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. Barry

    Why is the news media not pointing out that one of the reasons the U.S. public is skeptical about WMD claims is that former Bush admin (Cheney) "leaned" on the CIA to present the "evidence" to attack Iraq? The news media has allowed former Bush admin personnel to say the intelligence was wrong or faulty and decisions were made based on this intelligence. They are not admitting that because of Cheney's repeated trips to the CIA, that the admin basically tampered with the "evidence". wasn't this what the Libby law suit was about? Doesn't this help explain why the public is so skeptical? We were burned badly by Bus and Cheney and now do not know whether the "evidence" being presented has been fabricated or corrupted by our politicians!

    September 9, 2013 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  2. Wheels

    You see what happens larry

    September 9, 2013 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  3. tim

    The only things this shows is that 50% of the country will give him a pass regardless of how bumbling he becomes simply because they voted for him and can't admit to the buyers remorse.

    September 9, 2013 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  4. Ram Lakshmanan

    Well done community organizer from South Chicago!!!

    September 9, 2013 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  5. littljohnny

    Obama will be fine. He'll get us out of this mess.

    September 9, 2013 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  6. dubrats

    what poll?...where's the poll?....I will make it 3 in ten approval rating.

    September 9, 2013 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  7. Scott

    After 10 plus years of two bungled wars started by the Bush Regime, the American public have lost a taste for military intervention. I only wonder if Iraq had not happened if the American people would have been so ready to distrust their government and wish to bow out of such moral decisions as they are now. This is your Legacy Bush, Rumsfield, Cheney, Bremer, Rice, Powell..........Yours.

    September 9, 2013 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  8. Wade

    CNN is so generous to Obama most non political pols shows him at 36% approval on foreign policy and 38% over all. I guess has to be nicer considering they always do their best to protect Obama.

    September 9, 2013 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  9. EdwardTr

    The Russian solution should be treated as a gift if it comes to fruition.

    September 9, 2013 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  10. goober

    Before he became president- the only foreign policy he ever had any experience in was choosing from the menu of Taco Bell

    September 9, 2013 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  11. hugh Jasoule

    WOW!! What a shock!! Not...

    September 9, 2013 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  12. Sven

    Poke him, I think he's done.

    September 9, 2013 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  13. John

    And, yet there is no way the love affair between Obama and the mainstream media, including CNN, will fade. Just watch the fawning and softball questions Obama receives from the (alleged) US Media. Disgusting and shameful!

    September 9, 2013 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  14. makingusAlaughingstock

    No surprises here
    He is the biggest joke EEEVVVAAA

    September 9, 2013 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  15. DC

    He's a foreigner, you think he'd have a clue....thats what chaps me.

    September 9, 2013 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  16. Tim

    I find it hard to believe that this guy gets approval for anything he does.

    September 9, 2013 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  17. yo!

    can't make everyone happy ... so just do the right thing!

    September 9, 2013 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  18. Protocols

    The politicians are actors...all of them....

    September 9, 2013 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  19. hibeam

    This sort of reminds me of when we hired that drunk guy to run our nuclear reactor. It was pretty hilarious at first.

    September 9, 2013 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  20. freedom

    Nobel Peace Prize? What a joke!

    September 9, 2013 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  21. just saying

    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.
    ----–

    how could anybody approve of this miserbale failure of a president? they obviously don't have a clue about anything, just like obama. this is why this country is heading south fast. too many clueless fools thinking clueless fools are doing a wonderful job being a clueless fool.

    September 9, 2013 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  22. hibeam

    He does not look very happy. His body language is saying "I wish I had the skill sets for this job".

    September 9, 2013 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  23. Jim Steele

    35% of those polled are 'far left' who will approve no matter what Obama does. This leaves him at 5%.

    September 9, 2013 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  24. Bob

    He breaks everything he touches.

    September 9, 2013 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  25. Danny

    Good, he has nothing to lose, pull out of the Middle East now!!!

    September 9, 2013 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
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