October 2, 2014
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.