Monday, September 22, 2014

Obama ISIS response is an electoral wildcard

Juan Williams: Obama’s October Surprise

Juan Williams / Fox News
By Juan Williams, Sept. 22, 2014,

Get ready for bombs bursting in air and this election’s October Surprise – President Obama’s air strikes to “degrade and ultimately destroy” ISIS.

Last week a Fox News poll identified a phenomenon that my friend, pollster Dana Blanton, dubbed “The ISIS effect.”

“Equal numbers of voters now say terrorism is the most important issue to their vote as say the economy – 41 percent say each will be ‘extremely’ important in their decision,” Blanton wrote. She later noted “four years ago [in the 2010 midterms dominated by Republicans], 57 percent said the economy would be ‘extremely’ important while 41 percent said terrorism.”

Initially political fall-out from the murders of two Americans and one British citizen, all beheaded by ISIS, seemed to be another drag on President Obama’s already mediocre approval rating. The president was heavily criticized for failing to take the fight to ISIS before their barbaric acts and then for the lack of a clear strategy to defeat them.

But in the last week polls show public opinion shifting in the president’s favor.

A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll reported 62 percent of voters supported “the decision President Obama made when it comes to taking action against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.”

Pew polling last week found support for the president’s plan is coming from both sides of the political spectrum. As Pew described it: “And in a rare display of bipartisanship, majorities of both Republicans [64 percent] and Democrats [60 percent] approve of the president’s plan.”

A Rasmussen poll similarly found 66 percent of likely U.S. voters support President Obama’s plan to use airstrikes in Iraq and Syria against ISIS.

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