The headline finding in the Fox News poll: For the first time since Obama took office five years ago, voter approval of his job performance dropped below 40 percent. Thirty-eight percent of respondents approved, 54 percent disapproved.
The previous lowest rating for the president in a Fox News poll was 40 percent, last November, while the best rating was just days after his inauguration in January 2009 – 65 percent.
The poll was conducted on March 2-4, at a time when the Ukraine crisis and Russian intervention in Crimea continue to dominate headlines, and with many conservative voices questioning the administration’s handling of this and other foreign policy challenges.
Asked whether Obama has mostly succeeded or mostly failed at improving America’s international image, 59 percent of respondents said he had mostly failed while 33 percent said he had mostly succeeded.
Broken down by political affiliation, Republicans were unsurprisingly far less supportive of the president’s record, with 89 percent saying he had mostly failed and just six percent saying he had mostly succeeded. Democrats predictably swung the other way, although more than a quarter (27 percent) said Obama had mostly failed, while 62 percent said he had mostly succeeded.
Also of note was the response from those identifying themselves as independents: 68 percent said Obama had mostly failed at improving the U.S. image abroad, compared to 21 percent who said he had mostly succeeded.
Compared to the 26-point margin between failed and succeeded in the new poll, when the same question was asked in October 2012 the margin was just four points (44 points to 48), and when asked in June 2012 those numbers were switched, with 48 percent saying Obama had mostly succeeded at improving America’s image and 44 percent saying he had mostly failed.
Improving America’s image around the world was a key pledge during Obama’s first election campaign, and one which his administration and supporters maintains has been met – and critics insist has not.
The global image finding in the poll of American voters mirrors a trend found in Gallup international surveys, which have tracked a steady decline in worldwide approval of U.S. leadership during the Obama presidency – from 49 percent in 2009, to 47 percent in 2010, 46 percent in 2001, and 41 percent in 2012.
Political affiliation breakdown showed a similar pattern to the global image question, with more than a quarter of Democratic respondents again disapproving, together with a sizeable majority of independents:
--Republicans: 87 percent disapproved/8 percent approved
--Democrats: 28 percent disapproved/59 percent approved
--Independents: 60 percent disapproved/26 percent approved
On the foreign policy question, the Fox News poll delivered a similar pattern to that seen in NBC/Wall Street Journal polls. In the most recent one looking at Obama’s handling of foreign policy, last December, registered voters gave Obama a 44 percent approval rating – the second lowest rating across 24 NBC/WSJ polls that have tracked the issue since 2009. (Only August 2013, 41 percent, was lower.)
The Fox News poll was conducted under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research, a Democratic polling company and Shaw & Company, a Republican polling firm, and carries a plus or minus three percentage points margin of error for the full sample.