3/19: Voters’ Expectations Tempered for Obama’s Middle East Trip

McClatchy/Marist National Poll

What do U.S. registered voters think will come of President Barack Obama’s trip to the Middle East?

President Barack Obama


About two-thirds of voters — 66% — don’t think it will make much difference in easing the tensions in the region.  19% believe the president’s trip will increase tensions in the area while 15% say the visit will decrease them.

Click Here for Complete March 19, 2013 USA McClatchy-Marist Poll Release and Tables

“Voters are not optimistic that the president’s trip will be a productive one,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.  “But, such low expectations present an opportunity for President Obama to make strides both abroad and in voters’ views of his standing internationally.”

But, will Mr. Obama’s presence help jump-start negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians?  65% of voters nationally do not think his trip will help restart peace talks.  27%, however, believe his visit will, and 3% say it will make no difference in the process.  Six percent are unsure.

While 80% of Republicans and 70% of independent voters do not think President Obama’s visit to the Middle East will restart peace talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians, Democrats divide.  47% of Democrats do not think it will help restart talks while 43% believe the trip will.

Table: Impact of President Obama’s Trip to the Middle East on Tension in the Region

Table: Impact of President Obama’s Trip to the Middle East on Peace Talks

Obama’s Handling of Foreign Policy Receives Mixed Reviews…Lowest Point in Two Years

There has been a decline in the proportion of registered voters nationally who approve of how President Barack Obama is dealing with foreign policy.  Registered voters divide with 46% reporting they approve of his handling of the issue and 47% saying they disapprove.  Eight percent are unsure.  When McClatchy-Marist last reported this question in December 2012, a slim majority of voters — 51% — approved of how the president was dealing with foreign policy.  42% disapproved, and 7% were unsure.

The president’s current approval rating is the lowest he’s received on this issue since April 2011.  At that time, 46% gave the president a thumbs-up on foreign policy.  48% disapproved, and 6% were unsure.

Table: Handling Foreign Policy

Table: Handling Foreign Policy Over Time

Seven in Ten View Iran as Imminent Nuclear Threat

70% of registered voters think Iran is close to becoming a nuclear threat.  This includes 31% who believe the nation is very close and 39% who believe it is close.  18% don’t perceive the country as an imminent nuclear danger while 6% don’t think it is a threat at all.  Six percent are unsure.

Republicans — 84% — are most likely to think Iran is on the cusp of becoming a nuclear threat.  More than seven in ten independent voters — 72% — agree.  Among Democrats, 59% have this view.

Table: Iran as a Nuclear Threat

How the Survey was Conducted

Nature of the Sample