Rating Obama on terrorism
A new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds President Obama's handling of the threat of terrorism continues to be a strong point, but on one of his most high profile initiatives - closing the military prison at Guantanamo Bay - support has fallen off sharply.
After taking the oath of office one year ago today, Obama said "we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals," and pledged to defeat "those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents."
One year later, a majority of Americans approve of the way Obama is handling the threat of terrorism and his response to last month's attempted terrorist bombing of a plane bound for Detroit. But 56 percent, a new high, disapprove of Obama's decision to close the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, one of his first actions as president. About four in 10 (39 percent) approve of it.
The souring of views on plan to shutter Guantanamo comes chiefly among three groups: seniors, political independents and whites. Among seniors, disapproval of closing the prison has grown by more than 20 points since June to 70 percent; among independents (58 percent disapprove, up seven points) and whites (62 percent disapprove, up eight points) the shift has been less dramatic.
Overall, the new poll finds the share who believe the U.S. campaign against terrorism is going well has reached a new low (51 percent) and under half give the nation positive marks on breaking up the al Qaeda network (32 percent), reorganizing government agencies to fight terrorism (44 percent) and improving intelligence gathering and coordination (47 percent).
The poll marks the first time in the Obama presidency that Post-ABC polling has measured public assessments of the campaign against terrorism, and there has been a corresponding switch in partisan views. Democrats have moved from a near-even split in September 2008 to a positive one, with 66 percent saying it's going well to 32 percent not well. Among Republicans, the share saying things are going well has dropped more than 40 percentage points since 2008 (from 87 percent to 41 percent).
Looking specifically at Obama's handling of the issue, a majority of all adults say Obama's administration is doing as well (48 percent) or better than (30 percent) the Bush administration at handling intelligence reports about the threat of terrorism. One in five (20 percent) believe he is doing worse. More than six in 10 (62 percent) approve of his handling of the attempted terrorist bombing last month. That subject, the focus of a congressional hearing today, garners Obama his highest approval rating among Republicans (45 percent) or independents (56 percent).
Complete data from this poll available here.
January 20, 2010; 5:53 PM ET
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