POLITICS
08/30/2013 09:14 am ET Updated Aug 15, 2014

Americans Doubt Syria Airstrikes Will Accomplish Goals, Polls Find

WASHINGTON -- Most Americans are doubtful that airstrikes in Syria would do much to curb the turmoil there, according to a new HuffPost/YouGov poll.

Just 18 percent thought U.S. airstrikes against the Syrian government would stop the use of chemical weapons there, while 48 percent thought they would not, and 34 percent were unsure.

An even smaller 10 percent thought airstrikes would help to end the fighting in Syria, while 57 percent disagreed.

Americans were also wary of the possibilities for a rising death toll and eventual mission creep.

Forty-two percent thought airstrikes would increase the rate of civilian casualties, and 47 percent that the mission would be a first step toward sending U.S. troops into Syria.

Voters across the political spectrum were wary, but Democrats were in many cases the least skeptical. Only 35 percent of Democrats predicted that airstrikes would increase civilian casualties, compared to 45 percent of independents and 47 percent of Republicans. Just 38 percent of Democrats thought the airstrikes would be a first step toward sending U.S. troops, while 51 percent of Republicans and independents thought it would.

Other national polling has found low or divided support for any airstrikes. In an earlier HuffPost/YouGov poll, just 25 percent thought the U.S. should use airstrikes to aid rebels in Syria.

When the suspected use of chemical weapons by Syrian President Bashar Assad is mentioned, public opinion seems to shift somewhat. In an NBC News poll released Friday, 50 percent said the U.S. should not take action against Syria in response to the use of chemical weapons, while 42 percent supported intervention. Just 21 percent said military action was in America's national interest, and 27 percent that it would improve the situation for Syrian civilians, with nearly a third or more saying they didn't know enough to answer either question. Seventy-nine percent said President Obama should be required to get approval from Congress.

The use of chemical weapons represented a "red line" that required a response, 58 percent said. Fifty-six percent said stopping such use should be the main objective of any military action. Just 16 percent thought the main purpose of intervening should be to depose Assad, and just 15 percent said the goal should be stopping the fighting between government and rebel forces.

The HuffPost/YouGov poll was conducted Aug. 27 and Aug. 28 among 1,000 adults using a sample selected from YouGov's opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population. Factors considered include age, race, gender, education, employment, income, marital status, number of children, voter registration, time and location of Internet access, interest in politics, religion and church attendance.

The Huffington Post has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls. You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov's nationally representative opinion polling.

ALSO ON HUFFPOST:

PHOTO GALLERIES
Syria War In August (Warning: Graphic Images)
Subscribe to the Politics email.
How will Trump’s administration impact you?

CONVERSATIONS