that Americans object so strongly then it is really time to find out what information the NSA has gathered to support a corrupt agenda. All of you who say, I am not doing anything so I don't care if they spy, here is the reason why you should care. It is very easy to manipulate people when you know every detail about them.

    September 4, 2013 12:55 am at 12:55 am |
  23. Matt Cusumano

    Or course the US SHOULD NOT STRIKE:
    What right does the U.S. have to strike Syria. The only justification I see offered is the argument that we have to do it because we said we would, and we can never back down.
    I don't think the evidence is even close to convincing. I think we encourage the opposition to launch chemical attacks when Obama says (wink nod) the US will only intervene in the case of a chemical attack & when the administration will not even consider, evidence aside, that the "rebels" could have committed the attack to bring the U.S. in on their side. There is no downside for the rebels to conduct the attack, and no chance they will ever be accused or even investigated. Never mind that the "rebels" were caught in Turkey with 2 canisters of Sarin gas, and the fact that the "rebels" have used chemical weapons before, in Khan Al Asal on March 18th, 2013.
    Assad has never acted pathologically in the past, and has no history of committing self destructive acts, as this would be. He was doing everything he could to avoid a U.S. intervention. Why would he launch a chemical attack on the very day the UN inspectors arrived in Damascus (they arrived at the invitation of the Syrian government to investigate the March 18th chemical attack by the "rebels").
    I'm tired of my tax dollars going to support these terrorists in Syria who call themselves "rebels". Hillary once even called them "Freedom Fighters". They are trying to topple a secular government in favor of an Islamic government run under Sharia law, where people's civil rights are completely non-existant. We are supporting an Islamic insurrection, staffed by radical Jihadi's. What are we thinking?

    September 4, 2013 01:29 am at 1:29 am |
  24. mountainlady

    Syria is a "lose lose" situation of the highest order. President Obama has held out for months against a lot of pressure to act on Syria. The latest intel must have persuaded him. We don't know for sure who the rebels are. Ashad is obviously a villain but he's a villain in a sovereign nation. The bottom line for me is that I'm not sure that either side cares about the deaths of their own women and children. Also I'm tired of the US being the 911 number for the world. Can't we just shut down their chemical warfare ability? There has to be some compromise assistance we can give without possibly arming rebels who will be just as bad as Ashad if they gain control and without bankrupting the country.

    September 4, 2013 01:36 am at 1:36 am |
  25. No Bombs please

    The United States of America is not the World Police. The United Nations was created to deal with situations like this so let them handle it.

    September 4, 2013 01:39 am at 1:39 am |
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