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. ThinkAgain

    @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."

    Thank you, Sir, for not only your service, but for your perspective. I agree that if we just sit on our hands and do nothing, we are a disgrace as a nation. I am very hopeful that the threat of air strikes will bring to fruition the offer by Assad to turn over his chemical weapons stockpile.

    September 9, 2013 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  2. srcactus

    Obama will act with ior without congressional approval and there will be an impeachment hearing of the spoiled brat. How the a hearing finds will be interesting

    September 9, 2013 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  3. ed wood

    War mongering Obama supporters will have innocent civilian blood on their hands when this is over

    September 9, 2013 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  4. Larry L

    Americans wanted our Congress to approve or disapprove military action in Syria, yet Congress remains useless. Fewer than a third have even attended the many briefings provided to give them insight into the problem.

    Beyond foreign policy – the Congress is just as useless. What legislation have we seen to do anything besides score political points? What have they actually produced regarding immigration reform, global climate change, job creation, Social Security, or repair to our infrastructure? Have they made a sincere attempt to improve healthcare – or just worked to discredit the opposition? They haven't even proposed an actual budget – even though funding our government is their most basic task. Why have we accepted their performance? What ideas and proposals have they actually debated?

    Americans are being repaid for foolishly electing political weasels rather than statesmen. Since we allowed a radical hate media to control our emotions and perspectives, we are getting the government we deserve.

    September 9, 2013 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  5. Jasper2

    Appaling. APPALING! 54% of Democrats APPROVE of Obama's handling of the Syria mess? I'll bet they would approve of his approving going to war against Europe.

    Just think of what that number will be when Obama "legalizes" the 12 million plus illegal Mexicrats.

    September 9, 2013 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  6. Bill from Long Island

    If I lower my rating of Barack any further, he would be at -1.

    September 9, 2013 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  7. Paul

    I love the fact that Obama is taking the Syria attack to congress. Now, the do nothing congress will have to take a vote. The republicans are really losing sleep. They hate this president and always vote "no" on anything he wants. But, they love war just as much as they hate Obama. Caught in a bind?

    September 9, 2013 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  8. Dan

    Who is dumb enough to approve of this clown's handling of anything? It is 4 years in and he is STILL trying to sell his one "accomplishment" as something that will not destroy the economy and now he is being outdone by a dictator and Soviet strongman

    September 9, 2013 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  9. Sennono henrikysen

    Indeed the Americans could give obama their thumbs up such that the earth get rid of asad with their brutal en torture

    September 9, 2013 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  10. ThinkAgain

    @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."

    I agree. These are the same folks who put on sheets and hoods because they don't have the stones to admit what horrible, pathetic, cowardly creatures they are.

    September 9, 2013 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  11. wade moran

    Sad that the media will only start providing honest coverage of this man when we're on the eve of World War III

    September 9, 2013 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  12. Anthony James

    All he can do is hit "new lows".

    September 9, 2013 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  13. Zolicon

    The Ship is sinking.

    September 9, 2013 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  14. Lynda/Minnesota

    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."

    Oh, don't leave yet. You've gotta read the comments. This is what CNN lives for ... comments from the
    peanut gallery. So sit back, take an minute, and then indulge away at what passes as intelligent conversation in America.

    September 9, 2013 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  15. Joan smith

    a major symptom of sarin gas is an irritant to the mucous membranes. Mucous membranes are the nose, ears, eyes,mouth, anus and genitalia. Have we seen profuse mucus coming out of the noses these Syrian victims? I haven't. Have we seen bloodshot swollen eyelids, continuous foaming of the mouth? A lot can be faked with a shaky unfocused camera. These rebels are al quaeda. They can fabricate symptoms on cameras. We need medical personnel looking at these videos to evaluate them as truth. It isalso possible for the rebels themselves to poison their own people. If the USA wants to help then we need to help the refugees first.

    September 9, 2013 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  16. c-lo

    When Van Jones doesn't even endorse Obama's foreign policy, what else would you expect from anyone other than the true Obama Minions?

    September 9, 2013 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  17. bill pike

    few approve???? how about Libya/Egypt/IRS/NSA???? the difference is his ego can get us into a war. When you mess with someone's civil war it is called stupid.

    September 9, 2013 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  18. iambicpentamaster

    Stupid Americans!

    You wouldn't know an erudite tyrant if he gave you EBT and a free phone.

    Why, he's the Murder-By-Drone, warmongering Nobel Peace Prize recipient, the self-anointed Obamessiah.

    He will do as he pleases and you will alternately worship and obey him.

    This is Obamanation.

    September 9, 2013 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  19. Zolicon

    The Ship is sinking fast.

    September 9, 2013 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  20. Karen Carter

    would you please give me more information on how you conduct the polls? other than telephone surveys, how are people randomly selected: by their income? race? political party? I know hundreds of people and none of them have ever received a request to participate in a poll. Nor have I, and I make it a point to vote in every election.

    September 9, 2013 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  21. dave

    I'd give him an A in foreign policy, it's not really his fault that we can't have a foreign policy that makes sense, it's really Congress' fault, particularily the House. They House republicans have made a shambles out of just about everything. That inability to govern by the House republicans effects just about everything. Their lack of ability to make a budget that is acceptable to Americans destroys any attempt at foreign policy. Polls don't really mean that much with a Black President, some do not accept anything that he does because he is Black. In order for a poll to have meaning you'd have to seperate out the bigots, then have a poll just among the bigots, of course that poll would always read that the bigots give a low approval rating for the President on everything.

    September 9, 2013 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  22. concern

    Syriia was all about shifting focus away from homefront probems/failures.

    September 9, 2013 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  23. longdrycreek

    Low poling numbers are the equivalent of a No Confidence vote. Obama is unskilled and has no concept of leadership, so why trust him to make the right decision or choice?
    But we have a great leadership vacuum in all three branches of government and in the vast, bloated bureaucracy, and this spells trouble in capital letters.

    September 9, 2013 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  24. chuck

    Think again and SC,
    I would say that the majority of Americans do not agree with you with regard to attacking. As for Obama being a talented leader? Well, now you're just being foolish!

    September 9, 2013 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  25. dicobalt

    Obama's idea of foreign policy is to spy on people using the internet then accuse others of doing the same. Let's not have real intel people on the ground and in the thick. Don't get your information in context, no way, snip it off a piece at a time to paint the picture in your mind. Never get the whole story, always keep it limited. Don't ask for "just the facts maam" you should insert some opinion too. Everyone in Washington disappoints me, they see 4 years ahead at all times.

    September 9, 2013 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
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