Poll finds support for 'boots on the ground' — if generals want them

A plurality of voters would favor sending U.S. ground troops to defeat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) if military commanders determined it was the best course of action, according to a new poll. 

Forty-five percent would support U.S. ground troops in the region, while 37 percent would oppose them, according to the poll released Monday by The Wall Street Journal/NBC News and The Annenberg Public Policy Center. 


Another 16 percent of voters do not have an opinion either way. 

The poll differs from a CNN poll released Monday and highlights how a question’s wording can sway the outcome. 

The CNN poll, which does not mention the opinion of military commanders, finds that 60 percent opposes sending ground troops to Syria or Iraq, while 38 percent supports the idea. Another 2 percent has no opinion. 

More than 1,500 U.S. troops are in Iraq to serve an advisory role, but President Obama has ruled out sending U.S. combat troops to fight in the region — something that a number of Republicans say would be necessary to defeat ISIS. 

The administration has said it will rely on indigenous forces, including Iraqi security forces and vetted Syrian rebel groups, against the Islamist fighters.

Whether voters support using U.S. ground troops, they believe it is inevitable. The Journal poll found 72 percent believe the United States will end up sending ground troops despite Obama's vow that "America has no intention of using American military troops in ground action to fight against the ISIS army."

Another 20 percent believe the United States will not use ground troops, while 8 percent have no opinion. 

The poll surveyed 1,283 people from Sept. 19-25 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent.