More Americans Have Supported Syrian Air Strikes Than Opposed

Forty-nine percent of Americans back strikes by cruise missiles and drones that don't risk U.S. lives, the Quinnipiac poll found, with 38 percent opposed

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Ammar Abdullah/REUTERS

Free Syrian Army fighters deploy in Aleppo's town of Khanasir after seizing it August 26, 2013.

Correction Appended, Aug. 27 12:01 p.m.

A plurality of Americans supported potential air strikes on Syrian government installations in a poll this summer by Quinnipiac University.

Forty-nine percent of Americans backed strikes by cruise missiles and drones that don’t risk U.S. lives, the poll found, with 38 percent opposed. The poll, which was conducted in late June and early July, did not ask whether Americans would support manned air strikes.

But majorities of Americans say it is not in the interest of the United States to involve itself in the Syrian conflict and are opposed to providing military aid to the Syrian opposition.

Dissatisfaction with his foreign policy performance is dragging down President Barack Obama’s approval rating, the poll found. Only 40% approve of his handling of foreign policy, with 52 percent disapproving, while his overall approval rating is underwater at 44%.

The polling highlights the narrow path of options available to Obama, who has ruled out American boots on the ground in Syria, even as his administration is pledging to hold the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad accountable for the use of chemical weapons.

Administration officials say Obama has yet to reach a decision on the appropriate response to the attack, but the White House is consulting with congressional lawmakers in preparation for a decision.

Younger Americans were slightly more hawkish on Syria, while political independents are the most dovish on engaging in the conflict.

Quinnipiac University surveyed 2,014 registered voters from June 28 – July 8 with a margin of error of +/- 2.2 percentage points.

Correction: The original version of this story incorrectly stated that this poll had been conducted after the most recent reports of chemical weapons attacks in Syria. It has been corrected.