Is Obama Tough Enough in Foreign Policy? Most Americans Don’t Think So
Policy + Politics

Is Obama Tough Enough in Foreign Policy? Most Americans Don’t Think So

In a survey conducted the same week that headlines were dominated in part by the nuclear arms deal that the U.S. and five other world powers negotiated with Iran, a majority of Americans continued to believe that President Obama is “not tough enough” when it comes to foreign policy and dealing with the national security concerns of the United States.

In a poll conducted between July 14 and July 20 by the Pew Research Center, 53 percent of Americans said the president isn’t tough enough on the U.S.’s foreign adversaries, while only 37 percent said that his approach is “about right.”

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The results, predictably, showed a distinctly partisan split. Among Republicans, 80 percent said the president isn’t tough enough, while only 12 percent felt he has is about right. Independents were also convinced the president needs to be tougher, with 54 percent saying so. Democrats, by contrast, were largely in favor of the president’s policies, with 58 percent saying he has it right.

Little Change in Views of Whether Obama Is ‘Tough Enough’ on Foreign Policy

Overall, the president’s approval rating ticked up slightly, from 46 percent to 48 percent, as his disapproval numbers fell, from 48 to 45. However, when asked about specific policy areas, the president was underwater with the public on a number of them.

The public perception of how the president is handling healthcare policy is actually at the highest level since the very beginning of his first term, but at 46 percent approving and 50 percent disapproving, it remains underwater. The improvement over the last time the question was asked by Pew, in December, was notable. The president’s approval numbers jumped seven percentage points, from 39 percent, and his disapproval fell by six percentage points, for a net swing of 13. 

On Obama’s handling of the economy, more people disapprove than approve by a 51-45 margin. The largest gap was on the foreign policy front, where disapproval ran strongly above approval, 52-38.On race relations, Obama enjoys a slightly larger approval rating than disapproval rating, at 48-43.  The margin approving his work on the climate change issue was even smaller, at 41-39.

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The public’s perception of Congress remained wretched, even if it has improved slightly since the last time the question was asked, in March. Only 25 percent of the population reported a positive view of Congress, up from 22 percent earlier this year. More than two-thirds of the country, 69 percent, have an unfavorable view of the institution, down from 72 percent.

Republicans and Democrats Agree on Negative Views of Congress

Interestingly, much of the rebound appears to be due to slight increases in approval among Independents (22 percent approval) and Democrats (29 percent approval.) Opinions about Congress among Republicans, whose party controls both the House and the Senate, ticked down slightly from the last time the question was asked, meaning that the GOP is slightly more disapproving of its own Congress than the Democrats are.