Thursday, February 26, 2015

Public Ahead of President on “Boots on Ground”

On September 10, 2014, President Obama announced the campaign to “degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL.” He was playing defense, not only against the sweeping victories of ISIS, but with the American people, who had decided weeks before it was time to take action and protect Americans. A flock of polls posted on September 9 showed that the public was already anxious for military action and that the President’s leadership was faulted as hesitant. Importantly for the future of the war effort, the public was skeptical that there was a credible plan for victory. (See blogs: Panic in the White House – Foreign Policy (9-15-14) and ISIS and the Midterm Elections – 9KUSA (9-16-14))

Now five months later, the public that was in September only in favor of bombing ISIS, have come to believe it will be necessary to have some troops engaged or, as the administration likes to claim will never happen, “boots on the ground.”

Three new polls show the public has shifted to support for some level of direct military intervention against ISIS. The most recent poll from CBS News (Feb. 13-17, 2015) shows a majority of the public (57%), including Democrats (50%) and independents (53%), want U.S. troops on the ground to fight ISIS. It reflects an increase of 18 percentage points since September 2014.

  • The poll also shows the public believes the congressional authorization for military action should be passed – 66%
  • ISIS campaign is not going well – 67%, 33% very poorly
  • ISIS threat is very serious – 65%
  • Airstrikes are supported – 77%, now up from 71% in October
Other recent polls show there is varying levels of support for concern about ground forces. Question wording affects results and, not surprising given recent experience, a majority of the public worry that it will lead to another long ground war.

CNN: Poll: Most disapprove of Obama handling of ISIS
NBC: Poll: 54% want Congress to Back Obama’s authorization against ISIS
Fox News: Poll: Terrorism, economy, love
Pew Research: Increased public support for the U.S. arming Ukraine

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