10/2: Most Americans Approve of Air Strikes in Syria… Obama Approval Up Overall and in Foreign Policy
76% of Americans approve of U.S. air strikes in Syria against ISIS. But, if those air strikes fail, Americans divide about whether or not to put U.S. boots on the ground. Although Republicans are more likely to support military action, including air strikes and sending ground troops to the region, Democrats are more likely to trust the president to work well with allies, avoid a terror attack in the United States, make the right decisions, act quickly, and develop a sound strategy. Republicans are more inclined to describe ISIS as a major threat to the U.S. Majorities of Democrats and independents, though, share this view.
46% of registered voters nationally approve of the job President Obama is doing in office, up from 40% who held this view in August. Voters’ impressions of his handling of foreign policy have also improved from 33% in August to 46% now.
Overall, a majority of voters rate the president positively on his handling of the threat of terrorism. They are divided about his handling of ISIS and Ukraine.
Concern among Americans about a terror attack in the U.S. is at its highest. But, so is confidence in the government’s ability to prepare and protect communities throughout the nation. By nearly two to one, Americans believe the country is safer now than it was before the attacks on September 11th, 2001.
“President Obama’s standing among voters has improved, especially in foreign policy,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “But, he is walking a fine line between Republicans who support air strikes and want more military action and Democrats who support the president but are fearful of an escalation of U.S. involvement in the region.”
- 76% of Americans approve of U.S. air strikes against ISIS in Syria, and 19% disapprove. The action has broad support including 92% of Republicans, 75% of Democrats, and 73% of independents.
- 47% of adults nationally favor sending U.S. ground troops to Syria to fight ISIS if air strikes are unsuccessful. 48%, though, oppose putting boots on the ground. Partisan differences exist. 67% of Republicans support establishing a ground force in the region while only 34% of Democrats share this view.
- 60% of Americans have, at least, a good amount of trust in Mr. Obama to work well with U.S. allies to combat ISIS. Majorities also trust the president to prevent a future terror attack in the U.S., 54%, make the right decisions in the war against ISIS, 53%, and to act quickly to fight ISIS, 51%. Half of Americans, 50%, have, at least, a good amount of confidence in Obama to come up with a sound strategy. There is a wide partisan divide on these questions. Democrats overwhelmingly have confidence in the president. About half of independents share this view, but most Republicans are wary.
- Nearly all Americans, 94%, consider ISIS a threat to U.S. security. Included are 58% who report ISIS is a major threat to the nation’s safety. Republicans, 72%, and independents, 60%, are more likely than Democrats, 52%, to say ISIS is a major threat.
- 79% of U.S. residents have heard, at least a good amount, about ISIS. This includes 56% of Americans who have heard a great deal about the terror group.
Obama’s Performance Rating Improves
- 46% of registered voters approve of the job President Obama is doing in office although 51% still disapprove. In August, 40% assessed the president’s job performance positively, and 52% thought he fell short (Trend).
- 46% of registered voters also approve of how President Obama is handling foreign policy while 52% disapprove. Obama’s rating in this area has also improved since August when 33% of registered voters thought well of his handling of foreign policy, and 61% disapproved (Trend).
- 52% of the nation’s voters approve of how President Obama is handling terrorism. 44% disapprove.
- Registered voters divide about how President Obama is handling ISIS. 48% approve, and 46% disapprove.
- When it comes to how the president is dealing with the conflict in Ukraine, 46% of voters approve of his approach. 44% disapprove. There has been a bump in the proportion of voters who approve of the president’s handling of the situation in Ukraine since August. At that time, 32% approved of how he addressed the conflict, and 51% disapproved.
Concern About Terror Attack at Highest Point But So is Confidence in Preparedness
- 84% of Americans are concerned about the potential for another terror attack in the U.S. including 41% who are very concerned and 43% who are concerned. In 2003, 22% of Americans were very concerned, and 54% expressed concern (Trend).
- 69% of Americans believe the U.S. is prepared for future aggression by terrorists on U.S. soil (Trend). 67% say they are confident the government will be able to protect their local area from a terror attack. 58% of Americans held this view in 2002 (Trend).
- 64% of Americans think the U.S. is safer now than it was on September 11, 2001.
In the fight against ISIS, do Americans approve of the use of air strikes in Syria? Do they support putting U.S. boots on the ground if those air strikes fail, and do registered voters approve of how President Barack Obama is handling ISIS and how he is performing overall?
Find out in the latest national McClatchy-Marist Poll. To read the full McClatchy article, click here.
While a majority of Americans think Syria’s use of chemical weapons threatens national security, they are against military involvement in the region. According to this national McClatchy-Marist Poll, nearly six in ten U.S. residents are concerned about long-term military involvement in the area, and only 21% believe waging limited air strikes in Syria would improve the situation in the region.
A majority of Americans do not want Congress to approve the president’s proposal to strike Syria. However, if the president is able to win Congressional approval, Americans divide about U.S. military action in Syria.
“The public and Congress still need to be convinced about what the president wants to accomplish and that he has a plan that will work,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “The public is worried that the president does not have a clear direction and that military action will lead to long-term entanglements.”
When it comes to President Barack Obama’s proposal to use limited air strikes on military targets in Syria, 58% of Americans oppose such a response. 32% favor limited U.S. air strikes, and 11% are unsure. Looking at party, about two-thirds of Republicans — 66%, six in ten independents — 60%, and half — 50% — of Democrats are against air strikes as a military response.
Americans are even more opposed to putting boots on the ground in Syria. Most — 80% — are against the use of U.S. ground troops in Syria. Only 13% favor such military involvement, and 7% are unsure. Regardless of party affiliation, there is consensus on this question.
Half of Americans do not believe the president has spelled out his strategy. 50% do not think President Obama has a clear idea about what he wants to do in Syria. 41% believe he has a plan mapped out, and 8% are unsure. Not surprisingly, there is a partisan divide. However, even 32% of Democrats believe the president is unclear about the nation’s next steps in Syria. 59% of Democrats think Mr. Obama has a plan at the ready. 75% of Republicans and 52% of independents do not believe the president has a clear idea about what he wants to do in Syria.
This fuels the underlying fear of long-term military involvement. Almost six in ten Americans — 57% — say it is very likely or likely that limited air strikes on Syria will lead to a longer commitment in the region. 37%, however, do not expect continued involvement, and 6% are unsure.
Despite Americans’ hesitation to get involved in the region, 53% of Americans report Syria’s use of chemical weapons is a serious threat to the national security of the United States or its interests in the region. 39% do not think these actions are a significant threat, and 8% are unsure.
Majority’s Message to Congress: “Keep U.S. Out of Syria”
53% of Americans do not want Congress to go along with President Obama’s request for a U.S. military response to Syria’s use of chemical weapons on its citizens. 38% want Congress to support the president’s request, and 8% are unsure.
While 65% of Republicans want Congress to reject the president’s request, nearly three in ten — 28% — want Congress to affirm it. Among independents, 54% want Congress to say, “No,” to the president while 36% want Congress to back his request. Democrats divide. 48% want Congress to support the president’s proposal while 44% want them to oppose it.
If Congress goes along with the president’s call for military action in Syria, Americans are somewhat more receptive to the idea of using military force in the region, but they are divided. 48% favor limited air strikes while 46% oppose them. Six percent are unsure.
Democrats bolster support. 57% of Democrats favor these strikes if Congress supports the president’s request. However, 55% of Republicans oppose them. Independents divide. 48% would oppose these attacks by the United States while 45% would favor them if the president wins cooperation from Congress.
Politically, 54% of registered voters say that it would make no difference to their vote if their elected official in Congress voted to approve U.S. air strikes on military targets in Syria. But, for voters that believe this issue matters to their vote, by about two to one, they are less likely to support their member of Congress if they agree to a military response in Syria — 28% — while 13% who would be more likely to vote for their elected representative. Four percent are unsure.
Regardless of party affiliation, a majority reports their vote would not be influenced if their congressperson voted with the president. However, 34% of Republicans and 32% of independent voters would be less likely to cast their ballot for their elected official if he or she supports the president’s request.
“Don’t Go It Alone,” Say Most Americans
If Congress denies the president’s request to use military force in Syria, 74% of Americans do not want the president to authorize air strikes on Syria. One in five — 20% — does want the president to take unilateral action, and 6% are unsure. 81% of Republicans and 78% of independents do not want the president to act without the approval of Congress. Nearly two-thirds of Democrats — 65% — say the same.
However, for a majority of Americans — 52%, the president’s request for Congressional approval to use military force in Syria makes him look strong. About one-third — 33% — perceives him as weak, and 15% are unsure.
While half of Republicans — 50% — think the president’s request makes him look weak, 40% of the GOP view his actions as strong. 66% of Democrats and nearly half of independent voters — 49% — view the president’s request to Congress in the same way.
Do Americans want the U.S. to forge international alliances before taking military action in Syria? 76% say it is necessary for the U.S. to have support from other countries before proceeding with a military response in Syria. 22% believe it is not necessary, and 2% are unsure.
Would the Ends Justify the Means?
Half of adults nationally — 50% — do not think waging limited air strikes on Syria is likely to achieve America’s military goals. 41% of Americans disagree. Eight percent are unsure.
There is a partisan divide here. A slim majority of Democrats — 51% — think it is either very likely or likely that the United States will achieve its military goals in Syria. This compares with 36% of Republicans. Independents align with Republicans on this question. Only 35% of these voters think the U.S. will meet its military goals in the region.
What kind of impact do Americans think the use of limited air strikes by the United States would have? A plurality of Americans — 46% — think such military action would make the situation worse in the area. 21% believe it would make it better, and 29% say it would make no difference. Four percent are unsure.
Americans divide over whether or not air strikes would discourage Syria from using chemical weapons on its citizens in the future. 49% think U.S. action would not, and 47% report it is likely that U.S. military involvement would successfully restrain Syria from future use of chemical weapons. Four percent are unsure.
When it comes to whether or not military air strikes would keep other countries from employing chemical weapons, 50% of Americans believe it is either very likely — 16% — or likely — 34% — that U.S. action would accomplish this goal. 45% of adults say it is not likely U.S. air strikes would result in future restraint by other countries. Four percent are unsure.
Obama’s Foreign Policy Rating at Lowest Point in Presidency
There’s more bad news for President Obama. The president’s approval rating on foreign policy is his lowest since taking office. 38% approve of how he is handling the issue while majority of registered voters — 54% — disapprove. Eight percent are unsure.
When McClatchy-Marist last reported this question in July, 41% approved of how Mr. Obama was dealing with foreign policy. 48% disapproved, and 10% were unsure. That 41% approval rating on foreign policy was the president’s lowest until this time.
President’s Approval Rating at 44%
Voters divide about the job President Obama is doing in office. While 44% approve, 47% disapprove. Nine percent are unsure. When McClatchy-Marist last reported this question in July, 41% of registered voters thought well of his job performance. 48% gave him low marks, and 11%, at the time, were unsure.