The President And The Public: Foreign Policy Stability

December 06, 2011, 6:00 PM GMT+0

Barack Obama’s approval rating is stalled around 40%. In this week’s Economist/YouGov Poll, 38% approve of his handling of his job, and 51% disapprove. His overall approval rating reached an all-time low in mid-September. 

There has been a slope downward, not just in overall opinion of the President, but also in assessments of his performance on critical issues. Approval of his handling of the economy, for example, has dropped more than 20 points. It was 52% at the start of his Administration, and now is just 31%.

The brighter spot is foreign policy. Americans were not quite sure what to think of the President when it came to issues like the war in Iraq and terrorism when he came into office. And as time went on, their opinions declined some. But in the last year or so, the President has gained back some of the losses in these areas. The decision to withdraw American troops from Iraq brought his approval rating on handling Iraq up; and the killing of Osama bin Laden and other high-ranking members of al Queda gave Americans a better view of the President’s management of the war on terror. On both of those issues, nearly as many Americans approve of his performance now as did in February 2009. 

21% of Republicans — and nearly half of Independents — approve of how the President is handling the war in Iraq. Even more Republicans – 27% – approve his handling of terrorism. The President gets just a 5% approval rating from Republican identifiers when it comes to his overall performance, and only a third of independents approve of that. 

As for the war in Afghanistan, 39% of Americans approve of the President’s performance there, but more, 45% don’t.

The President continues to lead the three currently most popular contenders for the GOP 2012 presidential nomination. Among all registered voters, he leads former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney by four points, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich by eight, and businessman Herman Cain by 11. 

Economist/YouGov poll archives can found here.

Photo source: Press Association

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