Americans who were previously undecided about the president’s handling of foreign policy have made up their minds – and they aren’t happy. A poll out Thursday by The New York Times and CBS says that amid Obama’s indecision on dealing with ISIS and while under relentless attack by Republicans for the strategy he eventually articulated, the president’s approval rating on foreign policy dropped to its lowest level ever. And his disapproval rating spiked by 10 points to tie its highest level ever.
The poll, conducted between Sept. 12 and Sept. 14, asked 1,009 Americans, “Do you approve or disapprove of the way Barack Obama is handling foreign policy?” The number of those who said they approve of the president’s foreign policy fell to 36 percent, the lowest the poll has recorded since Obama took office. The disapproval numbers spiked to 58 percent from 48 percent the last time the survey was taken, in late July and early August.
Much of the change appears to have come from undecided respondents, who made up 16 percent of the sample in July and August. By last week, the percentage of undecided had fallen by half, to 8 percent, with the majority apparently moving into the “disapprove” column.
The president’s foreign policy disapproval numbers have been on something of a rollercoaster. That 48 percent number reported in August represented a 10 percentage point fall from a poll taken in June, when Obama hit 58 percent disapproval for the first time.
The public also expressed declining confidence in the president’s handling of the threat of terrorism in general. Exactly half of respondents said they now disapprove of his approach toward terrorism, up 12 percentage points from the last time the question was asked, in March of this year.
On a question dealing with general job approval, the president’s numbers, if not better, were at least less bad. The number of people who said they disapprove of his job performance remained static at 50 percent, while the number reporting approval dropped slightly, from 41 percent to 40 percent.
However, on the job approval question, the president has a comfortable lead over Congress. Asked about the performance of congressional Democrats, 61 percent of respondents said they disapproved of the lawmakers’ performance. Congressional Republicans fared even worse, with 70 percent of people expressing disapproval.
The traditional right track/wrong track question showed a glimmer of good news for the administration, with the number of people saying the country is on the wrong track falling one point to 66 percent, while the number saying the country is on the right track ticked up two points to 27 percent.
Additionally, the number of people rating the condition of the economy as “very good” or “fairly good” hit an all-time high for Obama’s presidency, at 44 percent. To be sure, that left 55 percent calling it “bad” or “very bad.”
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