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

    I imagine this will probably be looked on favorably in history. Obama knew that just because Iraq happened doesn't mean we can suddenly allow people to start gassing people with Sarin. He created a politically lose-lose situation that was a also a policy win-win. Russia would never have asked Syria to get rid of their chemicals if they could have avoided it, and Obama made it so they couldn't avoid it.

    September 9, 2013 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  2. bk

    American people don't want to get involved in any WAR after Bush lied about WMD on Iraq. So Obama tried to avoid to get drawn into conflict in the begining. Now he wanted a limited strike on humanitarian ground, against the use of Chemical Weapon. Do you think it's about Obama? or about ourselves, the human on Earth. If Congress does or doesn't approve, it's our success/failure. Obama is just one of us.

    September 9, 2013 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  3. Brian

    Uh oh, can't have that. Go and buy a pack of smokes to calm yourself Oblowblow.

    September 9, 2013 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  4. Frederick R. Freep

    It won't be long before Zimmerman has a higher approval rating than Obama:

    September 9, 2013 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  5. mike

    would you rather have a president go into a war without asking approval from congress when the economy is down? there's a no win situation from the public. there must be a consequence for whoever try to mass kill their own ppl. intimidation and readiness for action. be at the doorstep of a response is the best action for right now.

    September 9, 2013 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  6. salty

    cnn has to always mention congress with obama.s rating why dont u mentionobamas rating in europe it would mean just as much!

    September 9, 2013 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  7. Ipploit

    Stupid is as stupid does

    September 9, 2013 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  8. tony

    Worst Potus ever!

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

    Hey...this is what you get with the Dems. Amateur hour with foreign policy. Of course I'm sure Hillary will be MUCH better, now that she's had 2 months of genuine foreign policy experience. Of course Bush wasn't much better with two disastrous foreign wars. So maybe the U.S. just isn't very good with foreign policy...period.

    September 9, 2013 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  10. Pat

    Has anybody noted that President Obama will speak to the nation on the day before 9/11? He's going to propose his Syria strike on what a great many people will be an attempt to help al-Qaeda, the very group that mastermined the 9/11 attack and killed more than 3,700 people. How do you think the 9/11 families are going to take that? Not well at all, and they'll say as much at the 9/11 observance.

    September 9, 2013 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  11. Silomon

    OMG REALLY??...NOOO!.... -_- jk...Im surprised is not even lower...I dont approve anything he is doing!

    September 9, 2013 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  12. emskadittle

    well i guess he won't get reelected, oh wait

    September 9, 2013 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  13. Anon

    How long did it take for all of these "Hope and Change" voters to realize that Obama has no idea what he's doing?

    September 9, 2013 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  14. NoduhDC

    Is this supposed to be a surprise or something? And you wonder why Oslama is trying to drum up support for Syria? duh?

    September 9, 2013 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  15. Pratt

    Who cares...he's not running for office again. Ha Ha Ha.

    September 9, 2013 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  16. Mike

    Is it a breaking news? people knew that Obama didn't have a foreign policy experience 5 yrs ago.

    September 9, 2013 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  17. al

    What would you expect? His stance on Syria is unpopular with a large majority of the people and he and his administration are mishandling this situation badly. Even his supporters are not pleased with his position on Syria. I don't care what the republicans think so much as they just disagree with anything he does but when your own supporters won't stand behind you that means something.

    September 9, 2013 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  18. dave

    Anyone else hear Gomer Pyle?

    September 9, 2013 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  19. Doo doo brown

    He has failed on foreign policy and he has failed on the home front and the economy.

    September 9, 2013 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  20. smdahl

    How nice of Obama to give immunity to Bush/Cheney since President Obama and the leadership of both parties are going to be prosecuted for the lies they've already told to sell this war.

    September 9, 2013 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  21. Daniel Broadbent

    This is irrelevant. Obama is just a puppet, controlled by interests and individuals whose names will never appear in print. Once Obama leaves office, he'll be replaced with another figurehead and the cycle will continue.

    September 9, 2013 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  22. kobe

    As a Liberal President, I'm surprised he's going after Al Assad regime. Why get into a fight with a dog, and wake up with fleas? Let them sort their own mess. History PROVES no matter the outcome, they (Middle East) will always be anti-American anyways. Why pay the cost with our OWN soldiers!

    September 9, 2013 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  23. Durka Durka

    Obama promised us hope and change. We did not get the change so people have lost hope. At the end of the day, Obama is Bush 2.0

    September 9, 2013 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  24. UpsetVoter

    I am sure he can do worse .... Just give him a chance.

    September 9, 2013 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  25. dl

    I don't know who he got advice from, but it's turning out to be a potentially fatal political miscalculation on Obama's part

    September 9, 2013 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
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