Obama hits new low on foreign policy in CNN polling
September 9th, 2013
04:00 PM ET
12 months ago

Obama hits new low on foreign policy in CNN polling

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.

But according to a CNN/ORC International survey, the number of Americans who approve of how Obama is handling his job in general remains steady.

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.

soundoff (201 Responses)
  1. greasemonkey

    WOW.......Obama succeeds in removing WMDs from Assad's control without firing a shot......and Zimmerman is back in jail where he belongs..........

    Bad day to be a CONservative.........

    September 9, 2013 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  2. ponzishema

    It's not even 3 in 10. It's more like 1 in 1000 according to your CNN comments section. What polls are you using??? Look no further than how people vote on CNN.

    September 9, 2013 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  3. smartaz

    57% of the people polled gave a negative rating. Another 30% couldn't stop laughing long enough to answer.

    September 9, 2013 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  4. Ivan Libya

    And you think he's going to start caring what the public wants or thinks now?

    September 9, 2013 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  5. Steve

    He seems to be a tic behind everything that's going on around him.

    September 9, 2013 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  6. TomGI

    "Obama hits new low on foreign policy in CNN polling"

    Well, he's hit a low with me. I don't know if it's a new low, it was pretty low to begin with.

    September 9, 2013 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  7. donald

    obama is doing just fine.

    September 9, 2013 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  8. tarlcabot

    Shouldn't be surprising – the people don't want to go war, simple as that.

    September 9, 2013 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  9. Tampa Tim

    If the president's job was to be popular, we would have elected a high school cheer leader or even Mittens. Sadly, right wing nuts have done every thing possible to make our country fail.

    September 9, 2013 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  10. Joe

    It amazes me that 40% actually approve! This guy is as clueless as they come.

    September 9, 2013 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  11. tom l

    This should not be a surprise. I know the lefties on here won't ever recognize it, but his vascillation on the "red line" and lack of ability to take responsibility for it is not very presidential. Americans want a decisive president who takes responsibility and doesn't mix words. President Obama is doing just the opposite.

    September 9, 2013 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  12. chipper

    ...and in other news, the sky is blue....as if we don't already know this

    September 9, 2013 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  13. jack

    what foreign policy?

    September 9, 2013 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  14. hjjk

    Obama = Failure

    September 9, 2013 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  15. Fred

    No really?? Say it ain't so..

    September 9, 2013 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  16. jack

    what foreign policy ?

    September 9, 2013 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  17. Polaris

    It's like a limbo tournament - how low can he go?

    September 9, 2013 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  18. oracle

    This is why democracies fail. Uneducated and uninformed electorates.

    Most Americans disapprove of Obama's policies on domestic, foreign, economic, health care, governance issues ... but "Hey, he seems like a nice minority guy with a good life story" so they vote for him.

    This is why my children are learning Chinese.

    September 9, 2013 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  19. jim g

    he is a disgrace to this country.

    September 9, 2013 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  20. jesse

    This rockstar that the world loved a few years ago was a one-hit wonder with no hits in the pipeline.

    September 9, 2013 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  21. Sunflower2

    Interesting... I have not met ONE person who approves of what he plans for Syria. Not one.... wonder where they are getting these "statistics".

    September 9, 2013 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  22. Demin Magdalen

    Is not that He is doing a bad job, its that He has to do his job and the job of the UN.

    September 9, 2013 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  23. Iggy

    This whole Syria thing is stupid. WWIII without a doubt and get ready for 10$ per gallon gas prices.

    September 9, 2013 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  24. YourLogLostDaddy

    Waiting for the right-wing nut job to still say CNN is unfair and left leaning.

    September 9, 2013 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  25. Kenman

    Who are these idiotic 40% approving of this clown's foreign policy!? Are you polling at the University of California Berkeley's campus?

    September 9, 2013 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
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