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Attacking ISIS: Poll says Pa. majority supports airstrikes

Friday, September 26, 2014

Consistent with a marked shift in U.S. public opinion favoring military action against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), an overwhelming majority of Pennsylvanians supports President Obama’s authorization of airstrikes against the terrorist group, according to a new poll released today by the Mercyhurst Center for Applied Politics (MCAP).

Seventy-five percent of the 479 (MOE +/- 4.48) registered Pennsylvania voters polled Sept. 15-24 approved the airstrikes, with 45 percent going so far as to say Obama has been too cautious in dealing with the situation involving Islamic insurgents in Iraq and Syria.

A solid majority – 63 percent – of Pennsylvanians believes that ISIS poses an immediate threat to the United States, while three of four say that the group will pose a threat in the future if left unchecked by American military action. Seventy percent of those polled said they believe US military action against ISIS is necessary to prevent a future terrorist attack on America.

Despite voters’ worries over ISIS’s threat to the homeland, their support of the airstrikes and their concerns that Obama has been too cautious in dealing with ISIS, a solid majority – 61 percent – says it would oppose committing American ground troops to the fight.

Closer to home, the MCAP poll showed a tightening margin in the race between incumbent Republican Governor Tom Corbett and Democratic challenger Tom Wolf, although Wolf still enjoys a comfortable 15-point lead among the state’s registered voters.

When asked who they would vote for were the election held today, 43 percent said Wolf, 28 said Corbett, and 22 remain undecided.

Overall, the MCAP poll results reflected widespread disapproval of the job Corbett is doing as governor of the Keystone State, with a majority – 51 percent – voicing disapproval. Obama’s approval rating is even more dismal, with 55 percent of Pennsylvanians disapproving of the job he is doing.

The poll also surveyed Pennsylvanians on the state of the nation’s economy, with comparative data showing they are moderately more optimistic today than in 2011.

When asked in October 2011 to describe the state of the national economy, a majority of Pennsylvanians – 57 percent – said that it was “poor.” Today, only 28 percent of voters describe the economy as poor. Yet, most voters say they are making just enough money to maintain their standard of living.

Complete poll results will be available later today at mercyhurst.edu/mcap. MCAP director is Joseph Morris; Rolfe Peterson, methodologist; and Dylan Radtke, project manager.