Americans Oppose U.S. Military Involvement in Syria
Politics

Americans Oppose U.S. Military Involvement in Syria

by Jeffrey M. Jones

Public does not expect diplomatic efforts to succeed in ending civil war

PRINCETON, NJ -- Sixty-eight percent of Americans say the United States should not use military action in Syria to attempt to end the civil war there if diplomatic and economic efforts fail, while 24% would favor U.S. military involvement.

Suppose all economic and diplomatic efforts fail to end the civil war in Syria. If that happens, do you think the United States should -- or should not -- use military action to attempt to end the conflict? May 2013 results

Americans are not optimistic that the conflict between government and rebel forces in Syria will be solved through diplomatic and economic means. The May 28-29 Gallup poll finds that Americans do not believe such efforts will resolve the conflict, by 58% to 27%.

Thus, Americans seem to have a clear preference for keeping the U.S. military out of the Syrian conflict, given their opposition to such involvement even though they expect that diplomatic efforts will fail to bring peace.

Sen. John McCain recently visited Syria; he has favored providing arms to the anti-government forces there. To date, the Obama administration's actions have been limited to participating in third-party peace talks and providing food and medical aid to anti-government forces. However, the administration says it is keeping its options open.

Forty-nine percent of Americans say they are following news about the Syrian conflict "very" or "somewhat" closely. That is below the historical average of 60% for more than 200 news events Gallup has measured since 1992.

Consensus Among Subgroups Against Military Action

There are relatively modest differences by subgroup in the percentage who say the United States should use military action in Syria. Republicans are somewhat more likely than Democrats to support U.S. military action, 31% to 20%. College graduates are less inclined to support U.S. military involvement than those without a college degree.

Should U.S. Use Military Force to Attempt to End Syrian Civil War, by Subgroup, May 2013

Expectations about the likely success of economic and diplomatic efforts at ending the Syrian conflict show greater subgroup differences. Democrats, nonwhites, and younger adults are more optimistic about the prospects for peace talks, while Republicans and older Americans are especially pessimistic. Sixty-eight percent of those closely following the news about Syria do not believe economic and diplomatic efforts will be able to end the civil war.

Belief That Economic and Diplomatic Efforts Can Resolve Syrian Conflict, by Subgroup, May 2013

Implications

Americans are not hopeful that the Syrian civil war will end through nonmilitary means, but do not want the U.S. military to get involved to end the conflict. Americans' views on Syria are likely influenced by the position of government leaders, who to date have not advocated a strong U.S. response to the Syrian civil war.

But the American public may also be wary of getting involved in a war after the United States' long engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan. For example, Americans were less likely to approve of the U.S. military action in Libya in 2011 than they were to approve of other military actions the U.S. took in the past 30 years.

Officials from the United States, Russia, and the United Nations plan to meet next week to discuss possible solutions to the conflict. Multinational peace talks involving the Syrian factions are also tentatively scheduled to take place in Geneva, Switzerland, next month. However, it is unclear at this point whether both sides in the Syrian conflict will attend, as well as which outside countries will be allowed to participate. Ultimately, U.S. policy toward Syria will be shaped by the outcome of those diplomatic efforts, as well as the actions of countries supportive of the Syrian government, such as Russia and Iran.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted May 28-29, 2013, on the Gallup Daily tracking survey, with a random sample of 1,011 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by region. Landline telephone numbers are chosen at random among listed telephone numbers. Cellphone numbers are selected using random digit dial methods. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.

Samples are weighted to correct for unequal selection probability, nonresponse, and double coverage of landline and cell users in the two sampling frames. They are also weighted to match the national demographics of gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, population density, and phone status (cellphone only/landline only/both, cellphone mostly, and having an unlisted landline number). Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2012 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older U.S. population. Phone status targets are based on the July-December 2011 National Health Interview Survey. Population density targets are based on the 2010 census. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

View methodology, full question results, and trend data.

For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit www.gallup.com.

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