By DEB RIECHMANN and EMILY SWANSON, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — Sixty-five percent of Americans now say the threat from the Islamic State group is very or even extremely important, and nearly half think the U.S. military response in Iraq and Syria has not gone far enough, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll. Most want to see America’s partners step up their contribution to the fight,
Less than half, 43 percent, approve of the way President Barack Obama is handling the danger posed by the extremist militants.
Greg Franke, 24, of Columbia, South Carolina, was among the 55 percent of those who disapproved. Franke, a 24-year-old assistant editor at a research library, said he thought Obama was too hesitant in responding to the militants, who have employed brutal tactics to swiftly seize territory.
“I understand the need to be hesitant, but this was a group that was marching across parts of the Middle East, which is already unstable,” Franke said. “I think it warranted a swift and more decisive response.”
“I also think that his declaration that U.S. troops would not be involved was premature,” he said. “I don’t want U.S. troops involved. But I don’t think we need to close doors.”
A majority, 66 percent, favor the airstrikes the United States has been launching against the militants, yet 65 percent of those surveyed say Obama has not clearly explained America’s goal in fighting the Islamic State group. The president met with his national security team on Friday to discuss the Islamic State and talk via video teleconference with U.S. officials at the American Embassy in Baghdad and consulates in Irbil and Basra.
Here’s a look at the poll:
IS ENOUGH BEING DONE?
Forty-six percent said the U.S. military response has not gone far enough — up from 40 percent in September. Fifty-six percent said the military response from countries that have joined the U.S. in the fight against Islamic State militants has not gone far enough. The U.S. and partner countries, including Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, have been bombing Islamic State targets since August.
“It shouldn’t just be us. It shouldn’t just be ‘Oh, the United States is policing.’ It should be everyone is there policing and everybody believes this is wrong and everyone — worldwide — is trying to stop this,” said Kathy Robinson, 24, a Sterling, Virginia, woman who works at an information technology company.
At the same time, she thinks the United States eventually will put troops on the ground in the region “just to make sure nothing starts back up — to keep the peace.”
Only 32 percent think Obama has done a good job in clearly stating U.S. policy against the IS group. More than six in 10 of them think it’s either not likely or only moderately likely that the U.S. and its partners will achieve their goal in fighting IS.
ARE AMERICANS FOLLOWING DEVELOPMENTS IN IRAQ, SYRIA?
While 47 percent of those surveyed said there’s a very or extremely high risk of another terror attack inside the United States, just a third said they have been keenly following the news about the U.S. military action against IS. An additional 38 percent said they were following the action somewhat closely, and 31 percent said they were keeping up not too closely or not closely at all.
DO PEOPLE SUPPORT THE AIRSTRIKES?
While Americans support the airstrike, when it comes to supporting the idea of deploying U.S. ground troops, respondents were more guarded.
Thirty-seven percent said they opposed putting American forces on the ground, 33 percent favored the idea and 28 percent said they were neither for nor against it.
Obama has said repeatedly that he has no plans to send ground troops to Iraq or Syria. However, 28 percent thought it was very or extremely likely that he would, and an additional 45 percent thought it was moderately likely. Just 24 percent said it was not likely.
Michael Rainwater, 64, of Sammanish, Washington, doesn’t particularly want to see U.S. troops sent in, but thinks they might be deployed at some point.
“I think all of these things tend to escalate,” he said. “You can’t keep pouring fuel on the fire and expect the fire to get smaller. So every time we bomb or send in armed drones, you are creating more terrorists.”
He does not think, though, that the Islamic State is in a position to mount a 9/11-style attack against the U.S.
Said Rainwater, a retired software company owner: “It is more of a criminal entity because basically what they are doing is kidnapping people for ransom, taking over oil refineries for the income.”
The AP-GfK Poll was conducted Oct. 16-20 using KnowledgePanel, GfK’s probability-based panel designed to be representative of the U.S. population. It involved online interviews with 1,608 adults, and had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.8 percentage points for all respondents. Respondents were selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods, and later interviewed. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were given free access.
By LAURAN NEERGAARD and EMILY SWANSON
WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans have at least some confidence that the U.S. health care system will prevent Ebola from spreading in this country but generally disapprove of the way President Barack Obama and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have handled the crisis so far.
Most disapprove of Obama’s handling of the Ebola outbreak, according to an Associated Press-GfK Poll. Just 1 in 5 approve of the CDC’s work on Ebola so far, and only 3 in 10 say they trust that public health officials are sharing complete and accurate information about the virus. And only 18 percent have deep confidence that local hospitals could safely treat a patient with Ebola.
Amid worry here, most Americans say the U.S. also should be doing more to stop Ebola in West Africa. Health authorities have been clear: Until that epidemic ends, travelers could unknowingly carry the virus anywhere.
“It seems to me we have a crisis of two things. We have a crisis of science, and either people don’t understand it or … they don’t believe it,” said Dr. Joseph McCormick, an Ebola expert at the University of Texas School of Public Health. And, “we have a crisis in confidence in government.”
Some findings from the AP-GfK poll:
HEALTH CARE GETS MIXED REVIEWS
Nearly a quarter of Americans are very confident the U.S. health care system could prevent Ebola from spreading widely, and 40 percent are moderately confident.
But nearly half don’t think their local hospital could safely treat an Ebola case, and 31 percent are only moderately confident that it could.
After all, Thomas Eric Duncan, the first Ebola patient diagnosed in the U.S., at first was mistakenly sent home by a Dallas emergency room, only to return far sicker a few days later. Then, two nurses caring for him somehow became infected. The family of one of the nurses, Amber Vinson, said Wednesday doctors no longer could detect Ebola in her as of Tuesday evening.
Asked how the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention handled those cases, 42 percent of people disapprove and 22 percent approve.
FEAR VS. KNOWLEDGE
Despite months of headlines about Ebola, nearly a quarter of Americans acknowledge they don’t really understand how it spreads. Another 36 percent say they understand it only moderately well.
Ebola doesn’t spread through the air or by casual contact, and patients aren’t contagious until symptoms begin. Ebola spreads through close contact with a symptomatic person’s bodily fluids, such as blood, vomit, feces, urine, saliva, semen or sweat.
People who say they do understand are less concerned about Ebola spreading widely in this country. Among those who feel they have a good grasp on how it spreads, 46 percent are deeply concerned; that rises to 58 percent among those who don’t understand it as well.
Likewise, a third of those with more knowledge of Ebola are confident in the health system’s ability to stem an outbreak, and 27 percent think their local hospital could safely treat it. Among those who don’t understand Ebola, fewer than 1 in 5 shares either confidence.
WHAT SHOULD BE DONE
A whopping 93 percent of people think training of doctors and nurses at local hospitals is necessary to deal with Ebola, with nearly all of them, 78 percent, deeming it a definite need.
Nine out of 10 also think it’s necessary to tighten screening of people entering the U.S. from the outbreak zone, including 69 percent who say that’s definitely needed.
Some would go even further: Almost half say it’s definitely necessary to prevent everyone traveling from places affected by Ebola from entering the U.S. Another 29 percent say it’s probably necessary to do so.
More than 8 in 10 favor sending medical aid to Ebola-stricken countries and increasing government funding to develop vaccines and treatments.
SOME NEW STEPS
The CDC had issued safe-care guidelines to hospitals long before Duncan arrived last month, and it made some changes this week after the unexpected nurse infections. Now, the CDC says hospitals should use full-body garb and hoods and follow rigorous rules in removing the equipment to avoid contamination, with a site manager supervising. Possibly more important, workers should repeatedly practice the donning and doffing and prove they can do it correctly before being allowed near any future patients.
While Duncan wasn’t contagious during his flight, his arrival spurred U.S. officials to begin checking passengers arriving from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea for fever, an early Ebola symptom, just like they’re checked before leaving those countries.
Wednesday, the CDC moved to fill a gap in that screening: Starting next week, all of those travelers must be monitored for symptoms for 21 days, the Ebola incubation period. They’ll be told to take their temperature twice a day and must report the readings to state or local health officials.
That’s not just for West African visitors. It includes U.S. government employees, who had been doing their own 21-day fever watches upon return from fighting the epidemic, as well as doctors and other workers for aid organizations and journalists.
The AP-GfK Poll was conducted Oct. 16-20, using KnowledgePanel, GfK’s probability-based panel designed to be representative of the U.S. population. It involved online interviews with 1,608 adults and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.8 percentage points for all respondents. Respondents were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided with the ability to access the Internet at no cost to them.
AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com