President Obama has a lot of convincing to do in the national address he’ll give Tuesday night.
A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows that 58% of American want their representatives to vote against a resolution for military force in Syria, compared to 33% that want Congress to authorize the strikes.
Despite the president’s intense PR campaign on the issue, opposition to military action in Syria has increased in recent weeks, as support for limited strikes using cruise missiles dropped to 44%–a six-point drop from last month, and 47% say a strike is not in the United States’ national interest, a 14-point increase since last month.
Should Congress vote to authorize the strikes, only 36% support Obama going ahead with the mission. Further, 59% would oppose action without Congressional approval. President Obama told NBC’s Savannah Guthrie in an interview on Monday that he has not yet decided what he would do if Congress rejected the resolution for action.
Only 28% approve of President Obama’s handling of the situation in Syria, down 7 points from August.
The new poll shows that it’s not just Syria that Americans don’t want to get involved in. Nearly three-fourths–74%–of Americans agreed that the U.S. should do less around the world and focus more on domestic problems; 22% think that America should promote democracy and freedom internationally in an effort to increase U.S. national security. NBC’s Mark Murray notes the significant change in these numbers from the last time the questions were asked in 2005: then, 54% agreed to a more domestic focus while 33% wanted more attention to pushing for democracy and freedom.
While the military option against Syria is still very much on the table, Americans hoping for other alternatives saw a new possibility emerging. Secretary of State John Kerry remarked on Monday during a press conference in Britain that military action could be averted if Assad “could turn over every bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week.” Russian and Syrian officials both seized on the remarks and Russian foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov offered a follow-up proposal on the idea involving diplomatic, not military, action. Obama has called this a “potentially positive development” but made clear that he would still continue to push for military action.
The president is set to speak Tuesday night at 9:01:30PM from the East Room.
The NBC/WSJ poll was conducted Sept. 5-8 of 1,000 adults (including 300 cell phone-only respondents), and it has an overall margin of error of plus-minus 3.1 percentage points.