Washington (CNN) – One day before President Barack Obama gives a prime time speech to make his case against Syria, a new national poll indicates the president's approval rating on foreign policy has hit an all-time low. And only three in ten approve of how he is handling Syria.
Only four in ten approve of the job Obama is doing on foreign policy, with 57% of those questioned giving the president a thumbs down. The 40% approval rating on foreign policy is Obama's lowest level ever on that issue in CNN polling.
The CNN poll's Monday release comes as the president sits down for interviews with the country's major broadcast and cable news networks, including CNN, to push for congressional authorization for U.S. military action to punish the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for allegedly using chemical weapons against its own citizens.
"President Obama's approval rating on foreign affairs has continued its steady decline - from 54% in January to 49% in April, 44% in June, and just 40% now," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "This may be a troubling sign for a president who in past polls had always scored his highest ratings for his handling of foreign affairs."
Specifically on Syria, only 31% of the public approves of the president's policies and actions, with 63% giving him a thumbs down. Four in ten Democrats say they disapprove of the job Obama's doing on Syria, with 54% saying they approve.
There is a wide partisan divide on this question, with only 26% of independents and just nine percent of Republicans approving of how Obama is handling the situation in Syria, which is suffering through two years of a bloody civil war between government forces and various rebel factions.
"The number of Democrats who disapprove of how the president's handling Syria may cause problems for the White House," adds Holland. "Given his low approval scores on Syria among independents and Republicans, the 40% of Democrats who disapprove may mean there is no base to rally on this key issue."
The president's overall approval rating stands at 45%, with 52% saying they disapprove of the job he's doing in the White House. The 45% approval rating is unchanged from CNN's previous poll, which was conducted in June.
"An unchanged overall approval rating perhaps comes as a surprise to some observers, but arguably the unpopularity of military action against Syria is balanced by the fact that the public wanted the president to consult with Congress before taking action on Syria, and that's exactly what he did," adds Holland.
The 45% approval rating is not Obama's lowest mark in CNN polling. His all-time low was a 43% approval rating in September of 2011.
The poll also indicates the president's approval rating on the economy stands at 43% on the economy, 42% on health care, and 36% on the budget deficit, all basically unchanged from earlier this year.
While the president's overall approval rating is nothing to brag about, it's still soars above Congress. According to the CNN poll, only one in five give federal lawmakers a thumbs up on the job they're doing on Capitol Hill, with 78% saying they disapprove.
The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International September 6-8, with 1,022 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.