Everyone understands that attacking Syria is very unpopular, but how does it compare to previous military interventions? According to Gallup, it is the least popular intervention of the last thirty years:

Views on Proposed U.S. Military Actions Before Commencement of Such Actions

As some may remember, the Libyan war had been the least popular intervention in decades before it was fought, but an attack on Syria will easily replace it as the war with the least public support. To put this 36% figure in perspective, the proposed attack is roughly as popular now as the Iraq war was at its worst and most violent.  While it’s true that there tends to be a “rally effect” once a war starts and support for it increases, that is usually temporary and soon vanishes if the intervention drags on or runs into “unexpected” problems. Of course, the problems are not so much “unexpected” as they were ignored by the administration in its haste to start attacking.

Gallup finds a partisan division on Syria that other polls have not found:

Support for Potential U.S. Military Strike Against Syria, September 2013

Democrats are more or less evenly split on the question, which I suppose is understandable given the partisan impulse to back a president from one’s own party even when he is doing something incredibly foolish. As you can see, independents are strongly against the attack, and Republicans oppose it by a margin of 19 points. Among ideological groups, most conservatives and liberals are united in their rejection of attacking Syria, while moderates are slightly more likely to favor the action. Despite that, more moderates are against the attack than are for it. No modern president has led the U.S. into a foreign conflict with such weak popular support. That makes me think that the “rally effect” will be very small if the U.S. does attack Syria. Unless the attack is very brief and doesn’t lead to any larger conflict, what little support Obama’s Syria policy still has will likely evaporate.

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