CBSN

Poll: Foreign challenges and the president

By Sarah Dutton, Jennifer De Pinto, Anthony Salvanto, and Fred Backus

Israel

Americans are split when asked about the level of U.S. support for Israel: 29 percent say the U.S. gives too much, about as many say it gives too little, and a third say the U.S. gives the right amount. The percentage that says U.S. support is too little has risen by ten points since 2011.

But Republicans hold a stronger view -- just over half say the U.S. gives too little support to Israel.

Iran

The public's assessment of President Barack Obama's handling of relations with Iran is net negative: just 38 percent of Americans approve of the job he is doing, while more, 47 percent, disapprove.

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Republicans in Congress fare worse on their handling of relations with Iran - public disapproval outweighs approval by two to one. And while 45 percent of Republicans approve, 31 percent disapprove of how members of their own party in Congress are handling relations with Iran.

Three in four Americans view Iran's nuclear program as a threat to the U.S. Forty-five percent think it is one that can be contained for now, while another 29 percent think it requires military action now.

ISIS

By a large margin, Americans see the fight against the militant group ISIS as going badly for the U.S. - a view similar to last month.

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Just 43 percent of Americans now favor the U.S. sending ground troops into Iraq or Syria to fight ISIS militants; 46 percent oppose it. Support for sending ground troops rose to 57 percent in February, in the immediate aftermath of the death of aid worker Kayla Mueller, but has now dropped to levels seen last fall.

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Support for ground troops has dropped among Republicans, Democrats and independents.

The percentage of Americans that views ISIS as a major threat to the U.S. is about the same as it was last month. Now, 62 percent view it as a major threat to the U.S., and another 21 percent see it as a minor threat. Just 13 percent say ISIS is not a threat.

Seventy-nine percent of Republicans say ISIS is a major threat; just 47 percent of Democrats say the same.

A quarter of Americans think that President Obama has a clear plan for dealing with ISIS, similar to last month. Sixty-four percent think he does not. Just 47 percent of Democrats say he has a clear plan, while 41 percent think he does not.

President Obama

The President's overall job approval rating continues to hover in the mid-forties. Forty-five percent now approve, and just as many, 46 percent, disapprove.

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Evaluations of the President on terrorism and ISIS are slightly more negative than last month. At 36 percent, President Obama's approval rating on handling ISIS is the lowest since CBS News began asking the question last fall.

His ratings on foreign policy generally and the economy are largely unchanged.

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The Economy, Direction of the Country

Positive assessments of the economy, first seen in CBS News Polls in January, continue. Half of Americans say the economy is in good shape.

Thirty-four percent say the economy is improving, and another 37 percent say it is staying the same, and 27 percent say it is getting worse.

Thirty percent of Americans say the country is headed in the right direction, while 62 percent say it is off on the wrong track. These views are more negative than they have been for the last two months.

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This poll was conducted by telephone March 21-24, 2015 among a random sample of 1,023 adults nationwide. Data collection was conducted on behalf of CBS News by SSRS of Media, PA. Phone numbers were dialed from samples of both standard land-line and cell phones. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus three percentage points. The error for subgroups may be higher. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish. This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.