President’s Obama’s approval on foreign policy has once again hit an all-time low, with majorities of Democrats now saying the president has been too weak in his responses to the numerous crises around the world. Obama speaking from Martha’s Vineyard Thursday claimed that U.S.-led airstrikes have stopped the advance by ISIS in Iraq, though lawmakers on both sides of the aisle aren’t yet in agreement with the president.
Whether the events will cause American voters to see Obama’s foreign policy in a more favorable light, remains in dispute. On the PPD average of polls, just 35.8 percent of Americans approve of Obama’s handling of foreign policy, while nearly 54 percent disapprove. These numbers are significant, considering foreign policy was a strong issue for him throughout the 2012 campaign. In the fall of 2012, 49 percent of voters approved of his performance on foreign policy, according to a survey conducted for FOX News, which was higher than any other issue.
In fact, even though the president’s overall approval numbers have been underwater for over a year — and, currently stand at a negative 41 – 53 percent — his numbers on foreign policy were stubbornly high before displaying the most dramatic shift in public opinion out of any other issue. Behind the shift lays a deepening disapproval among voters who identify with the president’s own party.
Voters, overall, continue to give President Obama poor ratings regarding the job he is doing on Iraq, Israel and Ukraine. However, they approve of the recent U.S. airstrikes he ordered last week against ISIS militants in Iraq.
According to a new FOX poll released Wednesday, 74-percent say Obama hasn’t been tough enough on Russia, which is up from 66 percent measured in March. On the flip side, an embarrassing 6 percent of voters say Obama has been too tough, while 10 percent volunteer “about right.” Even 65 percent of Democrats agree with 69 percent of independents and 88 percent of Republicans, who agree Obama needs to be tougher on Russia and Vladimir Putin.
In the poll, only 16 percent of voters say Putin takes Obama seriously, while 77 percent think he doesn’t, including 64 percent of Democrats.
The August 4, 2014, issue of TIME Magazine shouted the headline title, “Cold War II – The West is losing Putin’s dangerous game.” PPD previously examined whether the American people agreed with that headline and, as far as the results, the conclusion was damning for the president.
At that point, a survey conducted by Rasmussen Reports found that 63 percent of likely voters believed it is at least “somewhat likely” that the United States and Russia will return to a 1950s-like Cold War relationship within the next few years. That’s a startling number, even for those who aren’t particularly fond of Rasmussen polls, because it is up 18 points from 45 percent they measured in March and up an astonishing 27 points from 36 percent in August 2013.
Now, the most recent measurement of the national mood is continuing to validate those results.
In the FOX poll, a similar 64 percent think it is likely there will be a new cold war with Russia, which is also up from 54 percent who felt that way back in August 2008, when the same pollster posed the same question during the conflict between Russia and the Republic of Georgia. Increases, again, are observed across the political spectrum, with Democrats up 6 points, independents up a whopping 12 points, and Republicans leading the cautious with 15 more points than previously measured.
On Ukraine, a situation NATO is warning could soon turn into a Russian invasion under the pretext of a humanitarian operation, just 31 percent of voters said they approved of how Obama is handling the crisis, while 50 percent disapprove. Approval among Democrats is an unimpressive 52 percent, which is far outweighed by the 70 percent of Republicans who disapprove.
In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is enjoying unprecedented support from the Israeli people regarding how he is handling the recent conflict with Hamas. According to a recent survey conducted by Gallup, Americans heavily favor Israel and say “Operation Protective Edge” was justified. President Obama, however, who was openly critical of the Israeli response to Hamas launching rockets and subterranean attacks, is widely admonished for his statements and positions.
On the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, 30 percent approve of the president’s stance, while 54 percent disapprove and more voters say Obama has “not been supportive enough” of Israel (38 percent) than think it has been “too supportive” (18 percent) or “about right” in its support (33 percent).
These numbers are no doubt troubling for House Democrats seeking reelection in tough districts, as well as senators hanging by a thread in Republican-leaning states.There is an old adage in political science that says “foreign policy can’t help a president, but it sure can sink him.” Because voters can no longer hold Obama responsible for their disappointment, the only other option they have is to punish members of his party at the ballot box in November. Whether voters choose to do so or not will not be certain until November, 3. But what is certain is that the issue of foreign policy is becoming increasingly important as the 2014 midterm elections draw near.
The Fox News poll is based on landline and cell phone interviews with 1,001 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide and was conducted under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R) from August 10-12, 2014. The full poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.