NBC poll: Half of Americans oppose U.S. military action in Syria

NBC poll: Half of Americans oppose U.S. military action in Syria
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POSTED: Friday, August 30, 2013 - 11:48am

UPDATED: Friday, August 30, 2013 - 3:17pm

Fifty percent of Americans say they oppose the United States taking military action in response to Syria using chemical weapons, and nearly eight in 10 believe President Barack Obama should receive congressional approval before using any force, according to a new NBC News poll. Yet the public is more supportive of military action against the Syrian regime when the scope is limited to using cruise missiles launched from U.S. naval ships.

The two-day poll was conducted as the Obama administration weighs launching strikes against Syria for its alleged use of chemicals weapons in its violent civil war, as well as amid growing demands by U.S. lawmakers that Congress should have a voice whether or not to authorize force. On Thursday night, the Obama administration briefed members of Congress in its effort to make the case that the Syrian government used chemical weapons on its own citizens. Also on Thursday, Britain’s parliament rejected a motion urging an international response to the use of chemical weapons there.

In this new NBC poll, 50 percent of respondents oppose the United States taking military action in response to Syria’s use of chemical weapons, compared with 42 percent who support it.

However, those numbers flip when the military action is defined to mean launching cruise missiles from naval warships – 50 percent favor it, while 44 percent oppose it. And 58 percent agree with the statement that the use of chemical weapons by any country violates a “red line” that requires a significant U.S. response, including the possibility of U.S. action. Still, a whopping 79 percent of respondents – including nearly seven in 10 Democrats and 90 percent of Republicans – say the president should be required to receive congressional approval before taking any action.

The poll also finds that only 21 percent think taking action against the Syrian government is in the United States’ national interest. By comparison, 33 percent disagree and 45 percent don’t know enough to have an opinion. And just 27 percent say that U.S. military force will improve the situation for Syrian civilians, versus 41 percent who say it won’t. Obama’s job approval at 44 percent

The NBC poll also shows that President Obama’s overall job-approval rating has dropped one point since last month to 44 percent, which is tied for his lowest mark in the survey. He gets even lower marks on foreign policy: Just 41 percent approve of his handling of the issue – an all-time low. And only 35 percent approve of his handling of the situation in Syria.

The NBC poll was conducted Aug. 28-29 of 700 adults (including 210 cell phone-only respondents), and it has a margin of plus-minus 3.7 percentage points.

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