The American Public Understands Obama’s Position on Syria. They Just Disagree With It.


Greg Sargent notes today the results of a new CNN poll: 82 percent of Americans believe that Bashar al-Assad launched a chemical weapons attack against his own people. Nonetheless, 59 percent are opposed to U.S. military action against Syria:

What this underscores, again, is that the case against Assad has already been made successfully, and that it isn’t enough. The White House has yet to persuade Americans to accept the underlying rationale behind strikes — that they would deter further attacks, or that the potential upsides of intervening, whatever they are, outweigh the potential risks.

I think that’s right. It’s not that Obama’s case is “muddled” or “weak,” or that people aren’t paying attention. They know what Assad has done, and they know why Obama wants to launch air strikes against him. They just don’t agree. This means that if Obama wants to win over public opinion, a more robust version of his current argument probably will move the needle only a little bit. He needs something different.

However, I’d also draw your attention to this:

The American public may be against air strikes, but generally speaking, they don’t really seem to care much. This is both good news and bad for Obama. The good news is that this means most Democrats won’t punish their representatives for voting for the war. The bad news is that most Republicans won’t punish them for voting against it. The other 42 percent say they might, though frankly I kind of doubt it. Still, I’d sure like to see some crosstabs that tell us the partisan makeup of the 31 percent who are more likely to vote for their representative if they’re against a military strike.

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is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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