May 3, 2013

Chemical Weapons Charges in Syria Draw a Bit More Public Attention

18%

About one in 5 Americans say they’ve followed charges that Syria has used chemical weapons “very closely.”

Allegations that Syria has used chemical weapons against anti-government forces have prompted at least a few more Americans to pay close attention to the long-running conflict.

In a Pew Research Center survey conducted the last week of April, 18% said they had followed the chemical-weapons story “very closely,” up from 13% who said they were following the Syrian conflict very closely a month earlier. A quarter of respondents in the latest survey said they were following the story “fairly closely,” compared with 22% a month previous.

Though the chemical weapons charges have prompted increased calls for the United States and its allies to take military action against the Syrian regime, most Americans are paying little or no attention to the story. In the most recent Pew Research Center survey, 23 percent of respondents had no opinion on the possible use of military force in Syria.

Other recent news events have attracted far more public attention, from the ongoing investigation into the Boston Marathon bombings (which 63%  said they had followed very closely) to the gun-control debate in Congress (39%) and the explosion of a Texas fertilizer plant (27%). Read more