Why Obama's approval numbers are sliding

A new poll shows people disagree with President Obama's management of foreign policy issues and Islamic State.

Carolyn Kaster/AP
President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks in the White House on the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act in August.

More than half of Americans have said they disapprove of how President Obama is leading the country, in response to a new CNN/ORC poll released Friday.

While 47 percent say they approve of Obama’s policy decisions, 51 percent have responded with a disapproval rating. 

Obama’s approval numbers have crept downward since late July, when 49 percent gave a thumbs-up to the president and 47 percent did the opposite, reported CNN.

What’s changed?

More than half – 52 percent – say the president’s management of numerous issues, from the economy to Islamic State to foreign policy, are taking the country “in the wrong direction,” according to the results.

On Islamic State, for example – the biggest subject of disapproval identified by the survey – 62 percent respond negatively to Obama’s handling of the militant group.

Just slightly fewer, 60 percent, say they don’t approve of the way the president has coordinated ties with Iran, in large part likely due to the recently brokered nuclear deal that also has legislators divided.

Even those who have come to support the agreement have acknowledged its contentiousness.

On Thursday, Sen. Claire McCaskill, (D) of Missouri, became the latest to declare her support for the Iran nuclear pact, saying in a statement, "This deal isn't perfect," The Associated Press reported.

Obama’s calls to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba are also significantly unpopular.

Fifty-three percent say it should remain open, almost 10 percent more than those who say it should be closed with prisoners transferred elsewhere.

CNN makes this observation:

“That's more support for closing the prison now compared with 2010, when 39 percent said it should be closed, but less than existed as Obama was about to take office in 2009, 51 percent backed closing the facility in January of that year.”

Not surprisingly, Obama’s approval rating is sharply divided along party lines. The overwhelming proportion of Republicans who disapprove of Obama’s presidency jumped from 82 percent in July to 89 percent in the latest poll.

In contrast, 85 percent of Democrats still say they approve of the job Obama is doing, up 1 percent from July. The percentage of independents who say the same remains unchanged at 42 percent.

On the topics of Islamic State and Iran, however, the president receives “notably higher disapproval ratings among Democrats than he does on other issues,” reports CNN. “35 percent disapprove of his handling of ISIS, 30 percent Iran. His next highest disapproval rating among Democrats is 23 percent on his handling of foreign affairs generally.”

How do Americans see the country today? A majority of respondents answered pessimistically, with 52 percent saying the US is headed in the wrong direction. 

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