Syria drags the President's approval rating even lower

September 04, 2013, 5:21 PM GMT+0

President Obama's approval ratings are approaching the lowest they've ever been, hurting his ability to persuade the American public to back a strike on Syria.

(Week of September 2, 2013) The President’s declining approval rating – near the lowest of his Presidency – is clearly impacting his ability to convince the American people to go along with his proposal to punish the Syrian government for the use of chemical weapons. In the latest Economist/YouGov Poll, not only do more Americans disagree with him than agree with him on that issue, but they also give him poor assessments on leadership and judgment. In addition, Americans rank the President lower than they do the woman he defeated for the 2008 Democratic Presidential nomination on those two important presidential qualities.

The current 16-point deficit between approval and disapproval (40% this week approve while 55% disapprove) is among the highest of the Obama Presidency (there was an 18 point spread two years ago). In the last few months, the President has lost the positive advantage he held between his re-election last November and this spring. The current distribution of opinion looks more as it did during that low period in the summer and early fall of 2011.

Today a majority of independents and one in four Democrats disapprove of the President’s performance. Democratic disapproval has crept up six points in just the last week. 29% of liberals disapprove, up eight points in the last week.

The opposition to U.S. involvement in Syria is bi-partisan, with just one in five in both parties in support.

As opinion of the President drops among his own supporters, it also impacts other assessments of his abilities. 60% of the public calls the President a weak leader, up ten points since May.

30% of Democrats agree.

Many Americans do not trust the President to say what he really means. 54% think he mostly say want people want to hear, and only 38% think he says what he believes.

President Obama gets worse marks than does the woman he defeated for the 2008 Democratic nomination when it comes to leadership and judgment. More think Clinton has good judgment than say she doesn’t, and half give her high marks for strong leadership. Answers about the President are more negative than positive.

As for Democrats, although they give positive assessments of both individuals, they too judge Clinton as better than Obama on both these characteristics. She holds a seven-point edge when it comes to having good judgment under pressure, and a ten-point lead when it comes to leadership. Nearly twice as many Democrats say the President does not have good judgment or that he is not a strong leader as rate Clinton negatively.

Clinton and the President fare similarly when it comes to a third characteristic: caring about people’s needs and problems. 72% of Democrats and four in ten overall say each does.

Someone Clinton may face if she chooses to run for the 2016 Democratic nomination, Vice President Joe Biden, scores even worse than either she or the President do on these presidential qualities. Only 29% of the public thinks Biden has strong qual- ities of leadership or good judgment under pressure. While majorities of Democrats think Biden has strong qualities of leadership and good judgment under pressure, more than one in five Democrats disagree.

Economist/YouGov poll archives can be found here.

Images: Getty