Disapproval of President Barack Obama is on the rise, a new CNN/ORC poll finds
About 51% now saying they disapprove of how he's handling the presidency
After a brief bump into positive territory, disapproval of President Barack Obama is on the rise amid dismal reviews of his work on several foreign policy issues and a sense that his policies would lead the country in the wrong direction.
According to a new CNN/ORC Poll, Obama’s disapproval rating has inched above 50%, with 51% now saying they disapprove of how he’s handling the presidency and 47% approving.
That’s a negative shift since late-July, when 49% approved and 47% disapproved. Majorities also disapprove of the way Obama is handling the economy and foreign affairs, as 52% say the policies Obama has proposed would move the country in the wrong direction.
Assessing Obama’s handling of several issues, the President fares worst on his handling of ISIS, the Islamic militant group that controls some areas of Iraq and Syria, with 62% disapproving of how the President is dealing with the group. Nearly as many, 60% say they disapprove of his management of the U.S. relationship with Iran.
On both issues, Obama earns notably higher disapproval ratings among Democrats than he does on other issues: 35% disapprove of his handling of ISIS, 30% Iran. His next highest disapproval rating among Democrats is 23% on his handling of foreign affairs generally.
Amid pessimism that either Obama or the GOP leadership in Congress could move the nation in the right direction, a majority say the country is already headed in the wrong one. Asked how things are going in the country today, 52% say badly, suggesting the negative shift that emerged in a May CNN/ORC poll has continued.
Increasing disapproval toward Obama is largely due to a worsening of already-bad ratings among Republicans. In July, 82% of Republicans disapproved, that rose to 89% in the new poll, while among Democrats and independents, his approval rating has held steady (85% of Democrats approve now, 84% in July, while 42% of independents approved in both polls).
Obama’s recently renewed push to close the U.S.-run detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, meets with majority opposition: 53% say the prison should remain open, while 44% think it should be closed with prisoners transferred to other facilities. That’s more support for closing the prison now compared with 2010, when 39% said it should be closed, but less than existed as Obama was about to take office in 2009, 51% backed closing the facility in January of that year.
As Republican contenders for the presidency raise the idea of sending ground troops to fight ISIS, the public leans slightly against the idea, with just more than half opposed. Overall, 47% favor sending U.S. ground troops into combat operations against ISIS forces in Iraq or Syria, 51% oppose it. Still, most think it is likely that it will ultimately happen, with 75% saying it is very or somewhat likely that U.S. ground troops will eventually enter combat operations against ISIS, up slightly from 70% saying so in May.
On both of these foreign affairs issues, opinion is sharply divided by party. On Guantanamo Bay, 60% of Democrats say it ought to be closed, while majorities of independents (53%) and Republicans (76%) disagree. And the partisan gap is growing on whether the U.S. should send ground troops to fight against ISIS. The share of Republicans in favor of sending ground troops into combat operations has grown from 56% in May to 68% now, while a steady majority of Democrats (68%) and independents (51%) oppose it.
Obama isn’t alone in weathering negative reviews, according to the poll. The Republican Party is viewed unfavorably by 54% – up from 49% in May – and 55% say the policies being proposed by GOP leaders in Congress would take the country in the wrong direction, just 39% that they would take the nation in the right direction.
The Democratic Party fares somewhat better, with the public about evenly split on whether they view the president’s party favorably (47%) or unfavorably (48%).
One positive note for the President: Obama has improved his approval rating in the poll for his handling of climate change, with 47% saying they approve now, up from 41% in May of this year. His biggest boosters here are liberals. Among that group, his approval rating has climbed 14 points since May to 69%.
The CNN/ORC Poll was conducted by telephone August 13-16 among a random national sample of 1,001 adults. The margin of sampling error for results among the full sample is plus or minus 3 percentage points; it is larger for subgroups.