Support for military action against Syria continues to plummet, according to a new HuffPost/YouGov poll. And even the few Americans who back airstrikes want to avoid them if Syria is willing to give up its stock of chemical weapons.
The latest poll found only 12 percent of Americans who said they supported strikes, compared to 61 percent who said they did not. That's down from 25 percent who backed airstrikes in another HuffPost/YouGov poll conducted two weeks ago. A string of other surveys released this week has similarly found support for intervention falling, along with little sense among Americans that the U.S. should play a role in ending the violence in Syria.
The new HuffPost/YouGov poll was conducted after Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday that Syria could avoid U.S. strikes by turning over its entire chemical weapons stock to international authorities and after Syria's ally Russia backed such a plan if the U.S. did not attack. The poll was also conducted almost entirely before President Barack Obama spoke to the nation Tuesday night (942 of 1,000 respondents had completed the survey before the speech began). In his speech, Obama argued for military action if necessary, but said he would postpone action to allow time for diplomatic solutions.
Even among the small group of respondents who said they support airstrikes, 66 percent said that the U.S. should unleash military force only if Syria does not relinquish its chemical weapons.
Americans are opposed to airstrikes even though 53 percent think that Syria's government has used chemical weapons, while only 6 percent think it hasn't. Most are skeptical about the effectiveness of taking military action in this case: Just 9 percent said they think launching strikes against Syria would stop the use of chemical weapons there, while 62 percent said it would not.
Still, the survey found that support for military action would increase to 37 percent if Syria were to keep attacking its own people with chemical weapons. Forty-three percent said they would remain opposed. Even if U.S. military intervention would end Syria's civil war, Americans said they would oppose it, by 46 percent to 30 percent.
Congressional approval would not change many minds. Just 12 percent would support military action if it were not authorized by Congress, while 68 percent said they would be opposed. If Congress were to approve airstrikes, support would rise only to 26 percent, but 57 percent would remain opposed.
The HuffPost/YouGov poll was conducted Sept. 9 to 10 among 1,000 U.S. 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.