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

Polls: Should U.S. launch strikes against Syria?
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Tuesday, September 3, 2013 - 5:34pm

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

 

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