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36% Favor U.S. Declaring War on ISIS

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Voters aren’t keen on the idea of declaring war on the radical group ISIS and strongly feel that congressional approval should be required before the president sends U.S. troops into combat.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is expected to vote this week on a resolution by Senator Rand Paul to formally declare war on the Islamic State group, also known as ISIL. But the latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 36% of Likely U.S. Voters support such a declaration of war. Thirty-seven percent (37%) are opposed, while another 27% are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Paul is pushing for the resolution because he believes the Obama administration’s decision to launch air strikes against ISIS forces in Iraq and Syria already exceeds the president’s constitutional authority, and he thinks the president is likely to expand that mission to include combat troops even though most voters and most members of Congress are opposed. Sixty-five percent (65%) of voters believe the approval of Congress should be required before the president sends U.S. troops into combat. Only 22% disagree. Thirteen percent (13%) are not sure.

Sixty-five percent (65%) of voters approve of the actions the president has taken against ISIS so far, but there’s much less support for sending combat troops back to Iraq, especially if they are not part of an international coalition of forces. 

Seventy-nine percent (79%) think it’s likely the United States will be forced to send troops back into combat in Iraq, with 36% who say it is Very Likely. Just 15% consider that eventuality not very or Not At All Likely. These views are unchanged from two months ago 

Similarly unchanged are the 70% who say it’s likely the United States and its allies will be able to defeat ISIS. Twenty-four percent (24%) think this outcome is unlikely. This includes 33% who say a U.S. victory is Very Likely and just five percent (5%) who consider it Not At All Likely.

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The survey of 1,000 Likely U.S. Voters was conducted on December 7-8, 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.

Most voters believe the U.S. military already has too many missions these days and think it’s likely that fighting in Iraq will soon be another job for it to do.  Sixty percent (60%) think America’s political leaders send U.S. soldiers into harm’s way too often.

Fifty percent (50%) of Republicans favor a formal declaration of war against ISIS, compared to 27% of Democrats and 32% of voters not affiliated with either major political party. Most voters in all three groups think the approval of Congress should be necessary before the president sends U.S. troops into combat, but GOP voters believe that much more strongly than the others.

There’s also general partisan agreement that the United States is likely to be forced to send combat troops back to Iraq but is also likely ultimately to be the winner.

Generally speaking, the younger the voter, the more likely he or she is to oppose formally declaring war on ISIS. Those under 40 are also the strongest supporters of requiring Congress’ approval before the president can send troops into combat.

In general, however, voters who favor formally declaring war are stronger supporters of congressional approval than are those who don’t see a need to declare war.

Voters give a lukewarm endorsement to President Obama's proposal that Iran join in the fight against ISIS, and they don't expect it to improve relations between the two countries anytime soon.

Fifty-nine percent (59%) think the support of Muslim nations in the fight against ISIS will increase the chances of winning. But only 42% think U.S. military action is more likely to enable the United States to win the support of moderate Muslims to defeat radical groups like ISIS, while 34% think the latest military action is more likely to further anger the Muslim world.

Additional information from this survey and a full demographic breakdown are available to Platinum Members only. 

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