Russian President Vladimir Putin has declared that Russian troops could take Kiev in two weeks. The bloodthirsty militants of ISIS have beheaded another American journalist and control territory from Syria to the gates of Baghdad. And although the upcoming midterm elections may appear to be focused on domestic policy concerns like health care and the economy, the growing anxiety over President Obama’s handling of global events seems to be weighing down his job approval rating—and, by extension, Democratic chances in the fall.
Between the bad optics of ill-timed golf rounds and a too-candid admission that we “don’t have a strategy yet” to deal with ISIS in Syria, Obama’s underwhelming leadership on international affairs has attracted a lot of criticism in recent weeks. And while he says he’ll lay out more details of his plan to deal with global threats on Wednesday, voters are growing less and less convinced that Obama is up to the task of leading us through uncertain times in a dangerous world.
Obama’s second term has been largely characterized by gridlock and disappointment on the domestic policy front. Still, voters don’t hold him entirely responsible for this fact—Congress averages a job approval rating that’s barely above 10 percent, and Republicans shoulder more blame for last year’s government shutdown than do Obama and the Democrats. And while voters have long been unimpressed with the president’s handling of issues like the economy and health care, they seem no more upset with him over these things than they were in his first term. His health care law is roughly as unpopular today as it was in September 2010, and his 40 percent approval rating on the health care issue is essentially unchanged from where it was four years ago (PDF).
The key difference between 2010 and today is that, back then, about half of Americans still approved of the job Obama was doing overall (PDF). That’s because, despite whatever qualms they had about Obamacare and a lackluster recovery, four years ago many voters still thought Obama was dealing with the rest of the world in the right way and keeping us safe, and gave him credit for that.
Now Obama’s overall job approval sags in the low 40s. Disapproval is regularly 10 or more points higher than approval, and a likely reason for this is plunge in popularity among voters is the president’s foreign policy. What was once the bright spot in the president’s otherwise lackluster polling numbers is now the anchor pulling him down. In fact, a recent poll shows only 31 percent of American voters saying they approve of the job the president is doing on foreign policy, a number that lags behind his overall approval rating—and his approval rating on the economy and health care, his two primary weak spots throughout his presidency.
More articles from The Daily Beast:
- French Jihadi Mehdi Nemmouche Is the Shape of Terror to Come
- Republicans Offer Obama ISIS War Authorization He Doesn’t Want
- Why We Need a Left Wing Tea Party
© 2014 Newsweek/Daily Beast Company LLC
PHOTO: Getty Images