WASHINGTON — 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.