Americans Like Obama's Air Strikes a Lot More Than They Like Obama


A new poll shows a majority of respondents — including plenty of Democrats — think President Obama has been a failure.

The Washington Post/ABC News poll dives into a wide range of topics, including an assessment of Obama's time in office so far. A full 52% of respondents deemed his presidency a failure, while 42% called it a success. Those can be broken down further: 39% strongly feel that he's been a failure, and 22% feel strongly that he's succeeded.

As the Post's Aaron Blake notes, these figures track pretty closely with the president's dwindling approval ratings. Choosing between two strongly worded options — failure or success — leaves little room for nuance. (3% said no opinion, 2% said some of both and 1% said neither.)

On military action: Another big part of the poll looked at Americans' opinions on military action, especially as it relates to the Islamic State. A vast majority of respondents — 91% — said that IS was a serious threat to the United States.

A majority were also in favor of air strikes, to varying degrees. 71% of respondents supported air strikes in Iraq, while 65% supported them in Syria. 58% said they were in favor of providing the Kurdish military with arms and ammunition to fight IS.

The second figure may be the most surprising. The U.S. is already conducting air strikes in Iraq and supporting Kurdish (and Iraqi) fighters. While President Obama announced surveillance flights over Syria, including drones, air strikes have yet to come. One possible explanation for the big support for strikes in Syria: A YouGov poll last week found that 30% of respondents incorrectly thought the U.S. was already bombing targets inside Syria.

On Congress: When it comes to our legislative branch, Americans still want change without fully embracing it.

More than three-quarters of respondents did not approve of the job Congress was doing, with Democrats and Republicans in Congress earning 61% and 72% disapproval ratings, respectively. But a plurality — 45% — approve of the job their specific representative is doing.

There's an explanation for this, as Gallup noted when it released similar findings earlier this year: "It appears Americans are evaluating representatives on how they are doing their job and representing the district, while evaluating the institution as a whole on its collective inability to get much done."

As much as they might protest in the abstract, Americans tend to favor continuity when asked about specifics. They tend to support military actions (like air strikes) that are already happening, and they tend to think their congressman is doing just fine. Need more proof? 52% of respondents disapprove of Obamacare, but 57% say we should let it go ahead.