Monday, February 15, 2010

Foreign Policy Obama’s Strength

America’s foreign policy image has improved and President Barack Obama has benefited from it.

Although President Obama now has an overall approval rating at or below 50 percent, somewhat surprising is that his handling of foreign affairs is his strength and is more positively rated than his handling of domestic policy. The latest Gallup poll on the issues shows Obama receives 51 percent for handling foreign affairs whereas he receives 37 percent for handling the deficit and 36 percent for the economy.

Within the usual partisan differences between Republicans and Democrats when rating Obama’s performance, Republicans rate Obama’s Afghanistan and Iraq policies highest whereas Democrats give Iraq and Afghanistan ratings 12 to 16 percent lower than their top ratings for Obama offered for education and foreign affairs in general.

World Opinion of U.S. Improved
Unfortunately for Obama, Americans do not rate foreign policy important as domestic policy. However, both Gallup and Pew polls show Americans believe the election of Obama has improved the country’s image abroad.

And, indeed, citizens throughout the world hold more positive views of the job performance of U.S. leadership. More than half (51%) of world citizens approve the leadership of the U.S., up from 34 percent in 2008. This is the first time approval was above 50 percent since measurements began in 2005. African citizens are the most positive about American leadership, with the most improvement since Obama’s election shown in Europe (28%).

There is, of course, considerable variation with the regions, for example, Muslim-majority countries provide substantially lower ratings and show more modest levels of improvement.

Data is drawn from the Gallup Global Leadership Project (see the full list of countries and sampling background information) and Gallup’s latest periodical approval report.

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