Most Americans Believe in Obama's ISIS Plan, but Not in Him

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Most Americans support President Obama's plan to attack the Islamic State, even though a majority of Americans don't think it will work.

According to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, 68 percent of Americans have "very little" (31 percent) or "just some" (37 percent) confidence in Obama's ability to degrade and destroy ISIS. According to the poll, Obama's foreign policy approval rating is 38 percent.

At the same time, 62 percent of Americans support the president's plan to act in Iraq and Syria. A separate WSJ/NBC poll asked people before and after Obama's speech is they supported action in Iraq and Syria — 65 percent did before his speech and 68 percent did afterwards. The WSJ/NBC poll was conducted before the Islamic state beheaded British aid worker David Haines.

Aaron Blake at The Washington Post argues that there are two reasons for America's lack of optimism. First, between Afghanistan and Iraq, America's record in the Middle East isn't great. Second, the president has a history of being seen as not tough enough. That perception has grown throughout his presidency — according to polls by the Pew Research Center, 38 percent of Americans thought Obama's foreign policy wasn't tough enough in June 2009. Last month, that number had risen to 54 percent.

It's not clear how actions in Iraq and Syria will affect Obama's foreign policy approval rating, but it is clear that speeches have a minimal affect. Fifty-three percent of Americans said their opinion of the president was unchanged after last week's speech — 26 percent said they had a better impression of the president and 20 percent said they liked him less.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.