Americans Overwhelmingly Oppose Syria Strike, Want Obama to Back Down

United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll says people want U.S. to find another way to punish Assad for chemical weapons.

Protesters against U.S. intervention in Syria march during a demonstration in Boston, Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013. 
National Journal
Ronald Brownstein
Sept. 9, 2013, 5:59 p.m.

Pres­id­ent Obama con­tin­ues to face broad pub­lic op­pos­i­tion to mil­it­ary in­ter­ven­tion in Syr­ia and an over­whelm­ing con­sensus that he should not launch at­tacks if Con­gress denies him au­thor­iz­a­tion, the latest United Tech­no­lo­gies/Na­tion­al Journ­al Con­gres­sion­al Con­nec­tion Poll has found.

As the pres­id­ent pre­pares to make his case in a na­tion­ally tele­vised ad­dress, the sur­vey found that op­pos­i­tion to in­ter­ven­tion in Syr­ia largely tran­scends the par­tis­an, ra­cial, age, and re­gion­al bound­ar­ies that frac­ture the pub­lic on al­most all oth­er ma­jor is­sues.

Not only do sol­id ma­jor­it­ies of Re­pub­lic­ans and in­de­pend­ents op­pose the use of force against Syr­ia but so does a strong plur­al­ity of Demo­crats, ac­cord­ing to the poll. Only a mea­ger 13 per­cent of those polled—in­clud­ing just one-fifth of Demo­crats—say Obama should strike Syr­ia any­way if Con­gress does not ap­prove.

On the broad­est ques­tion, the sur­vey noted that “the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion has con­cluded that the gov­ern­ment of Syr­ia used chem­ic­al weapons, in­clud­ing nerve gas, to kill over 1,400 ci­vil­ians last month” and asked re­spond­ents how the U.S. should re­spond. A sol­id 55 per­cent ma­jor­ity said the U.S. should “do noth­ing and stay out of the Syr­i­an civil war.” Just 21 per­cent en­dorsed the op­tion Obama prefers: launch­ing “a lim­ited mil­it­ary strike, us­ing only air power, to pun­ish the Syr­i­an gov­ern­ment for us­ing chem­ic­al weapons.”

Few pre­ferred more-ag­gress­ive op­tions, with 6 per­cent say­ing the U.S. should mount a sus­tained air cam­paign “to help rebels over­throw the Syr­i­an gov­ern­ment” and 6 per­cent more say­ing the U.S. should pur­sue re­gime change with both air power and ground troops. The fi­nal 12 per­cent said they didn’t know what the U.S. should do.

These res­ults sug­gest the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s pub­lic-re­la­tions ef­forts have stalled since last week, when an ABC/Wash­ing­ton Post poll sim­il­arly found 59 per­cent of Amer­ic­ans op­posed to mis­sile strikes against Syr­ia.

Per­haps the most strik­ing as­pect of the new find­ings was their con­sist­ency across demo­graph­ic and party lines. Whites were slightly more likely than non­whites, and wo­men slightly more likely than men, to ar­gue that the U.S. should “do noth­ing,” but in all four groups a ma­jor­ity picked that op­tion. Like­wise, while seni­ors re­coiled the most (with nearly two-thirds op­pos­ing), just un­der half of adults un­der 30, nearly three-fifths of those between 30 and 49, and half of those from 50-64 also said the U.S. should not in­ter­vene.

Even across party lines the dif­fer­ences were muted. While 60 per­cent of Re­pub­lic­ans said the U.S. should “do noth­ing,” so did 58 per­cent of in­de­pend­ents and 48 per­cent of Demo­crats. (Lim­ited strikes drew sup­port from 18 per­cent of both Re­pub­lic­ans and in­de­pend­ents, and from 31 per­cent of Demo­crats.) Some of the groups that typ­ic­ally take the most hawk­ish po­s­i­tions on na­tion­al se­cur­ity also ex­pressed sub­stan­tial res­ist­ance: Fully 58 per­cent of South­ern and rur­al re­spond­ents, as well as 55 per­cent of non­col­lege white men, all said the U.S. should do noth­ing in re­sponse to the at­tack. In all these ways, the sur­vey found at­ti­tudes among the pub­lic broadly par­al­lel­ing the un­usu­al lib­er­al/liber­tari­an co­ali­tion res­ist­ing Obama in Con­gress.

The latest United Tech­no­lo­gies/Na­tion­al Journ­al Con­gres­sion­al Con­nec­tion Poll, con­duc­ted by Prin­ceton Sur­vey Re­search As­so­ci­ates In­ter­na­tion­al, sur­veyed 1,002 adults by land­line and cell phone from Sept. 5 to 8. It has a mar­gin of er­ror of plus or minus 3.6 per­cent­age points.

The same broad-based res­ist­ance gen­er­ally re­sur­faced on the more im­me­di­ate ques­tion of what Con­gress should do next. Fifty-two per­cent of re­spond­ents said they pre­ferred their mem­bers of Con­gress to vote against the pres­id­ent’s re­quest “for au­thor­iz­a­tion to con­duct a lim­ited mil­it­ary strike on the Syr­i­an gov­ern­ment,” while 37 per­cent said they wanted their mem­bers to sup­port it.

Once again, a ma­jor­ity of both men and wo­men, and a ma­jor­ity or plur­al­ity of adults in all four age groups, and in all four re­gions of the coun­try, said their con­gres­sion­al rep­res­ent­at­ives should op­pose the re­quest. But re­sponses to this ques­tion sug­ges­ted Obama was mak­ing some lim­ited pro­gress in ral­ly­ing Demo­crats: While 63 per­cent of Re­pub­lic­ans, and 54 per­cent of in­de­pend­ents, said their con­gres­sion­al rep­res­ent­at­ives should op­pose the re­quest, Demo­crats, by 50 per­cent to 41 per­cent, said Con­gress should back him. A slim plur­al­ity of non­whites also said Con­gress should au­thor­ize mil­it­ary ac­tion. On the oth­er hand, both young adults and col­lege-edu­cated white wo­men, two oth­er pil­lars of Obama’s “co­ali­tion of the as­cend­ant,” were no more likely than the coun­try over­all to say Con­gress should ap­prove force.

Not­ing that Obama “says he has the leg­al au­thor­ity to strike Syr­ia with or without con­gres­sion­al ap­prov­al,” the sur­vey also asked re­spond­ents what the pres­id­ent should do if Con­gress re­jects his re­quest. Only 13 per­cent of those polled said he should “go ahead with a mil­it­ary strike.” That idea faced wide­spread res­ist­ance even among the pres­id­ent’s core sup­port­ers, win­ning back­ing from just 20 per­cent of Demo­crats, 17 per­cent of minor­it­ies, 12 per­cent of col­lege-edu­cated white wo­men, and 10 per­cent of young adults.

The largest group of those polled, an­oth­er 46 per­cent, said that if Con­gress says no, Obama should “find an­oth­er means to pun­ish Syr­ia, such as eco­nom­ic or dip­lo­mat­ic sanc­tions or cov­ert ac­tion.” That was the most pop­u­lar op­tion among Re­pub­lic­ans, Demo­crats (49 per­cent among each), and in­de­pend­ents (44 per­cent) alike.

An­oth­er 35 per­cent of those polled said that if Con­gress balks, Obama should neither at­tack nor seek to pun­ish Syr­ia through oth­er means. That sen­ti­ment was slightly stronger among in­de­pend­ents (38 per­cent) and Re­pub­lic­ans (37 per­cent) than Demo­crats, but even 28 per­cent of them said that Obama should not tar­get Syr­ia through any meth­od if Con­gress re­jects mil­it­ary force.

{{ BIZOBJ (video: 4428) }}

What We're Following See More »
STAYING RELEVANT TIL 2020?
Rubio May Run for Reelection After All
11 hours ago
WHY WE CARE
AKNOWLEDGING THE INEVITABLE
UAW: Time to Unite Behind Hillary
14 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"It's about time for unity," said UAW President Dennis Williams. "We're endorsing Hillary Clinton. She's gotten 3 million more votes than Bernie, a million more votes than Donald Trump. She's our nominee." He called Sanders "a great friend of the UAW" while saying Trump "does not support the economic security of UAW families." Some 28 percent of UAW members indicated their support for Trump in an internal survey.

Source:
AP KEEPING COUNT
Trump Clinches Enough Delegates for the Nomination
16 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Donald Trump on Thursday reached the number of delegates needed to clinch the Republican nomination for president, completing an unlikely rise that has upended the political landscape and sets the stage for a bitter fall campaign. Trump was put over the top in the Associated Press delegate count by a small number of the party's unbound delegates who told the AP they would support him at the convention."

Source:
TRUMP FLOATED IDEA ON JIMMY KIMMEL’S SHOW
Trump/Sanders Debate Before California Primary?
17 hours ago
THE LATEST
CAMPAIGNS INJECTED NEW AD MONEY
California: It’s Not Over Yet
17 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Clinton and Bernie Sanders "are now devoting additional money to television advertising. A day after Sanders announced a new ad buy of less than $2 million in the state, Clinton announced her own television campaign. Ads featuring actor Morgan Freeman as well as labor leader and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta will air beginning on Fridayin Fresno, Sacramento, and Los Angeles media markets. Some ads will also target Latino voters and Asian American voters. The total value of the buy is about six figures according to the Clinton campaign." Meanwhile, a new poll shows Sanders within the margin of error, trailing Clinton 44%-46%.

Source:
×