President Barack Obama’s overall approval rating remains in the mid-40s, where it has been since July, and he continues to receive much higher marks for foreign policy than for domestic issues, according to a new national survey out one year before he is up for re-election.
A CNN/ORC International Poll released Tuesday indicates that 52% of all Americans approve of how the president is handling the situation in Iraq, an indication that Americans tend to favor Obama’s decision to withdraw all U.S. troops from that country by year’s end. Forty-eight percent of those questioned approve of how he is handling the war in Afghanistan. By contrast, only 35% have a positive view of his economic track record, and just 38% approve of how he is handling health care policy.
It all adds up to an overall 46% approval rating for the president, with 52% saying they disapprove of how Obama is handling his job in the White House.
“That’s par for the course for Obama, whose overall approval rating has been hovering in the mid 40s in every CNN poll conducted since June,” CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said.
In comparison to recent incumbents running for re-election, Obama’s 46% approval ranks above only Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford – who both lost their re-election bids – in November of the year before an election. Most incumbents who were re-elected had an approval rating above 50% a year before the election. But George W. Bush, at 50%, and Richard Nixon, at 49%, also won re-election, and Bush’s father George H.W. Bush had a 56% approval rating yet lost to Bill Clinton the following year.
“Translation: while the approval rating is an important indicator of a president’s strength, it is not a foolproof predictor of election results,” Holland said.
The poll indicates that the standard partisan divide over the president remains, with three-quarters of Democrats giving Obama a thumbs up but only 15% of Republicans approving of the job he’s doing in office. By a 54%-42% margin, independent voters disapprove of how the president’s handling his duties.
Women are divided on how Obama’s performing, but men disapprove by a 55%-43% margin. White Americans give Obama a thumbs down by a 61%-36% margin, with non-white Americans give the president a thumbs up by a more than 2-1 margin.
The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International from November 11-13, with 1,036 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey’s overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.
CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.