Majority Still Approves of President's Handling of Terrorism, While Overall Approval Inches Down

May 18, 2011, 8:07 PM GMT+0

The President gained popular support after the killing of Osama bin Laden — and many of those gains are still there, though they have started to creep back from the highs in the immediate aftermath of bin Laden’s death. In the latest Economist/YouGov Poll, a majority continues to approve of how the President is handling terrorism — but his approval rating remains below 50%. 

54% of respondents approve of the way the President is handling terrorism; down from 58% immediately after bin Laden’s killing. Just 33% disapprove. This week’s terrorism approval rating remains 11 points above what it was before bin Laden’s death.

Overall approval is still relatively low — with a country divided almost evenly in assessing how the President is performing overall: 44% approve, 46% disapprove, little changed from the last week, but still above the President’s all-time lows earlier this year. 

The contrast, of course, is between general support for the President’s performance in foreign policy in general and his performance in dealing with a weak economy. More Americans approve than disapprove of the way the President is handling foreign policy (45% approve, 39% disapprove — an increase in approval since last fall), while a majority continues to disapprove of his performance on the economy.

The President continues to lead in head to head match-ups against three potential Republican opponents, although his lead over former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney among registered voters is within the poll’s margin of error (45% to 42%). He has much wider leads over Texas Congressman Ron Paul (48% to 36%), and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (51% to 35%).

In a generic vote — unnamed Republican versus unnamed Democrat — the Democrat holds a nine-point lead. 

Full datasets for Economist/YouGov polls can be found here.

Photo source: Press Association

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