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. Naota

    They burn Christian villages.

    They eat human hearts in broad daylight.

    And they torture their prisoners before shooting them in the back.

    These are the people obama wants to help.

    September 9, 2013 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  2. just saying

    obama has managed to make himself and the whole country look like fools by shooting off his mouth and making idle threats he was not ready to backup. he just doesn't know when to stfu. he is in love with the sound of his own voice. and that narcisism has brought us to the brink of war. all because he shot from the lip and now wants to save face by attacking syria. the good news is the american people are finally catching on to this bumbling idiot 5 years too late.

    September 9, 2013 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  3. Malone

    The US shows up after England and France to launch missiles at Libya; no boots on the ground, and the Republicans say Obama went to war without Congressional approval.
    This time, in Syria where neither side likes the US, Obama hands it to Congress, and the Republicans hate Obama.
    The President allowing Congress to decide was a great decision. And an easy way to stay out of Syria.
    It's funny (and I really mean verbal blithering from sub-human idiots) how people call Obama a dictator.

    September 9, 2013 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  4. dave

    Anyone else notice how quiet Hillary is? I guess she doesn't want to look stupid, again, and will wait to make a comment based on the outcome, and exactly how she would have handled it differently AFTER all the results are shown. Kerry looks more presidential.

    September 9, 2013 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  5. I am black but don't worship black

    Fine, don't post my comments you know it's the truth. Mainstream media–what can you expect?

    September 9, 2013 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  6. Ngoc-V-Le/Le-Roy

    THE WAR NOT BUSINESS OR ECONOMICS. The War to be Enemy Between the People to the people..That is not Good to the Children Life in The future....We need pacific all together Humane and Moral in the WORLD.

    September 9, 2013 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  7. georgex9

    This started out as a nice surgical attack and then we could come away clean. Don't believe that. This will just drag us into another long war. Congress do the President a favor and vote no so he has less obligation. His duty is to the citizens and not to rich people and lobbyists.

    September 9, 2013 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  8. Steve

    Nest Time magazine headline:

    "We're All Racists Now"

    September 9, 2013 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  9. SarahD

    A community organizer is not the right choice for this job. Period...

    September 9, 2013 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  10. JBar595

    Since this is a CNN poll, you can figure Obama true approval rating is 30%.

    September 9, 2013 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  11. Yeah..right

    "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"

    Aka the Majority still do not approve how obama is handling his job

    September 9, 2013 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  12. HaHa

    The 40% that approved couldn't even find America on a map...

    September 9, 2013 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  13. bk

    Critics, I know u r going to say next is Obama is responsible for Siriya/Egypt crisys. You made up urs mind 5 years back. Isn't it? You just looking for some excuse to criticise Obama. Did somebody say Obama is Bush 2.0. I think that says a lot.

    September 9, 2013 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  14. Vince

    Obama is handling Syria perfectly. Today a solution appears possible, thanks to his patience and deliberation. What a contrast to years of rushing to wars without deliberation and patience. It is easy to bomb places. It is much harder to think through all the consequences and try to resolve the problem without costly wars.

    September 9, 2013 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  15. woodie

    You can't judge his policy until the event is over and you look at the outcome. I don't think people even understand the diplomacy that is happening here.

    September 9, 2013 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  16. Steve

    I hope those against doing a strike or even the threat of a strike are just kicking the can down road for warfare. You allow a dictator to gas his own people using an agent that is agreed upon to never be used by 98% of the world and you all just want him to do nothing. You just want to clean your hands and look away. Frankly, I think you've lost your moral compass if you truly believe that. You allow this to occur and pandora's box will be open with respect to weapon use in the future.

    September 9, 2013 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  17. Sisao Tresed

    This entire middle-east mess is emblematic of Obama's inability to bring together the "people and coalitions" necessary to quiet-down this region. Sadly, in this administration, any crisis HAS to be seen as a reason to look at what Obama's other hand is doing.

    September 9, 2013 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  18. cmml

    The 40% who approve still think Obama walks on water. His numbers will never dip below that. What this means is that every American who can think on their own without the help of Rachel Maddow, Chris Matthews (or Rush Limbaugh & Sean Hannity) disapprove of Obama's handling of this situation

    September 9, 2013 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  19. Mike Hunt

    I am amazed that even 40 percent could be in favor of this group of idiots. I didn't realize that the rate of alcoholism was that high. When those folks sober up, they will say "I said I supported WHAT?"

    September 9, 2013 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  20. Community Organizer running the United States? Geesh

    Give it up Obama. You are WAY IN over your head. Mr Nobel Peace Prize winner? Can somebody please explain to me why he won that award? Give it back Obama. I'll pay for the return shipping.

    September 9, 2013 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  21. don in albuquerque

    Assad and his whole family need a personal visit from a Seal Team. Problem solved, no bombs, only a small mess to clean up. We have not taken the moral highroad in decades so this should not be shocking. Of course, it would do little to put money into the pockets of the Military Industrial Complex which is what this boils down too.

    September 9, 2013 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  22. jcx2

    It is time for those who "love" Obama to realize they are very much like an abused wife....no matter how much he does that is wrong, arrogant and foolish, they overlook it and think he really doesn't mean any of it. He could beat them or their children, but it is the fault of others...even themselves. Unfortunately this loyalty is taking the Country down with them, and many will die because they, and he, can't say NO. To those I say, you deserve the bad economy, the lack of jobs, the loss of your homes, etc., but your foolishness spreads to the rest of us. Wake up....get some self respect, stop looking at him as if he is the only thing in the world..it's ok if you are enamored of him...just don't support him in his complete inept and narcissist bumblings.

    September 9, 2013 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    Naota said:
    "They burn Christian villages.
    They eat human hearts in broad daylight.
    And they torture their prisoners before shooting them in the back.
    These are the people obama wants to help."

    Naota, uou are confused. It's John McCain that wants to help these people. Obama has been trying to stay out of it as much as possible. The chemical weapons use, has pushed him to the point of wanting to punish the users of chemical weapons. The new proposal of Assad giving up his chemical weapons may give the USA an out so that we don't have to choose between very bad alternatives.

    September 9, 2013 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  24. dingybats

    Republicans are warmongers, that's why Obama, Reid, Pelosi, and Feinstink bombed Libya and now wants to bomb Syria. It's Bush's fault. Foxnews caused it. Anyone who doesn't want a war to blow up Middle Easterners is a racist. CNN is full of KKK racist Nazis.

    LOL liberalism truly is a mental disorder

    September 9, 2013 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  25. james

    I hope Obama will also formulate an economic policy. It is past time.

    September 9, 2013 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
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