Game over: Pew poll shows opposition to Syria strike up 15 points in just a week

It’s one thing to ask Congress to take a tough vote when the polls are bad, it’s another to ask them to take a tough vote when the polls are getting worse despite a big White House PR push.

Show of hands: Who wants to gamble their House or Senate seat on the chance that an attack on Syria won’t go terribly wrong and drive public support down even further?

Over just the past week, the share of Americans who oppose U.S. airstrikes in Syria has surged 15 points, from 48% to 63%, as many who were undecided about the issue have turned against military action. By contrast, the share of Americans who support airstrikes remains virtually unchanged: Just 28% favor U.S. military airstrikes against Syria in response to reports that its government used chemical weapons.

The new survey by the Pew Research Center and USA TODAY, conducted Sept. 4-8, 2013 among 1,506 adults nationwide, finds that this growing opposition to Syrian airstrikes is intense: 45% say they oppose airstrikes very strongly. That is roughly three-times the percentage (16%) that strongly favors airstrikes.

Opposition is up across partisan lines, marginally in the case of Democrats (from 48 percent a week ago to a majority of 53 percent now) and dramatically among Republicans and independents (from 40 to 70 percent and 50 to 66 percent, respectively). Obama’s job approval on foreign policy now stands at … 33/57. And that’s not all:


Republican and Democratic shifts along partisan lines are predictable, but check out the indies. There’s more support now for letting Congress decide than there was for the much more ambitious Iraq invasion of 2002. Is that a function of post-9/11 support for an aggressive commander-in-chief wearing off after a decade of war or is it a comment on O bleeding away the remnants of his credibility on foreign policy generally and Syria specifically, where his approval rating has fallen to 29/56?

WaPo’s whip count in the House, by the way, stands at 238 likely no’s, many of which are bound to firm up now that Pew shows public support for an attack deteriorating the more the public pays attention to it. National Journal theorized this morning, before Kerry’s latest episodes of drooling on himself, that being back in the Beltway bubble might insulate congressional fencesitters from constituent opposition, but anecdotally all signs point to no: A House GOP leadership source tells NRO that Obama can expect no more than 30-40 yes votes from Republicans, and a Senate source claims that 60 votes to defeat an anti-war filibuster is now in doubt. In fact, judging from the lack of White House outreach to Republican hawks in the House, they’ve given up on the GOP; if this is going to happen, Pelosi’s going to have to work a miracle and deliver almost the entire Democratic caucus in favor. Via the Corner, watch this clip of Democrat Jim McGovern from yesterday and tell me how likely that sounds.

Update: Confirmation via ABC/WaPo, whose new poll also shows opposition to attacking Syria rising over the past week. Once again it’s Republicans who are driving the surge against intervening, although opposition is up slightly among Democrats and independents too.