Carville poll: Majority now say U.S. is less respected than it was two years ago

It’s a poll of Americans, not foreigners, so it’s not so much evidence that we are less respected than that we perceive ourselves to be. I hope The One finds comfort in that fact when these numbers start to shake out in November.


The Democracy Corps-Third Way survey released Monday finds that by a 10-point margin — 51 percent to 41 percent — Americans think the standing of the U.S. dropped during the first 13 months of Mr. Obama’s presidency.

“This is surprising, given the global acclaim and Nobel peace prize that flowed to the new president after he took office,” said pollsters for the liberal-leaning organizations.

On the national security front, a massive gap has emerged, with 50 percent of likely voters saying Republicans would likely do a better job than Democrats, a 14-point swing since May. Thirty-three percent favored Democrats…

A May 2009 survey by the pollsters found the public saw the Democratic and Republican parties as equally able to handle national security (41 percent trusted Democrats more, and 43 percent trusted Republicans more.) On conducting the war on terrorism, the two parties were tied at 41 percent.

The GOP leads by 13 on “keeping America safe” and by 31 on “ensuring a strong military,” both traditional advantages. But on the “standing in the world” question, I’m at a loss. That issue was at the very innermost core of Bush’s poor public image; there was no bar set lower for Obama than improving international perceptions of America. Republicans can be expected to say that the country’s image has dropped, but I figured nearly 100 percent of Democrats and a heavy majority of indies would see The One as an improvement over Dubya. And yet. I can’t find crosstabs by party at the Third Way site but I assume these numbers are being driven in part by lefty disenchantment with Obama’s willingness to continue some Bush policies (Afghanistan, tribunals, drone attacks, indefinite detention, etc.). It’s still surprising that they’d say the U.S.’s image is actually worse now than under Bush, although I suppose the reasoning there is that the world had such high hopes for a kinder, gentler, more Bambi-like America and to see those dreams dashed has only made them more embittered, etc.

I’d love to see the party crosstabs on this, too. Hmmmm:

Fifty-seven percent of likely voters approve of Obama’s handling of national security—ten points higher than his general 47 percent approval rating, according to a new Democracy Corps/GQR/Third Way poll out Monday.

Where Obama loses: interrogation and prosecution of terrorism suspects, where a 51-44 percent majority disapproves. Republicans have hammered the administration for its decision to read the alleged Christmas Day bomber his Miranda rights, and the poll results show the message is sticking…

The memo, prepared by veteran Democratic pollsters Stan Greenberg and Jeremy Rosner, advises Democrats to avoid what has so far been one of their key counter-arguments: Comparing the underwear bomber to so-called shoe bomber Richard Reid, who was read his Miranda rights after the Bush administration arrested him. “Voters resist the argument that the Obama administration simply handled the Christmas bomber in the same way the Bush administration handled the ‘shoe bomber’ case; this sounds political, and produces a weak response,” they wrote.

In a sane world, these numbers would give Lindsey Graham all the reason he needs to walk away from the “compromise” to bring detainees to Illinois in exchange for trying KSM in a tribunal. Although, with numbers this bad, Obama may walk away from closing Gitmo himself. He can rationalize making a move that looks “weak” if he’s perceived as strong in other areas of national security, but with a 14-point swing since last year, he has to do something. Democrats already walk with a limp because of O-Care; with their other leg now wobbling too, they’ll collapse by November without some help.

Exit question: Who wants to volunteer to teach tenderhearted Democrats how to talk tough on terrorism? (Pssst: Don’t mention jihad.)