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President Obama Faces Skeptical Public on Syria

President Obama Faces Skeptical Public on Syria

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Published by CBS_News
President Obama Faces Skeptical Public on Syria
President Obama Faces Skeptical Public on Syria

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Published by: CBS_News on Sep 10, 2013
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CBS NEWS/NEW YORK TIMES POLLFor release: Tuesday, September 10, 20133:00 am EDT
*Embargoed Until Tuesday, Sept. 10
at 3:00 am EDT*
President Obama Faces Skeptical Public on Syria
September 6-8, 2013
 A majority of Americans (61%) oppose U.S. airstrikes against Syria; just three in ten arein favor.
There are concerns that U.S. military action in Syria will become a long and costlyinvolvement (66% are very concerned), or will lead to a widespread regional war (64%).60% think it will increase the threat of terrorism against the U.S.
President Obama receives low marks for his handling of the issue: just 33% approve,and 56% disapprove. Only 14% say he has clearly explained what U.S. goals in Syriawould be.
While three in four think the Syrian government probably used chemical weapons, 65%do not think the U.S. has a responsibility to do something about the fighting in Syria.
69% say the President should not proceed with airstrikes if Congress does not authorizethem.61% currently oppose airstrikes in response to the reported chemical weapon attacks used bythe Syrian government; just 30% favor that. Opposition is stronger among Republicans andindependents than it is among Democrats.
U.S. Military Airstrikes Against Syria?
TotalRepsDemsIndsFavor30%28%41%23%Oppose61655067While six in ten are against airstrikes, even more (74%) are opposed to the U.S. providing armsto anti-government forces in Syria, and 86% oppose sending U.S. ground troops into Syria,something the administration has not proposed.
U.S. Action in Syria
FavorOpposeU.S. military airstrikes30%61Provide arms to anti-government forces19%74Sending U.S. ground troops12%86
Concerns and Repercussions
Opposition may stem in part from the real concerns Americans have about possiblerepercussions from U.S. military action in Syria. About two in three are very concerned thatsuch action will become a long and costly involvement for the U.S.; that it will lead to a morewidespread war in neighboring countries and other parts of the Middle East, and that it will kill or harm innocent civilians.
How Concerned are You That Military Action in Syria Would…?
VerySomewhatNot too/at allBecome a long and costly involvement66%2111Lead to a widespread war in the region64%26 9Kill or harm innocent civilians63%28 9Most Americans are also concerned that military involvement in Syria will make the possibility of a terrorist attack against the United States more likely. Majorities of Republicans, Democrats,and independents share this view.
Military Action Against Syria Will…
TotalRepsDemsIndIncrease the threat of terrorism60%67%55%61%Decrease the threat of terrorism 3 2 2 4No difference35294234More generally, most Americans continue to say the U.S. does not have a responsibility to dosomething about the fighting in Syria. Views have been consistent on this since late last year.
Does the U.S. Have a Responsibility in Syria?
Now6/2013 4/2013 3/201312/2012Yes28%28%24%20%27%No6561626962
Chemical Weapons and Airstrikes
Three in four Americans believe the Syrian government probably used chemical weaponsagainst civilians. There is agreement across party lines on this.
Think Syria Government Probably Used Chemical Weapons Against Civilians?
Total RepsDemsIndsProbably did75%77%82%69%Probably did not1010 712Dont know15131119If the U.S. does launch airstrikes against Syria, few think ousting that country’s president shouldbe the goal. Most Americans think airstrikes should be conducted only to stop the Syriangovernment from using chemical weapons. Just a quarter think airstrikes should continue untilPresident Bashar Assad is removed from power.
Should U.S. Airstrikes in Syria be Used To…?
Total RepsDemsIndsOnly stop chemical attacks on civilians63%62%61%64%Remove Pres. Assad from power24253216While 58% think airstrikes would be at least somewhat effective in stopping further use of chemical weapons, just 21% see them as very effective. Democrats express more confidencein the effectiveness of U.S. airstrikes than Republicans do.
Would Airstrikes Be Effective at Stopping More Chemical Weapon Attacks?
TotalRepsDemsIndsVery21%18%27%17%Somewhat37294535Not very/not at all3750243952% of Americans perceive the use of chemical weapons in Syria as a security threat to theUnited States, while 45% do not.Those who are following news about Syria more closely are more skeptical: most who say theyhave heard or read a lot about reports of chemical weapon use by the Syrian government do notthink that poses a threat to U.S. security.
Does Syria’s Use of Chemical Weapons Pose a Threat to the U.S.?
TotalFollowing news about chemical weapon useRespondentsA lotSomeNot muchYes52%46%58%63%No45513735While Americans agree that the situation in Syria is at least somewhat important to the interestsof the U.S., only a third consider it very important. Views were similar regarding Americaninterests in both Libya and Kosovo right before the U.S. engaged in airstrikes against those tworegions in 2011 and 1999.
Importance of What Happens in Syria to U.S. Interests
Syria (Now)Libya (3/2011)Kosovo 3/1999)Very important33%38%35%Somewhat important464443Not very/ important191416
The President and Congress
President Barack Obama receives low marks for his handling of the Syria issue: just 33%approve and a majority disapproves.
President Obama’s Job Ratings on Syria
TotalRepsDemsInd Approve33%17%52%28%Disapprove56773560By a large margin, most Americans say the Obama administration has not clearly explainedwhat U.S. goals are in Syria. While Democrats are more likely than Republicans or independents to say he has done so, most of them say he has not.

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