One of the oddities of Barack Obama’s slide in popularity over the summer is that his ratings on foreign policy have held up quite well. Who would have suspected, seven months ago, that in less than a year foreign policy would be the one area where most Americans still approved of his performance?
Unfortunately for Obama, as Byron York notes, Americans are now turning on Obama with respect to foreign affairs, too:
For much of the summer, as approval ratings for President Obama’s handling of the economy, health care, the deficit, and other domestic issues declined, the one bright spot in the president’s polling was his handling of foreign affairs.
No longer. The new CNN/Opinion Research poll, released Tuesday afternoon, shows a sharp decline in the public’s approval of Obama’s handling of a number of international issues.
In March, according to CNN, 67 percent of those surveyed approved of Obama’s handling of the situation in Afghanistan. Now, that number is 49 percent — an 18 percentage-point drop. The number of those who disapprove of Obama’s Afghanistan policy has grown from 29 percent to 46 percent.
In March, 61 percent approved of Obama’s handling of terrorism. Now, it’s 52 percent — a nine point drop. The number of people who disapprove has gone from 35 percent to 45 percent.
In March, 66 percent approved of Obama’s handling of foreign affairs in general. Now, it’s 54 percent — a 12 point drop. The number of people who disapprove has gone from 28 percent to 42 percent.
What’s caused the decline? Concern about events in Afghanistan, for sure. Maybe the cumulative effect of Obama’s blame-America-first speeches overseas. Does persecuting CIA officers count as foreign policy? If so, that’s a big factor too.
As Byron says, “this has been a summer of extraordinary decline” for President Obama.
PAUL adds: I think the decline in approval of Obama’s handling of foreign affairs has been caused by “all of the above.” I also believe that when the public becomes unhappy with a president for one set of reasons, there sometimes is a spillover effect. It’s a bit like falling out of love.