Obama hits new low on foreign policy in CNN polling
September 9th, 2013
04:00 PM ET
7 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. SC

    Let's face it – so many Americans would rather grind out a cigarette in Pres. Obama's face because of his race than actually stand behind him as the talented leader that he actually is. It's the truth, and it will bury us until people admit it. There's nothing more to it than that, no matter how much people deny that they are the the disease this country faces.

    September 9, 2013 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  2. REALITY

    I am ashamed that I am agreeing more with Putin than I am with Obama. I need to take a shower.

    September 9, 2013 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  3. WhyME

    Obama's problem is that for years now he has drummed into people head that WE SHOULD BE FOCUSING ON OUR OWN PROBLEMS.... WE NEED TO STOP SPENDING MONEY ON WARS.....OUR FINANCIAL PROBLEMS ARE BECAUSE OF WARS. So, now people are basically regurgitating these concepts back to him. So...it's a HARD SELL...to have us want to CARE ABOUT OTHERS and SPEND MONEY ON SOME WAR-LIKE Activities...

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

    "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."

    This is probably because Obama hasn't done anything since earlier this year.

    September 9, 2013 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  5. Brad

    As he should... From Benghazi to the Arab Spring to the Syria conflict, Mr Obama is WAAYYYY over his head.

    September 9, 2013 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  6. Tampa Tim

    Every elected right wing nut cries out that they want to impeach the president, even though there are no charges. I think that the domestic terrorist new channel (Fox) has not helped our president or our country for that matter.

    September 9, 2013 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  7. Ande

    I give up. I'm switching to MSNBC. When an approval rating makes headlines you begin to realize just how much FOX and CNN are alike.

    September 9, 2013 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  8. joe

    The only voters that approve of anything this man does are the same ones that he bought their vote from through his social programs!!!!!

    September 9, 2013 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  9. Truth101

    Syria will attack us with it's own chemical attack. (Inside Job) for Population Control. Not Our Problem!

    September 9, 2013 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  10. Mike H.

    To say that our decisive, resolute, Commander-in-Chief HAS a foreign policy, is quite a stretch of imagination.

    September 9, 2013 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  11. loyalright

    This poll was from left-leaning CNN. I wonder what the actual numbers are.

    September 9, 2013 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  12. Gimmeabreak!

    Don't tell me people are finally waking up about the fraud Obama always has been and continues to be !!!!

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

    To be fair, the other man who potentially would have been in office right now (John McCain) was one of the first to speak to the public of his desire to launch a military strike on Syria. That being said, John McCain probably has dementia, whereas Obama is just an idiot.

    September 9, 2013 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  14. Conservatives Suck!

    Obama needs to be raked over the red hot coals for this.

    September 9, 2013 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  15. joney

    5 years of failure is hard to live down

    September 9, 2013 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  16. Chris kuklcok

    Who r they polling, i never get asked my opinion. But if you want it, i feel as a veteran, we as a human race and a civilized nation must act and air strike Syria.

    September 9, 2013 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  17. Tampa Tim

    According to other CNN polls, Mittens will win the presidency.

    September 9, 2013 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  18. Uncle Rufus

    Could it be because he's hopelessly naive and has brought us to the brink of WWIII?

    September 9, 2013 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  19. Starman

    Voted for Obama first term, voted for Obama second term thinking real things would get done. Completely and utterly disappointing. Im still wondering where this "liberal socialist" Obama is since all I see is a republican now.... almost Bush III.

    September 9, 2013 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  20. bezboz

    Apparently not many people are fans of attacking other countries that don't threaten our national security. Especially by Nobel prize winners!

    September 9, 2013 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  21. Unknowian

    His numbers deserve to be at an all time low.

    September 9, 2013 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  22. flowersunshineandgymsocks

    Obama has played this perfectly. His waiting for congress and not acting too quickly has allowed Russia and Syria to work a deal where no US action is needed. Of course, he had no idea that this would happen but allowing Syria to let the threat of strikes sink in, makes them want to do something to appease the international community. Americans however, can't stand smart people who take time to work things out. If McCain was in power the US would be in four to five wars: Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Libya and Syria.

    Even congress will look good being slow and thoughtful.

    Unfortunately, it will be in the future that the American realize what a smart president Obama is.

    September 9, 2013 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  23. Jay

    I wonder what those people think we should have done. Nothing?

    September 9, 2013 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  24. Jaggersden

    Hey, OBAMA, look up and listen.. Russia is giving you a way to bow out gracefully. Be a bit smarter than you look and take it.

    September 9, 2013 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  25. Bob 'rehoboth-beach foodie" Yesbek

    Any real American will watch the USA vs Mexico soccer game instead of listening to a story teller!

    September 9, 2013 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
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