Poll: After a year fighting ISIS, few see progress

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Story highlights

  • Just 31% say the military action against ISIS is going well for the U.S.
  • Obama's overall job approval rating is roughly even with where it was last month, with 46% approving and 51% disapproving

Washington (CNN)Just over a year into the U.S. military campaign against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, the American public has its worst impression yet of how things are going there, and expresses broad doubts that President Barack Obama has a clear plan to deal with the militant group, according to a new CNN/ORC poll.

Just 31% say the military action against ISIS is going well for the U.S., down from 38% in May and 48% a year ago. That's close to the low point reached in the public's assessment of the military action in Iraq in 2007, when just 28% said that mission was going well.
Nine in 10 consider ISIS a serious threat to the U.S., outpacing concerns about Iran, China, North Korea or Russia by double digits. All told, 70% describe ISIS as a "very serious threat," more than 25 points ahead of Iran (44%), which is viewed as the next largest threat.
    Few see Obama as having a clear plan for dealing with ISIS: just 27% think so while 71% say he does not. That's worse than a year ago at this time, when 66% said Obama lacked a plan for ISIS. Even among Democrats, just 49% say they think Obama has a clear plan for ISIS, down from 56% a year ago.
    Views on the fight against ISIS are sharply divided by partisanship, with Republicans far more likely than Democrats to see the militant group as a very serious threat (84% among Republicans, 61% among Democrats), to say things are going poorly (80% among Republicans, 50% among Democrats) and to doubt that Obama has a clear plan for dealing with the group (96% among Republicans, 48% among Democrats).
    The partisan gap on how things are going in the fight against ISIS isn't quite as large as it was on Iraq in April 2007, when perceptions of how that war was going hit a low point. At that time, 87% of Democrats said things were going badly for the U.S. in Iraq, just 42% of Republicans agreed, a 45-point gap compared with the 30-point partisan divide in the new poll.
    About half overall say they distrust Obama as commander-in-chief, 51%, while 49% say they trust him. That's similar to the public's views on this question last September as the military campaign against ISIS was beginning, 48% then said they trusted Obama as commander-in-chief, 51% did not.
    The public remains narrowly tipped against sending ground troops into combat operations against ISIS forces in Iraq and Syria, 51% oppose that, 46% favor it. Republicans and Democrats stand on opposite sides of this question as well, with 62% of Republicans in favor of sending ground troops and 61% of Democrats opposed.
    Americans are divided on whether Russian military intervention in Syria is a problem for the U.S. Fifty percent call it a crisis or major problem, 50% say it's a minor problem or no problem at all. About three-quarters are worried the military action against ISIS will develop into a larger war that could spread.
    Obama's overall job approval rating is roughly even with where it was last month, with 46% approving and 51% disapproving. In mid-September those figures stood at 44% approve to 50% disapprove.
    The CNN/ORC Poll was conducted by telephone October 14-17 among a random national sample of 1,028 adults. Results among the full sample have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.