Obama scores high approval rating, but not in all areas


The 2012 election season has begun looking brighter for Democrats. Days after their candidate won an upset victory in a special congressional election in a heavily Republican district in western New York, CNN released the results of a new poll it carried out, showing President Obama’s approval ratings on the rise.

According to the poll, 54 percent of Americans approve of Obama’s overall job performance, while 45 percent disapprove. In April, Obama’s approval rating was 48 percent. The current number is Obama’s highest since he scored the same result in Dec. 2009.

But while overall numbers look good, the poll results still show reasons for Democrats to worry. Out of 11 specific issues, Obama scored more than 50 percent approval in only three areas, and those were all foreign policy issues.

By large majorities, Americans approve of Obama’s handling of Iraq, Afghanistan and, especially, terrorism, in which he won 65 percent support. This, the CNN pollsters say, is due to the killing of Osama bin Laden, especially for senior citizens and independents. In January, Obama scored 60 percent for his handling of terrorism, and other polls have shown a bump since bin Laden’s execution by Navy SEALs.

Obama scored points on Afghanistan as he has promised to end that war. A separate poll, done by Gallup earlier this month, showed that 59 percent of the American people now oppose the war in Afghanistan, and 80 percent said they approve of Obama’s plan to begin removing troops in July.

On the situation in Libya and the conflict between Israel and Palestine, the public is about evenly split, almost within the three-point margin of error.

Obama recently returned from a trip around Europe, in which he made high profile visits to Ireland and the United Kingdom, as well as stops in Poland and elsewhere. In general, Americans seem to be happy with Obama’s presidency overall and his administration’s foreign policy – but not its handling of domestic issues.

Perhaps not surprisingly, given the extremely high cost of gas, only one in four Americans, exactly 25 percent, approve of his handling of gas prices. Still, the president falls short on virtually all other issues, including taxes, the economy, the deficit and his signature issue, health care.

Polling is not a zero-sum game, however. A lack of support for Obama’s policies in one area does not automatically translate to support for the Republican alternative. For example, while Obama received only 44 percent support on his handling of Medicare, Americans have widely rejected the GOP’s proposals. The same is the case with health care. The 57 percent who disapprove of Obama’s policies in this area include people who agree with the Republicans, but also those who think health care reform did not go far enough.

More troubling for Democrats is a widespread unhappiness with Obama’s handling of the deficit. While many economists, the labor movement and sections of the Obama administration believe that the only way to solve America’s economic troubles is to increase public investments into infrastructure and other areas, there seems to be no political appetite for it, unless it comes with spending reductions elsewhere.

Without that public stimulus spending, though, the national jobs crisis is likely to worsen, causing more unhappiness with the economy. A poor economy nearly always translates into lower presidential approval ratings. If the economy does not improve, Obama’s increased approval ratings might be short-lived.

Still, the high overall approval rating of President Obama, combined with a widespread unhappiness with GOP policies, does seem to give the Democrats a better chance going into 2012 than they had in 2010.

The poll, in which 1,007 Americans were interviewed by telephone, has a three-point margin of error and was conducted May 24-26.

Photo: President Obama greets troops in Iraq (U.S. Army/cc by 2.0/Flickr)

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  • just because one is not working class does not mean one cannot be a communist/ socialist. I personally think that everyone should have a great education, and with that education, all should be given the same amount of food, clothing, and necessities. If all the world's food was distributed equally, no one would go hungry. there is enough to go around, but many of the overly wealthy were not taught to share in preschool.

    Posted by John, 07/27/2011 10:18pm (4 years ago)

  • i thnk this next election will b decided on the economy lack of jobs, higher food prices caused by high gas prices which afffects all of us especially the working class in solidarity jim

    Posted by jim, 06/03/2011 3:39pm (4 years ago)

  • Obama did not create this mess. He just took the job of cleaning it up. What Presidential Candidate comes a close 2nd to him? Be prepared to see Obama for a second term. Great Article!

    Posted by red, 06/03/2011 4:14am (5 years ago)

  • It's interesting that Obama scores well on polls on foreign policy. Of course killing bin Laden won praise from those who ignore the rule of law, who don't mind covering up bin Laden's ties to the U.S. government and its terrorism or who believe that the empire will stop its wars on "terrorism." And while the vast majority of our people want out of the wars, the administration nor Congress neither know how to accomplish that, or want to.

    From the perspective of the peace movement, Obama scores poorly. Bin Laden was an excuse to attack and occupy geopolitically strategic countries, take over their resources and plant U.S. military bases. The surge in killing in Afghanistan, the reluctance to withdraw all troops from Iraq, the undeclared war on Pakistan, drone strikes in Yemen and the new war on Libya; the continued breaking of our Constitution through indefinite detentions in Guantanamo, extension of the PATRIOT Act, FBI raids on peace activists; the coup in Honduras in 2009, the creation of the 4th Naval fleet to threaten Latin America, the building of military bases in Colombia, continued threats against progressive Venezuelan and Bolivian governments, continued incarceration of the Cuban 5 and freedom for Luis Posada Carriles and the embargo; continued support of the Israeli occupation of Palestine and starving of Gaza; building more nuclear weapons making plants rather than abolishing such weapons. I could go on.

    Obama is not unique in supporting imperialism. Nor is he alone in government.

    Obama's opposition is even more scary. The combination makes the 2012 elections a huge challenge for the peace movement.

    Posted by Henry CT, 06/02/2011 10:30pm (5 years ago)

  • Obama's lies bring his approval ratings down. Why make campaign promises you can't keep. And the one that really gets me is that Obama claims that there will be no ground troops in Libya. That is a bold face lie. There are US Special Forces and CIA Operatives there. How do US Airstikes hit thier targets without the Person on the ground pointing the laser. Some people are easily fooled.

    Posted by richard, 06/02/2011 1:26pm (5 years ago)

  • President Obama is only a man and is only as good as those who feed him advice.
    As an Independent whose perspective of both parties tends toward dumping both, I want real results not platitudes and real answers to complex problems.
    Those who are party insiders in both parties develop policies favoring themselves or their insider friends not the general public . Both favor Corporatism with oligaracy pockets dictating our economic direction.
    Capitalism is totally incapable of solving social problems and will not. Totalitarian Socialism of one man one party is a proven farce as well.
    It is time the working class or what is left of it needs to start looking after their pocketbooks or all of us will be on an allowance dictated from Washington.

    Posted by SwampFox2u, 06/02/2011 11:04am (5 years ago)

  • Where's the Transparency Obama promised? Another broken campaign promise will bring his ratings down also. For Example : Barack Obama denounced the Bush administration for holding "secret energy meetings" with oil executives at the White House. But his own administration rejected a Freedom of Information Act request for Secret Service logs showing the identities of coal executives who had visited the White House to discuss Obama's "clean coal" policies.

    Posted by george , 06/02/2011 12:55am (5 years ago)

  • Another Bad Economy excuse? That excuse is really getting old.

    Posted by tim, 06/01/2011 10:32pm (5 years ago)

  • US Troops are not leaving Afganistan any time soon or may not leave at all. Dick Cheney and his DC boys will not allow a withdrawl. Halliburton will lose millions of dollars if this happens. They are not done lining thier pockets and will pay off whoever they need to to keep the Troops in Afganistan.

    Posted by ed finn, 06/01/2011 8:55pm (5 years ago)

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