Americans clearly against arming Syrian rebels, even after ‘red line’ crossed, polls show

The United States is moving to arm Syrian rebels following White House confirmation that the Syrian government used chemical weapons on its own people, but the American people aren't on-board, according to new polls.

A new Pew Research Center poll shows 70 percent of Americans oppose sending arms to the opposition groups, while a new Gallup poll shows 54 percent oppose the Obama administration's decision, compared to 37 percent who support it.

Opposition in the Pew poll is actually higher than ever before in the two-year-old civil war. And that's even as much of the poll was conducted after the White House announced Thursday that the Syrian government had crossed the "red line" and used chemical weapons.

But while the red line was significant to the White House, it doesn't seem to have altered the perceptions of the American people.

A December Washington Post-ABC News poll found that, while Americans were very much against the United States getting involved in the conflict, 63 percent backed military intervention if the Syrian government used chemical weapons against its people.

Now that it has actually been confirmed, though, people aren't budging.

In the Pew poll, opposition was at 69 percent in polling conducted before the "red line" was officially crossed and 71 percent in polling afterward. And the Gallup poll was conducted late in the week, after the White House disclosed its findings.

Despite the polls' results, it's also pretty clear that very few people are watching the issue closely -- only 15 percent -- which means opinions could change in the coming days and weeks.

For now, though, the administration's decision isn't a popular one.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix, the Post’s top political blog.
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Aaron Blake | June 17, 2013