Americans Are Against War With Syria, But Obama and Congress Won't Listen

The Pew Research Center conducted a survey from Aug. 29-Sept. 1 that polled 1,000 adults identified as Democrat, Republican, or Independent over Obama administration's pending plans to attack Syria following a chemical weapons attack in late August that killed scores of civilians. According to the national study, a 48%-29% overall margin showed that American participants are against the Syrian airstrikes, with 48% of Democrats, 50% of Independents, and 40% of Republicans in opposition. An April survey administered by Pew Research examining whether military force is required if chemical weapons are found in Syria conveyed that Americans were in support of military action (45% to 31% margin).

The statistical difference of both studies is quite low leading to the question of how seriously we should take these studies into account when deciding whether or not the U.S. should execute airstrikes in Syria. It's highly improbable these studies will have a direct impact on Congress and the Obama administration. Another variable to consider is how well-informed the American people are regarding Obama’s plan to attack Syria.

Only 32% of Americans say Obama has adequately explained why the U.S. should launch military airstrikes against Syria, while 48% say he has not explained the reasons clearly enough. Is it that people don't understand his intentions and national interests in bombing Syria, or that he actually isn't clearly defining his aims? The study is unclear on this; although results showed "nearly half oppose airstrikes among the most and least attentive segments of the public." Based on this finding, opinions don't drastically change even if people are informed of Obama's goals in attacking Syria.

Another study, an ABC News/Washington Post poll, demonstrates similar results: six in 10 Americans oppose U.S. missile strikes against Syria. However, greater acceptance is shown if Great Britain and France participated, which perhaps communicates the fear of the American people potentially going to war with Syria solo should military action take place. Again, these poll results convey low impact statistical support for opposition to Syrian attacks. Also, data is insufficient in explaining why the favor for military action slightly increases by 10% if other countries backed Obama's plan.

While it's interesting to examine the opinions of the American people divided by political party (as seen on the study), it doesn't seem very likely that U.S. politicians will take these studies too seriously. The studies are beneficial in providing limited analysis and insights on what the American people want, but as with any national poll, it's important to consider sampling errors and confounding variables.

With statistical evidence showing the opposing and accepting sides closely aligned, it's even more unlikely these national polls will catch the eyes of key policymakers.