3/10: Americans Support Military Action against ISIS… Many Support Ground Presence

More than six in ten Americans, 62%, would like their member of Congress to vote for President Barack Obama’s proposal to use military force against ISIS.  On the much debated issue of deploying ground troops in the fight against the Islamic State, nearly two-thirds of Americans, 65%, think at least some ground presence is necessary.  This includes 24% of residents who say a large number of ground troops should be used.


But, voters’ views of the president’s handling of the situation has become increasingly negative.  A majority of voters, 56%, disapproves of how President Obama is handling ISIS compared with a divided electorate last fall.  A majority of voters also continue to assess the job Mr. Obama is doing on foreign policy negatively.

Yet, views of Mr. Obama’s approach to the economy, and his overall job performance have somewhat improved.

While the job approval ratings of congressional Democrats, 30%, and Republicans, 33%, remain low, attitudes toward Congress have gotten better.  Although a majority still has a bleak outlook about the country’s direction, Americans are the most optimistic they have been in nearly two years.

“Voters are more dismayed over President Obama’s handling of ISIS and they want action,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.  “Although Republicans are, overall, more hawkish on ground troops than Democrats, Tea Party Republicans are the most likely to want to send large numbers of troops to battle ISIS.”

Complete March 10, 2015 McClatchy-Marist Poll of the United States

Poll points:

  • More than six in ten adults, 62%, want their member of Congress to vote for President Obama’s proposal to use military force against ISIS.  25% would like their representative to vote against it, and more than one in ten, 13%, is unsure.
  • 70% of Republicans and 62% of Democrats are in favor of authorizing military force against ISIS.  59% of independents agree.
  • 65% of Americans think ground troops should be used in the fight against ISIS.  This includes 24% of residents who believe a large number of ground troops should be deployed, and 41% who support sending a limited number.  More than one in four, 27%, opposes sending any ground troops, and 7% are unsure.
  • Republicans, 40%, are more than twice as likely as Democrats, 17%, to support the use of a large number of ground troops in the war against the Islamic State.  23% of independents also say a large number of boots on the ground is needed.
  • Only 35% of registered voters though approve of how President Barack Obama is handling ISIS, and a majority, 56%, disapproves.  Nine percent are unsure.
  • The president has lost support on the issue of ISIS.  When McClatchy-Marist last reported this question in October, voters divided.  48% approved of how Mr. Obama was handling ISIS, and 46% disapproved.  Republicans and independents account for this change.  Among Republicans, 10% approve of the president’s approach to ISIS now compared with 27% in the fall.  28% of independents, compared with 45% previously, have this view.
  • When looking at President Obama’s overall handling of foreign policy, a majority of voters are not satisfied.  Only 38% approve of how the president is doing in the realm of foreign policy while 56% disapprove.  In December, 38% approved and 52% disapproved (Trend).

Obama’s Rating on Economy Best in Three Years… Uptick in Overall Approval Score

  • While 50% of voters disapprove of how President Obama is handling the economy, there has been an improvement in the proportion of those who approve, 45%.  Three months ago, 41% gave the president high marks on the economy, and 55% thought he fell short in this policy area.  In fact, Obama has reached his highest rating on his economic management since March 2012 when 46% approved of how he approached the economy.  51%, at that time, disapproved (Trend).
  • President Obama’s overall job approval rating is at 46% among registered voters.  50% disapprove.  The president’s approval rating has improved from December.  At that time 43% had a positive view of the president’s performance, and 52% thought it was lacking (Trend).
  • While views of the president’s job performance have gotten slightly better, Mr. Obama’s favorable rating is still upside down.  52% of voters have an unfavorable opinion of the president while 45% have a favorable one.  Similar proportions of voters had these views three months ago when 54% had a negative impression of the president, and 44% had a positive one (Trend).
  • Although still low, the approval rating of congressional Republicans has gotten better.  One in three voters, 33%, approves of the job they are doing, up from 28% in December.  61% currently disapprove of their performance, down from 66% three months ago (Trend).  Attitudes toward Republicans in Congress have improved most among members of their own party.  60% of Republicans think well of how members of the congressional GOP are doing in office, up from 51% previously.
  • 30% of voters approve of how congressional Democrats are doing their job, and 64% disapprove.  In McClatchy-Marist’s December survey, 27% approved of the performance of the Democrats in Congress, and 65% disapproved (Trend).
  • Looking at the direction of the nation, 59% of Americans think the country is moving in the wrong direction while 36% believe it is moving in the right one.  Americans are slightly more optimistic about the course of the nation than at the end of 2014.  At that time, 31% had a positive view of the nation’s direction while 64% had a more pessimistic one (Trend).  Democrats are more upbeat in their opinion.  60% of Democrats think the country is on the right track while 50% felt that way in December.

Marist Poll Methodology

Nature of the Sample and Complete Tables