Poll: Most Americans support escalating fight against ISIS

November 16, 2015  

A clear majority of Americans support escalating their country’s fight against ISIS – but simultaneously oppose the notion of sending ground troops to the Middle East to take on the jihadists.

A Reuters/Ipsos poll released Monday found that 63% of Americans feared an attack like the one carried out by Islamist terrorists in Paris last Friday could occur near them. Reuters noted that that particular statistic hinted how significant a role national security concerns would play for voters during next year’s presidential elections.

60% of Americans supported investing more in the military campaign against ISIS, with a slim majority favoring increased airstrikes. However, a clear majority opposed sending special forces or other ground troops to Iraq and Syria.

Asked whether the United States should dispatch special forces – something President Obama has already done, albeit on a very small scale – opposition stood at 65%. But that number increased further when asked whether the US should deploy regular ground troops, with a full 76% opposed.

The survey also showed that Americans were more fearful of the prospect of attacks now than they were after the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013. That attack was carried out by two brothers who constructed bombs out of pressure cookers, killing three people and leaving more than 250 wounded – many of them maimed for life.

In contrast, the terrorist rampage in Paris was highly organized, systematic and far deadlier, involving coordinated mass-shootings and suicide bombings by three groups of apparently well-trained terrorists at six separate locations throughout the French capital, killing 129 people and leaving hundreds wounded.

Immigration debate

17% of those polled listed terrorism as their main concern – the same number as those who cited the economy, and nearly double the 9% who answered “terrorism” in 2014.

And American consensus appears narrowly in favor of moves by some US states to block Syrian migrants from entering, with 52% saying they felt countries which accepted Syrians feeling the civil war in their home country were less safe as a result. That result appears to be at least in part a response to news that one or more of the terrorists involved in the Paris attacks were non-Europeans who had infiltrated the continent disguised as “refugees” – a nightmare scenario regularly warned of by opponents of the current lax immigration policies favored by most Western European countries.

But on how to move forward on that issue, results were split: 41% of respondents believed countries should stop accepting immigrants due to the threat of terrorism, while 40% believed they should continue to do so nonetheless as the people in question are refugees fleeing terrorism.

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