Before NATO summit Obama’s approval rating split on Afghanistan, international affairs

The public splits roughly down the middle on President Obama’s handling of the situation in Afghanistan and managing international affairs more broadly. Those middling ratings come from the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll, conducted just before Obama attended the NATO summit in Chicago

The outcome of that summit -- setting down a plan for ending the combat mission in Afghanistan -- may help to boost Obama’s future ratings in these areas. Public support for the war evaporated long ago, with only three in 10 saying the war was worth fighting in an April Post-ABC poll, a new low point in polling back to 2007.

The public now divides 47 to 44 percent on Obama’s handling of Afghanistan. There is a similar 48 to 46 percent split for his efforts on international affairs.

Obama’s ratings on Afghanistan spiked up to 60 percent last year in the wake of the successful mission to find Osama bin Laden. Since then his ratings for handling the war have fallen below a majority.

Sharp partisan markers fuel the the public divide. Democrats largely approve of the president on both measures. But Republicans disapprove by equally wide margins. Independents, as usual, straddle the middle.

The results of the NATO summit highlights the lingering strategic risk of whether withdrawing troops too soon will jeopardizing the security gains made throughout the country. The pull of public opinion is strong. In a March Post-ABC poll, 54 percent sided with withdrawing troops, even if the Afghan army was not yet sufficiently trained.

Explore full poll results.

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Peyton M. Craighill is polling manager for the Washington Post. Peyton reports and conducts national and regional news polls for the Washington Post, with a focus on politics, elections and other social and economic issues.


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