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Obama on the Issues

Public ratings of Pres. Barack Obama on the nation's top issues in the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll continue a pattern that has popped up in each of our polls since his inauguration in January: Obama's overall job approval is significantly higher than his ratings on individual issues.

One month in, his 68 percent job approval rating stood well above his 60 percent rating on the economy and 64 percent approval on filling his cabinet and other top administration positions. In March, readings on the economy (60 percent), federal budget deficit (52 percent) and international affairs (62 percent) were all below an overall approval rating of 66 percent. And 100 days in, Obama topped his 69 percent overall rating with 71 percent approval on handling the situation in Iraq, but ratings on the remaining 12 issues were lower than his overall approval.

The president's diplomatic efforts are the only ones that have consistently come close to his overall rating in these first months in office, perhaps on the strength of high expectations. In a December Post-ABC poll, 77 percent said that as president, Obama would be able to "improve America's image in the world." Since taking charge, his approval rating on handling "international affairs" has remained above 60 percent.

The trend is striking, but it is not necessarily unique. Looking back at Post-ABC polling conducted in the early months of the presidencies of George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, neither man consistently outpaced his approval rating on the domestic bellwethers of the economy, the budget or health care. But they did manage to fare well on international affairs broadly, and Clinton frequently topped his overall rating with approval of his handling of individual crises, such as the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia, Somalia and Haiti. Bush twice exceeded his overall approval rating with his handling of education as he began the push for the "No Child Left Behind" act.

Obama's marks may lag behind his overall approval, but that doesn't mean he's doing poorly. He scores majority approval on all but two of the issues tested in the new poll, and notches approval ratings of 50 percent or higher among political independents on all but one - the situation involving the big U.S. automakers. Among all adults, just over a quarter (26 percent) said they approve of Obama on each of the five issues about which they were asked (each respondent was asked about the economy, health care and a random selection of three of the remaining issues rather than the full list), 41 percent said that they approve of his handling on at least four of five issues tested.

Among those who approve of the way Obama is handling his job generally, 31 percent disapprove of his handling of the situation involving the Big Three automakers and 24 percent disapprove of the way he's managed the federal budget deficit. More than four in 10 who approve of his overall performance break ranks and disapprove of his handling of at least one issue.

Approval ratings on each of the issues tested, plus breakdowns by party are below.

Q. Do you approve or disapprove of the way Obama is handling [item]? (% approve)

                                 ---Party ID----
                           All   Dem   Rep   Ind
International affairs      61    82    21    67
Threat of terrorism        57    78    27    55
Economy                    56    81    23    54
Global warming             54    78    29    52
Health care                53    80    17    50
Situation with Iran        52    65    35    53
Federal budget deficit     48    70    14    50
Situation involving the  
   big U.S. automakers     45    67    19    39

By Jennifer Agiesta  |  June 23, 2009; 5:22 PM ET
Categories:  Crosstabs , Presidential Approval  
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Comments

These polls are so full of BS it is pathetic. They have all of the validity of the unemployment numbers. ABC, who is in Obama's pocket, polls 895 people and present it like it has credibility.

The real numbers will come in 2010. Hopefully sending all Spendocrats packing including Franks, Reid, Pelosi, Dodds and others. Anyone that rubber-stamped the bailout bill without reading also needs to go.

Posted by: Bubbette1 | June 23, 2009 6:33 PM | Report abuse

The numbers show that the country likes the man.
Much narrower majorities like the policies. The GOP problem is that making teh next election about any particular policy means that they will be standing against a majority -- even if they persuade people their way.

Posted by: F_L_Palmer | June 24, 2009 12:06 PM | Report abuse

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