Congress won't debate President Obama's use of air power to fight Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) until after the November elections, if then. But the public is showing surprising bipartisan support for the U.S. air campaign. A CNN/Orc international poll released Monday found 73 percent approval of Obama's decision to strike ISIS in Syria with Arab allies, though the one thing Congress has approved — arming moderate Syrian rebels — polls at only 42 percent, with 54 percent opposing.
That said, only 38 percent favor sending in U.S. ground troops, even while a majority believe that is somewhat or very likely to happen anyway. In the CNN poll, Obama's ratings on handling terrorism (46 percent), foreign affairs (42 percent), and his job (44 percent) are all up 1 to 4 percentage points from the last poll Sept. 5-7, before he laid out his ISIS strategy in a televised speech.
Gallup and Pew similarly found bipartisan majority support for the ISIS campaign, in polls conducted after Obama announced his intention to bomb ISIS targets in Syria but before the airstrikes began. In mid-September, Pew found that 60 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of Republicans backed Obama's ISIS campaign. Only 47 percent of independents approved, though, which brought the plan's overall approval down to 53 percent. Gallup's Sept. 20-21 poll identified roughly similar trends across party lines, pegging overall approval at 60 percent.
As Gallup editor in chief Frank Newport explains in the video below, 60 percent support actually isn't a great number, falling below the median approval of 68 percent for the last 10 U.S. military actions, after they were launched. The top scorers? Afghanistan in 2001 (90 percent) and 1993 airstrikes on Iraq (83 percent). --Peter Weber