But support in Congress is lukewarm at best, and many lawmakers have questioned whether the strikes would create more of a problem for the U.S. than they would help the nearly three year effort to overthrow Assad.
"We must balance the legitimate concerns that Americans have about the use of military force with our strategic interests," said Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., who on Monday announced she would not support the White House plan.
U.S. opposition to striking Syria cuts across party lines, as does doubt that an American attack would deter other world leaders from using chemical weapons.
The poll indicated that 53 percent of Democrats, 59 percent of independents and 73 percent of Republicans believe Congress should vote against the plan to strike Syria. Only one out of four Democrats think that an attack would deter other world leaders from acquiring and using chemical weapons; even fewer Republicans and independents agreed.
"It's not good what they're doing to their own people, but we don't want to start World War III," said Rosie Vega, a retired receptionist who was at a Glendale, Calif., bakery on Monday morning.
Overall, 61 percent of people surveyed said they wanted Congress to vote against authorizing U.S. military strikes in Syria, the poll found. By comparison, 26 percent said they supported it, and the rest were undecided.
Just 16 percent of Americans said they did not think that the limited strikes would lead to a longer military campaign, the poll indicated. And an overwhelming majority — 75 percent — said they do not support sending U.S. troops to Syria. Obama has already pledged that will not happen.
The Syria dilemma has become a major test of Obama's political mettle on national security and foreign policy issues. After months of resisting U.S. military action in Syria, the White House abruptly reversed course after the Aug. 21 attacks — only to confront withering public support both at home and abroad.