What Americans think about U.S. strike on Syria

Last Updated Apr 10, 2017 10:31 AM EDT

By Jennifer De Pinto, Fred Backus, Kabir Khanna and Anthony Salvanto    

Fifty-seven percent of Americans approve of the airstrike against Syrian military targets -- calling immoral the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons that led to the strike -- but most are leery of any military involvement beyond airstrikes, a CBS News poll shows.

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President Trump’s overall approval rating edged up, though most respondents voice unease about his approach to Syria going forward, and say Congress must authorize further actions there.

Few Americans are willing to see the U.S. get involved in Syria beyond the use of airstrikes. Only 18 percent would want ground troops. Half of Republicans would limit involvement to either airstrikes or diplomacy, and Democrats largely would focus on diplomatic efforts.

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Seven-in-ten Americans think Mr. Trump needs to get authorization from Congress before any further action against Syria; more than half of Republicans agree. 

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Americans support last week’s U.S. strike in part because most say the use of chemical weapons is immoral. There’s more division on whether it constitutes a direct threat to the U.S.

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Back in 2013, most Republicans opposed the idea of airstrikes against Syria by President Obama, and half of Democrats were opposed then, as well.

Since the strike. Mr. Trump’s overall job approval rating has seen an increase to 43 percent.  Slightly fewer now disapprove than did before. Forty-nine percent now disapprove of his performance.

The increase in approval is driven mainly by independents, who are now at 42 percent approval up from 34 percent, while Republicans have held steady.

There is still some concern about the president’s ability to handle the Syria situation going forward. Nearly eight-in-ten Republicans express confidence in Mr. Trump on that, while most Democrats do not. Independents are more uneasy about the handling going forward even as they are approving of the strike last week.

Fewer Americans now see the president’s approach to Russia as “too friendly” than did in February. The drop is largely among independents.

And looking across the globe to another trouble spot, North Korea, more than half are uneasy about Mr. Trump’s ability to handle the situation with their nuclear program.


This poll was conducted by telephone April 7-9, 2017 among a random sample of 1,006 adults nationwide.  Data collection was conducted on behalf of CBS News by SSRS of Media, PA.  Phone numbers were dialed from samples of both standard land-line and cell phones.

The poll employed a random digit dial methodology. For the landline sample, a respondent was randomly selected from all adults in the household. For the cell sample, interviews were conducted with the person who answered the phone.

Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish using live interviewers. The data have been weighted to reflect U.S. Census figures on demographic variables.

The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus four percentage points. The error for subgroups may be higher and is available by request. The margin of error includes the effects of standard weighting procedures which enlarge sampling error slightly.

This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls. 

CBS News poll toplines