Gallup’s latest poll rep0rt comes from a survey completed last weekend, before Barack Obama finally addressed the nation on his decision to attack Libya, so don’t take this as an endorsement or a refutation of his speech Monday night. Bear in mind that Americans tend to rally around Presidents during the opening phases of new military action, and that voters tend to give executives more benefit of doubt on foreign policy in general (although not always, as Gallup points out). With that in mind, it’s no surprise to see Obama score best on foreign policy and Libya in this poll — but that’s hardly good news:
Americans continue to generally rate President Barack Obama’s handling of international issues better than his handling of domestic issues. Forty-six percent approve of the president’s handling of foreign affairs and 44% his handling of Libya, while his highest rating on three domestic issues is 40% for healthcare policy.
Obama’s approval ratings on all five issues tested in the March 25-27 Gallup poll are below 50%, as is his overall job approval rating, which is 47% in the latest Gallup Daily three-day rolling average.
Gallup has asked Americans about Obama’s handling of most of these issues throughout his term. While all currently rank on the low end of what Gallup has measured during his presidency, none is at its lowest point and most have been fairly stable in recent months.
He’s underwater on foreign affairs at 46/47, actually, and barely breathing on Libya at 44/44, but the numbers on domestic policy are much worse. Specifically, Obama is at 40/56 on his best domestic policy, health care, an issue that has been a traditional Democratic issue. On the economy, he’s 39/58, and on the federal budget deficit he’s down almost 2-1 at 33/61.
Not too surprisingly, this has led to Obama’s latest weekly job-approval rating of 45/47 (period ending 3/27). Support from independents has slightly declined over the last four weeks from 45% to 41%, a potential problem for Obama’s re-election chances next year. Among “pure independents,” that number drops to 29%, sharply lower than the previous week’s 40% and probably the source of the flip from 48/44 to 45/47. In short, Obama is in serious political trouble on his domestic agenda, even among surveys of general-population adults rather than registered voters, where Obama could have been expected to do better.