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POLITICS: White House

Republicans support President Obama on Iraq more than Democrats

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,White House,Barack Obama,Iraq,Polls,Terrorism,Becket Adams,ISIS

Most Americans support the White House's limited airstrikes on ISIS in Iraq, with a majority of Republicans enthusiastically backing the effort, according to new Washington Post-ABC News survey.

The Aug. 13-17 survey, which has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points, found that 61 percent of self-identified Republican respondents support the airstrikes, while only 54 percent of Democrats say the same.

Meanwhile, roughly 49 percent of independents say they support military action, while a smaller 44 percent say they oppose it.

Fifty-four percent of total respondents support the airstrikes, while 39 percent oppose them.

Now, what's interesting about the political breakdown of support for airstrikes is that it stands in contrast to the public's overall support — or lack thereof — for the president's handling of Iraq.

Forty-two percent of the 1,025 U.S. adults polled said they support Obama's leadership on the issue, while 51 percent say they “strongly disapprove.”

Now, although 61 percent of Democrats say they approve of the president's handling of Iraq, approximately 72 percent of Republicans and 58 percent of Independents say they “disapprove.”

In short, the U.S. public is unhappy with the president's approach to the many problems that Iraq poses — but it supports the incineration of ISIS targets.

Still, the same demographic that says it supports the president on Iraq is also the same group that largely disagrees with his targeted strikes on ISIS, the one Iraq-related issue most Americans support.

This obviously puts the president in a difficult position: Does he continue the airstrikes on ISIS, as many Americans prefer he would? Or does Obama appease his base by discontinuing the attacks?

If he the president caves to his base, then he loses support from a broad range of voters, some of whom want him to take stronger action. But if he stays the course and continues going after ISIS with limited strikes, he then runs the risk of alienating members of his party.

And the dilemma gets worse if Obama takes stronger action against ISIS. Republicans, at 54 percent, are the only group where a majority supports arming Iraq's Kurds against the extremists. Democrats are split on the move, while overall the breakdown is 49 percent against to 45 percent in favor.

He's damned if he does, damned if he doesn't. Perhaps this is why he has opted to check out mentally, delegating the tough decision to his subordinates while he golfs at Martha's Vineyard.

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