President Donald Trump is likely to see a bump in his approval ratings after he launched a missile strike against a Syrian air base in response to a chemical attack, but the decisive action is unlikely to appreciably change the public’s views of his presidency, analysts said.
“Time will tell on this,” said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion in New York. “What has gone on with the deaths of children and the horror, clearly Americans reacted to that and Trump’s decisive action on that will be favorably received. But what is the policy?”
The airstrike dramatically changed the conversation in Washington. Trump’s much anticipated summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping drew little attention.
Trump’s Russia Problem Isn’t Going Away.
Democratic National Committee
Likewise, the missile strikes drew attention away from the several controversies that have been a drag on Trump first weeks in office – the failed effort to repeal Obamacare, a suspended travel ban on Muslim-majority countries and the many investigations into Trump’s ties to Russia.
Syria is likely also to dominate the Sunday political talk shows that have been devoted to the president’s other problems, said George Edwards, a professor of political science at Texas A&M.
With Congress now on a two-week Easter break, the reprieve could last beyond the weekend since no legislative news will take place.
But Democratic and Republican strategists said they don’t expect the Syria conversation to dominate for long – especially now that Trump officials are promising no additional military action in Syria. The other issues are too important to each side.
“We have to be honest with ourselves on that,” said Republican strategist Evan Siegfried.
If there are no new strikes, discussion of Syria is likely to end quickly, said Siegfried, who wrote the book “GOP GPS.” If the strikes continue, Syria will become a new point of debate. “Congress is going to be very interested in asserting its position,” he predicted.
But Russia is likely to remain Washington’s topic of choice. “Trump’s Russia Problem Isn’t Going Away,” the headline read on an email from the Democratic National Committee that went out Friday evening. It emphasized the “drip, drip, drip” of news that came out this week on Trump’s alleged ties with Russia.
Richard Goodstein, a Democratic strategist and lawyer who served in the Clinton administration, said lobbing cruise missiles at Syria won’t affect the politics in Washington.
“It’s not something that is going to change the world forever like 9/11,” he said. “Russia is not going away, healthcare is not going way. The people who supported Trump, who wanted Obamacare repealed on Day 1, are not going to forget that just because a bunch of Tomahawk missiles were fired.”