This is a follow-up on my post of Aug. 29, 2014, “Obama admin turns to Twitter crowdsourcing for foreign policy.”
On Aug. 28 in a press conference at the White House, Barack Obama admitted he doesn’t have a plan or strategy for defeating the Islamic State (IS) militants, formerly called ISIS or ISIL, and backed away from imminent military action.
Americans are notorious for their inattention to politics, a phenomenon that’s been noted by political scientists for decades, which has engendered the expression “low-information voters.”
Surprisingly, a new poll finds that Americans — specifically those who say they are likely to vote — are paying attention to the menacing ISIS/ISIL Muslim militants who, two months ago, declared the installation of an Islamic State (IS) or Caliphate. As many as 79% of voters say they have been following recent news reports about the fighting in Iraq and Syria, with 45% who have been following Very Closely.
The very name of ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham) or ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) speaks to their territorial ambitions of creating a caliphate over a wide swath of land in the Middle East. The word “Sham” means Levant; Levant today consists of the island of Cyprus, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, and part of southern Turkey. (See “ISIS: the savage jihadists laying waste to Iraq”.)
The new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of likely U.S. voters finds that Americans are worried about the ISIS or IS jihadists and about their president not having a strategy for dealing with the IS. Here are the survey’s findings (to see survey questions wording, click here):
1. On whether they consider ISIS to be a serious threat to America:
- 67% say yes; 13% say no; 20% are not sure.
- There’s a decided partisan difference. Democrats are much less concerned than either Republicans or Independents. 52% of Democrats, 82% of Republicans, and 70% of voters not affiliated with either major party consider ISIS a serious threat to the United States.
2.On whether they are concerned that the U.S. does not have a strategy for dealing with ISIS:
- 73% are concerned, including 47% who are “very concerned.”
- 25% are not concerned, including only 4% who are “not at all concerned.”
- Democrats are much less concerned about Obama’s lack of a strategy for dealing with the Islamic State.
3. On whether the U.S. should send troops to Iraq to defeat ISIS, more Americans still are opposed but their numbers are rapidly decreasing:
- 30% said yes, up from 12% last December.
- 41% are opposed to sending U.S. troops back to Iraq, a dramatic decline from 71% in December and 58% of a month ago.
- A sizable 29% are undecided.
4. On how they rate the Obama administration’s response to ISIS:
- 42% say Obama has done a poor job; only 29% give a rating of good or excellent.
- There’s a divide in perception between regular Americans and the elite:
- 64% of the Political Class think the administration has done a good or excellent job responding to the threat from ISIS.
- 53% of Mainstream voters rate the administration’s performance in this area as poor.
5. On what the U.S. should do about ISIS’s beheading of U.S. journalist james foley:
- 61% of all voters think the U.S. government should hunt down the ISIS terrorist who beheaded Foley on a video posted online.
- Even more voters think he should receive the death penalty if tried in a U.S. court.
6. On U.S. military involvement abroad:
- 60% think America’s political leaders send U.S. soldiers into harm’s way too often.
- 48% believe the United States is too involved in the affairs of other countries.
The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on August 30-31, 2014 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.