FOX News Poll: Majorities say call it 'radical Islam,' oppose Syrian refugees

Most American voters believe Islamic terrorists will strike the U.S. soon.  A Fox News national poll released Sunday also finds Democrats and Republicans united against President Obama’s plan to accept Syrian refugees -- as most voters think at least one will be a terrorist who will launch a successful attack here.

Here are five findings on the war against terrorism.  Voters feel:

-- The U.S. is at war with radical Islam, and Democrats who refuse to call the enemy by that name are doing the wrong thing.

-- Obama has not fought the war against ISIS aggressively enough, and that war is going badly.

-- Terrorism is now the top problem facing the country, and an attack is likely soon.

-- Bringing Syrian refugees into the U.S. is a bad idea, and a religious test would be shameful.

-- Closing Gitmo is wrong, and Obama should not side step Congress to do so.


Here are the details behind those findings:

Today 66 percent consider the country “at war” with radical Islam, up from 56 percent in January.

The poll asks about Democratic presidential candidates rejecting terms like radical Islam and Islamic terrorists to describe those who committed the Paris attacks. Fifty-six percent think they are doing the wrong thing by refusing to identify clearly the nature of the threat. Thirty-three percent feel Democrats are doing the right thing by being careful not to blame Muslim ideology.

More than 6 in 10 say the U.S. fight against ISIS is going badly (63 percent).  At the same time, voters continue to oppose sending a “significant” number of U.S. ground troops to fight the extremists (42 percent favor vs. 51 percent oppose).  However, opposition is decreasing; it was 37 percent in favor vs. 57 percent opposed in June.

While 26 percent think the actions of the Obama administration have been “about right” in trying to stop ISIS, most -- 65 percent -- say Obama hasn’t been aggressive enough. That includes 39 percent of Democrats, 61 percent of independents and 91 percent of Republicans.

The current situation has pushed the president’s job rating to a low point for the year. Forty percent of voters approve of the job Obama is doing, while 54 percent disapprove. It was 45-50 percent earlier this month. Some of the decline comes from Democrats: 78 percent approve now, down from 84 percent (Nov. 1-3, 2015).  Overall, Obama’s worst rating was 38 approve vs. 56 disapprove in September 2014.

In the wake of the Paris attacks, terrorism now tops the economy as the most important issue facing the country.  Twenty-four percent of voters say terrorism, up from 11 percent in August.  Currently 21 percent say the economy is the top issue, down from 30 percent this summer.  There’s a substantial gap before foreign policy (7 percent), health care (7 percent), immigration (7 percent) and the deficit (5 percent) are mentioned.  Only three percent say climate change is the priority.

Fifty-six percent think it is “very” likely Islamic terrorists will try to attack the United States soon, up from 50 percent who felt that way in January.

Two-thirds of voters -- and nearly half of Democrats -- oppose the administration’s plan for the U.S. to take in 10,000 Syrian refugees over the next year, and 77 percent think it’s likely at least one of those coming in through this process will be a terrorist who will “succeed in carrying out an attack on U.S. soil.”

Obama says it’s shameful to have a religious test for bringing Syrian refugees into the country -- and 64 percent agree with him. Fewer than one in four says it makes sense to only allow Syrian refugees who are Christian to come to the U.S. (23 percent).

Views by Party

Forty-nine percent of Democrats join majorities of independents (67 percent) and Republicans (86 percent) in opposing Obama’s plan to bring Syrian refugees into the U.S.

By an overwhelming 91-8 percent margin, Republicans think it’s likely a terrorist will sneak in as a refugee and carry out an attack.  Democrats agree that’s a likely scenario -- just by a smaller 62-35 percent margin.

Republicans (37 percent) are nearly four times as likely as Democrats (10 percent) to think a religious test for Syrian refugees makes sense.  Even so, a plurality of Republicans (49 percent) agrees with the large majority of Democrats (81 percent) who feel it’s a shameful idea.

Guantanamo Bay

Two days after the Paris attacks, the White House announced the transfer of five Guantanamo Bay detainees to the government of the United Arab Emirates.  That’s part of the Obama administration’s ongoing plan to close the facility -- a plan that by a two-to-one margin voters think is the wrong course of action (59-31 percent).

Even more voters, 73 percent, oppose Obama bypassing Congress to close the detention center by executive action. That’s widely seen as the only way he could close Gitmo given lawmakers’ opposition.

While a plurality of Democrats thinks closing Gitmo is the right thing to do (48 percent), a slim majority opposes Obama going around Congress to do it (53 percent).

Most say they would not be willing to have Gitmo detainees moved to a prison in their state (68 percent), however, nearly 3 in 10 say they would be (28 percent).

The Fox News poll is based on live telephone interviews (landline and cellphone) with 1,016 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide and was conducted under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R) from Nov. 16-19, 2015. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points for all registered voters.