The scale of the challenge for Mr. Obama is encapsulated in a new poll released by Fox News (conducted by both Democratic and Republican pollsters), which shows the president’s approval rating falling to 40 percent, the lowest level of support in his presidency (on par with December 2010). Obama’s disapproval stands at 54 percent, the highest negative rating he has received since taking office.
There is no doubt that Obama’s handling of the Syria crisis, and his handling of foreign policy in general, is helping drive the president’s unpopularity. According to the Fox poll, 68 percent of likely voters believe the US “should not be more involved in Syria,” with just 26 percent in favour of greater involvement. Only 36 percent agree that “President Obama (has) adequately explained for you the reasons US military action against Syria is necessary,” and just 27 percent “believe President Obama has clearly identified what the US goals and objectives would be in taking military action against Syria.” 55 percent of those surveyed disagree with the assertion that “the reasons for taking military action in Syria are stronger than they are in Iraq,” and 74 percent believe military action against Syria “is more likely to provoke additional violence in the Middle East.” Overall, 60 percent of voters disapprove of Obama’s handling of the Syria issue, compared to just 29 percent who back him.