WaPo/ABC poll: 53% disapprove of Obama handling of Syria

Did Barack Obama make his case a week ago on military intervention in Syria? A new Washington Post/ABC poll answers that question with an adamant no. More than six out of ten oppose military intervention in Syria, and respondents disapprove of Obama’s handling of the crisis by a wide 39/53 split:

Americans overwhelmingly support the diplomatic agreement between the United States and Russia to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons, despite having deep doubts about the Syrian regime’s compliance and giving low marks overall for how President Obama is handling the situation, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The president faced strong public opposition when he initially argued for military strikes against the Syrian regime in retaliation for its alleged use of chemical weapons. That opposition is largely unchanged in the new survey, with 61 percent saying that they are against such strikes. …

Still, just 36 percent say they approve of his handling of the Syria situation, while 53 percent disapprove. Sixty percent of Democrats rate the president positively, while 79 percent of Republicans and 59 percent of independents rate him negatively.

Not all of the news is bad for Obama, at least not on the surface of this poll.  His approval rating is 47/47, but it’s only 42/54 among independents.  The trend lines have gone straight downward since April among all three partisan demographics.  He has a narrow 3-point lead on his leadership of international affairs (47/44), and does better on “strong leader” (54/44).  However, that too has dropped since the beginning of the year, when he got a 61% and foreign policy was his strong suit.  On “shares your values,” Obama finds himself under water at 47/49, a significant change from earlier in his presidency; only 40% of independents now agree.

On the policy itself with Syria, plenty of people are happy with the result.  The Russian plan garners a 79/16 approval rating, which again raises the question of why Obama didn’t come up with this plan first before demanding authorization for deeply unpopular American military intervention.  In fact, Democrats support that idea more than the other partisan demos (86%, with 71% among the GOP and 82% among independents).  Still, only 29% have confidence in Syrian compliance with such a plan, while 68% have little confidence on that as a solution.  Even if they don’t, a plurality (48%) still oppose Congressional authorization for strikes (44% support it), even though by a 47/40 split respondents thought Obama was “persuasive” on military strikes.

Finally, the poll asked whether Obama strengthened or weakened US leadership in the world in his handling of the Syria crisis.  Only 17% believe that American global leadership has been strengthened, while almost double that figure (32%) believe it to be weaker as a result of the last three weeks.  Those numbers aren’t a vote of confidence for the Commander in Chief.