2/12: Obama’s Request for Military Action against ISIS Receives Majority Support…Many Americans Say Boots on the Ground are Needed

In a poll conducted just hours after President Barack Obama made the case for congressional authorization to use military force against ISIS, a majority of Americans tells the NBC News/Marist Poll they support their congressperson voting for the use of U.S. military action against the Islamic militants.  However, residents divide about whether or not President Obama’s proposal will receive bipartisan support.  With nearly seven in ten residents saying they are aware of the president’s request, the news of possible military action against ISIS has permeated Americans’ consciousness.

While the president is requesting limited use of U.S. ground troops, where do Americans stand?  About two-thirds say at least some presence of ground forces are needed.  In fact, about one in four Americans thinks a large number of boots on the ground is necessary.  Not surprisingly, partisan differences exist.

Despite many Americans’ belief that the U.S and its allies will be victorious in defeating ISIS, confidence in President Obama’s strategy to combat ISIS is mixed.

When it comes to President Obama’s legacy, Americans divide about whether the president will be remembered more for ending a war or for starting a new one.

“This challenge will bear on the president’s legacy,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.  “By nearly two to one, Democrats think President Obama will still be remembered for ending a war, but by more than three to one, Republicans see the president’s legacy as having started a new one.”

Complete February 12, 2015 NBC News/Marist Poll of the United States

Poll points:

  • 54% of Americans want their member of Congress to vote to authorize U.S. military action against ISIS.  32% are against such approval, and more than one in ten, 13%, is unsure.  A majority of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents think their congressional representative should support the president’s request.
  • Residents divide about whether President Obama’s proposal will have bipartisan support in Congress.  44% think it will not, and 40% believe it will.  16% are unsure.  A majority of Democrats, 56%, and a plurality of Republicans, 44%, say the president’s plan will not receive bipartisan support.  A notable 20% of Republicans are unsure.    Independents divide.  44% think partisanship will be put aside while 43% believe it will be front and center in the debate.
  • About two-thirds of Americans, 66%, think U.S. boots on the ground are necessary, to some degree, to combat ISIS.  This includes 26% who support sending a large number of U.S. ground forces and 40% who back deploying a limited number of troops on the ground.  26% do not want any ground forces involved, and 7% are unsure.
  • Views about the use of ground troops differ based on party.  38% of Republicans, compared with 16% of Democrats and 25% of independents, support sending a large number of ground forces.
  • Many Americans, 66%, are optimistic that the U.S. and its allies will defeat ISIS.  There is little partisan difference of opinion on this question.
  • Looking at Americans’ level of confidence in President Obama’s strategy to combat ISIS, there is a divide.  48% do not have very much faith in the president’s approach.  45% express confidence in the president’s proposal.  Not surprisingly, 82% of Republicans have little or no confidence in the president’s military strategy.  Most Democrats, 71%, are confident in the president’s approach.  Independents are more divided:  44% express confidence and 49% do not.
  • When it comes to President Obama’s legacy, 44% of Americans say President Obama will be remembered more for starting a new war than ending one.  40% think the opposite will be true.  A notable, 16%, are unsure.  More than six in ten Republicans, 62%, and a majority of independents, 51%, believe President Obama’s legacy will be defined by beginning a new war.  59% of Democrats think he will be remembered for ending a war.
  • 69% of Americans have heard about the president’s request to use U.S. military force against ISIS, and 31% have not.

Marist Poll Methodology

Marist Poll Nature of the Sample