Americans have favored the Republican Party in all but two years since the question was first asked in 2002, though often by less than a majority.
The only time the Democrats were favored was in September 2007, when 47% said the Democrats could do a better job, compared with 42% for the GOP. At that time, most Americans had become pessimistic about the chances of the U.S. winning the Iraq War and were unhappy with Republican President George W. Bush’s handling of foreign policy. A year later, however, Republicans once again edged out Democrats on this issue, 49% to 42%, in a poll conducted shortly after the Republican National Convention. The Republican candidate that year was war hero and veteran Sen. John McCain, running against freshman Sen. Barack Obama.
In September 2012, in a poll conducted immediately after Obama was nominated for re-election at the Democratic National Convention, Americans were evenly split (45% for each party) on which party would better defend the nation against foreign threats.