The Washington Times - September 3, 2013, 02:01PM

Two new polls say that significantly more Americans oppose conducting military airstrikes against Syria than support intervening in the war-torn region.

A national survey by the Pew Research Center released Tuesday shows that 48 percent oppose military strikes and 29 percent favor them. In a separate poll by The Washington Post and ABC News, 36 percent support launching missile strikes, with 59 percent opposed.

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The Pew survey splits somewhat along partisan lines; 29 percent of Democrats favor intervening, compared to 48 percent who are opposed. The numbers are similar for independents, with 29 percent in favor and 50 percent opposed. Republicans, however, are more closely divided with 35 percent favor acting and 40 percent oppose it.

Seventy-four percent of those surveyed by Pew think airstrikes are likely to create a backlash against the U.S. and its allies in the region and 61 percent think strikes will likely lead to a long-term military commitment there. Just one-third believe air strikes are likely to be effective in discouraging the use of chemical weapons.

Overall, 32 percent say President Obama has explained clearly why the U.S. should launch military air strikes and 48 percent say he has not explained the reasons clearly enough.

The timing of the survey is noteworthy, however; it was conducted from Aug. 29-Sept. 1 and Mr. Obama formally made his case for intervening militarily and announced he would first seek Congressional authorization on Aug. 31. It has a margin of error of 3.7 percentage points.

Missile strikes are marginally more popular among those surveyed by ABC if other countries such as Britain and France participate. In that case, 46 percent support the strikes and 51 percent oppose them.

A strong majority of those polled by ABC — 70 percent — oppose the U.S. and its allies supplying weapons to the Syrian rebels who are fighting against the regime of President Bashar Assad.

The timing of the surveys is noteworthy, however. The Pew poll of 1,000 adults was conducted from Aug. 29-Sept. 1 and the Post-ABC poll of 1,012 adults was conducted between Aug. 28 and Sept. 1. Mr. Obama formally made his case for intervening militarily and announced he would first seek Congressional authorization on Aug. 31.

The Pew survey has a margin of error of 3.7 percentage points and the Post-ABC poll’s error margin is 3.5 percentage points.