Americans oppose supplying military aid to Syrian rebels, but they are not paying much attention to the situation in Syria, according to new national polls.
In a Gallup poll released Monday, 54 percent of respondents said they disapproved of the Obama administration’s decision to “supply direct military aid to Syrian rebels fighting against the government in Syria,” while 37 percent said they approved.
Approval was higher among those following the situation closely, with 44 percent approving and 51 percent disapproving of President Obama’s decision. But the poll found that only 48 percent of the public is following the situation very or somewhat closely. Among those not following it closely, 31 percent approved and 57 percent disapproved of the decision.
Among Democrats, 51 percent approved. This, Gallup said, is most likely in part because the decision to send arms to Syrian rebel forces was made by the Obama administration, a fact that was mentioned in the question. Majorities of Republicans and independents disapproved.
A Pew Research Center poll released Monday asked respondents if they favored or opposed the United States and its allies “sending arms and military supplies to anti-government groups in Syria,” with no mention of the Obama administration. Polling began Wednesday night, before the White House’s announcement on Thursday, and continued through Sunday. It found 70 percent opposed, with little difference based on party affiliation, and no significant differences between the first two nights of polling and the last three.
Delving further, the poll found wide agreement that United States military forces are too overcommitted to get involved in another conflict, and that Syrian opposition groups may not be any better than the current government. Fewer, but still a majority, agree that it is important for the United States to support people who oppose authoritarian regimes. But Americans are closely split over whether the country has a moral obligation to do what it can to stop the violence in Syria.
Like the Gallup poll, a separate Pew poll found low attention to the situation in Syria. Fewer than half of the respondents, 45 percent, said they closely followed the charges that Syria had used chemical weapons against anti-government groups, including just 15 percent who said they followed the charges “very closely.”
The polls were conducted nationwide on landlines and cellphones. The Gallup poll was conducted June 15-16 among 1,015 adults and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus four percentage points. The Pew Research Center poll was conducted June 12-16 among 1,512 adults and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points. The Pew Research Center poll on attention to issues in the news was conducted June 13-16 among 1,004 adults and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus four percentage points.