We call making appearances on all five major Sunday talk shows the “full Ginsburg,” but Barack Obama may create a new term today with interviews on all six major news networks. Call it the “full Desperado.” Obama will make his case for military attacks on Syria to a highly skeptical public in a desperate attempt to avoid disaster on Capitol Hill this week:
President Obama spends much of Monday in front of television cameras, giving interviews on Syria ahead of major congressional votes.
Obama speaks with anchors at ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, CNN, and PBS, seeking support for a military strike at Bashar Assad’s government over the use of chemical weapons. …
The television interviews are part of a major lobbying effort as Congress prepares to vote on authorizing military action.
The President has already made the public case for intervention a number of times, with press conferences that have done more to undermine his credibility than make a case, and with Secretary of State John Kerry testifying on Capitol Hill and doing a series of interviews to argue the case more forcefully than Obama has. Has any of that made a dent in public opinion? According to CNN’s latest poll, the answer is a reverberating no:
As President Barack Obama presses his case for a strike on Syria, a new national survey shows him swimming against a strong tide of public opinion that doesn’t want the U.S. to get involved.
The CNN/ORC International poll released Monday shows that even though eight in 10 Americans believe that Bashar al-Assad’s regime gassed its own people, a strong majority doesn’t want Congress to pass a resolution authorizing a military strike against it.
More than seven in 10 say such a strike would not achieve significant goals for the U.S. and a similar amount say it’s not in the national interest for the U.S. to get involved in Syria’s bloody two-year-long civil war.
According to the poll, 59% oppose the authorization in Congress for military action, and 55% would oppose military action even if Congress authorized it. Democrats favor the resolution, 56/43 with Republicans at 36/63, and independents even more strongly in opposition at 29/67. Majorities oppose it in every geographical region, every gender and ethnic demo, and in every age demo. In fact, the only demo to favor the authorization at all is Democrats. On military action with an approved authorization, things don’t improve much. Democrats narrowly favor action with authorization, 51/47 with Republicans exactly flipped at 47/51, but independents strongly oppose it by 36/61. Majorities oppose it in every geographical region, every gender and ethnic demo, and in every age demo except 50-64YOs, where it ties 49/49. [See update.]
If Obama doesn’t get the authorization, though, the numbers get very bad indeed. Seventy-one percent would oppose military action in that case, a proportion that carries through every demographic except for Democrats (still opposed at 36/63), non-whites (34/66), and 50-64YOs (33/67). About the same percentage doesn’t think military strikes will “achieve significant goals for the United States,” 26/72, which explains why 69% of respondents don’t think that the US has a national interest in the Syrian civil war. That, by the way, includes 56% of Democrats.
The only good news for Obama in this poll is that a majority of respondents say that their votes in the midterms won’t be impacted by the vote on the authorization (57%). However, among those who will take that into account fourteen months from now, sentiment runs nearly 3:1 against at 11/31. It’s 4:1 among independents at 9/36, and 5:1 in the West (7/38), where Democrats hoped to make gains against Republicans with social-libertarian policies.
Obama has a very tough climb against this kind of entrenched skepticism, and so far the White House case isn’t having any impact at all. That’s why Obama is throwing himself into the full Desperado tonight.
Update: Via Guy Benson, I pulled the wrong demos on the question of the authorization; the actual demos are even worse for Obama.