Poll: Public Sees Little Progress Against ISIS, Doubts Obama Has a Plan

Olivier Douliery/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images
Olivier Douliery/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

The latest CNN/ORC International poll on the war against ISIS paints a glum portrait of a disillusioned public with no confidence in President Obama’s leadership and no sense that any progress is being made against the terror state.

The poll, taken from October 14 to 17, found President Obama’s topline approval number underwater at 46-51 but found only 31 percent said the U.S. action against ISIS was going well—and only 4 percent who said “very well.” A total of 67 percent said the war was going badly, with 31 percent saying “very badly.”

The trend in polling on this question has been plunging downward over the past year, from essentially even support of 48-49 for President Obama’s ISIS strategy in October 2014.

The poll respondents clearly expected nothing better in the future, as they said by a margin of 71-27 that President Obama did not have a “clear plan” for dealing with the terror state. Interestingly, that level of approval has only slipped a little since October 2014, when respondents said President Obama did not have a clear plan by 66-32.

In other words, they were willing to believe the war was going fairly well even when they seriously doubted the president had a plan. It must have taken quite a bit of bad news on the ground to turn their opinions so sour. Optimistic promises of success against a supposedly overstretched, under-supplied army of savages were not fulfilled.

An astounding 90 percent of poll respondents thought ISIS was a serious threat to the United States, with 70 percent classifying it as a “very serious” threat. CNN notes this outpaces “concerns about Iran, China, North Korea or Russia by double digits.”

Respondents took the threat of ISIS seriously enough to oppose the deployment of American ground forces against it by only 51-46, an idea opposed by 60-38 as recently as the September 2014 poll. They were concerned about the ISIS war spiraling into a larger regional, or even global, conflict by a 76-24 margin, which might help explain why the use of ground forces to swiftly and decisively end the conflict polled surprisingly well, among an electorate supposedly allergic to the deployment of ground troops.

That might also explain why the poll found opinion on whether Russia’s intervention in Syria represented a serious problem for the United States almost perfectly split at 50-50, with a mere 1 percent expressing no opinion. A good number of people seem willing to accept the notion of Russia taking the leadership role against ISIS, as long as the threat is finally ended.


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