CBS/NYT poll shows Obama at new low on terrorism, foreign policy

So far, the results of Barack Obama’s big ISIS strategy speech last week look rather poor. The new CBS News/New York Times poll released this morning took place entirely after Obama’s prime-time address to the nation, but it shows the same results as similar polling at and before the speech. The President has hit new lows on both foreign policy and handling terrorism — two previous polling strengths — and a significant majority now call his presidency a disappointment:


Mr. Obama’s handling of the threat of terrorism, once considered an area of strength, is now at the lowest of his presidency. Just 41 percent approve of his handling of the issue, a drop of 12 points since March.

Since March, the president’s approval rating on handling terrorism has declined across the political spectrum: Republicans (down 11 points), Democrats (down 16 points) and independents (down 10 points).

The president’s approval rating on handling foreign policy, now at 34 percent, is also a record low. His ratings on the economy and immigration continue to be negative. Only 30 percent approve of his handling of immigration and 40 percent approve his handling of the economy.

Yesterday, Allahpundit wrote about the curious media reluctance to discuss Obama’s poor job-approval ratings and compared that to the enthusiasm which national news outlets treated similar numbers from his predecessor. CBS at least notes the comparison between the two:

At 40 percent, Mr.Obama’s job approval rating is similar to George W. Bush’s in September 2006, before the 2006 midterm elections – when Democrats captured control of the House and the Senate. Mr. Bush was at 37 percent approval 8 years ago. Former Presidents Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan were at 62 and 63 percent approval, respectively, at the same point in their presidencies.


A chart on the article compares Obama’s approval rating on terrorism since shortly after the Osama bin Laden mission. That comparison is a little unfair; the 72% from that measured the joy of closure for many Americans. George H. W. Bush had job-approval ratings in the 80s after beating Saddam Hussein in Kuwait in early 1991, but lost his re-election bid 21 months later. Still, Obama had majority approval on this issue as late as this March, when his rating was 53/38. That’s a 24-point flip in the gap in just six months.

This chart shows Obama’s main problem on this point:



Next to no one thinks Obama is being “too tough” on ISIS, and only three in ten Americans think he’s been tough enough. That is what comes from dismissing a threat as “jayvees” right up to the point where they seize ground the size of New England and start committing genocides. Even among Democrats, only half think he’s been tough enough, and 80% of the rest think Obama has been too weak. That’s hardly a ringing endorsement for the party leader.

Interestingly, 40/50 is also Obama’s job approval overall, although it’s tough to figure out how it’s that high. On the policy issues polled in this survey, his best result is a 40/53 on the economy. He gets only a 34/58 on foreign policy, and craters on immigration at 30/60. Only his personal attributes can be keeping him from sinking any deeper at this point, and one has to wonder just how much longer those can sustain Obama even to this extent.


The registered voters in this survey largely claim that this midterm won’t be a referendum on Obama, but the enthusiasm and trust results suggest otherwise. Republicans now lead on the top two issues in this election, the economy (49/38) and terrorism (52/31) by double digits, both issues on which Obama has given up the advantage over the last two years. Democrats’ lead on health care has been cut to five points (41/46) and immigration is now a dead-heat tie at 42%. And the enthusiasm gap is real, even among just a registered-voter sample:

But, there is a partisan enthusiasm gap: Republicans (45 percent) are more likely to be enthusiastic than either Democrats (33 percent) or independents (36 percent).

If the elections for the U.S. House of Representatives were held today, Republicans would hold a six-point edge (45 to 39 percent) in a national vote among likely voters – those most apt to vote in this election. But with nearly two months to go before Election Day, there is time for change, as 12 percent of likely voters say they don’t know who they would vote for or it depends.

Even those who plan to vote for the Republican candidate for Congress this year disapprove of the Republicans in Congress, but they disapprove of the Democrats, and Mr. Obama, much more.


Independents are breaking to the GOP by eleven points, 40/31. That’s an eye-popping number, and one that has at least something to do with the lack of leadership at the top of the Democratic Party.

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David Strom 6:00 PM | February 27, 2024