Obama should go to Congress for ISIS war, but probably doesn't need to

February 18, 2015, 4:06 PM UTC

Most Americans think that President Obama should seek Congressional approval for military operations in Iraq and Syria, but people tend to think he already has the power to do so anyway

Last week President Obama wrote a letter to Congress asking them to pass a new authorization for the use of military force in Iraq and Syria that would set the terms for America's growing involvement in the regional struggle against ISIS. Though support for the fight against ISIS is high in Congress, the president's exact proposal has come under fire from elements of both the Democratic and Republican parties. Certain Democrats object that the new authorization would not repeal the 2001 authorization which gives the president wide powers to pursue a global war against Al-Qaeda and others even remotely connected to the 9/11 attacks. Republicans have complained that the three-year expiration of the authorization, as well as a prohibition on sending large numbers of ground troops to fight. 

YouGov's latest research shows that 31% of Americans approve of Barack Obama's handling of the situation in Iraq and Syria, while 44% disapprove. This marks a 10% drop in approval since October, when 41% of Americans approved of President Obama's handling of the situation in Iraq and Syria and 43% disapproved. This ranges from 60% approval among Democrats, to 45% disapproval among independents and 75% disapproval among Republicans. 

Most Americans (68%) think that President Obama should seek the approval of Congress for operations against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Most Democrats (69%) as well as Republicans (79%) believe that the president should seek the approval of the newly GOP-controlled legislative branch for his war against ISIS.

Despite this, Americans tend to think that Obama already has the authority under the Constitution and existing laws to conduct military operations against ISIS. 42% say that he already has this authority, while 26% think he does not. 32% aren't sure. Most Democrats (51%) and many Republicans (40%) agree that President Obama has this authorization currently. 

One area where partisan divides re-emerge, however, is on the question of whether or not the next president should be more or less willing than President Obama to use the military abroad. 47% of Democrats say that the next president should be no more or less willing than Obama to use force internationally, while 21% of Democrats want him or her to be less aggressive abroad. 47% of Republicans want Obama's successor to be more willing to use American military force in foreign conflicts, while only 10% want the next president to be less willing to use American military force. 

Full poll results can be found here and topline results and margin of error here