4/21: Split Decision on Obama’s Handling of Situation in Libya

As unrest in Libya continues, President Barack Obama has said that Moammar Gadhafi faces greater pressure to step down.  But, when it comes to U.S. involvement in the region, do registered voters approve of how the president is handling the situation?


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Registered voters nationally divide.  46% disapprove, 44% approve, and one in ten — 10% — are unsure.

“President Obama is walking a fine line on U.S. involvement in Libya,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “In the short run, he has a lot of convincing to do.  Without greater support, in the long run, it’s hard to imagine people won’t increasingly question his policy in the region.”

Partisan politics are in play on this question.  More than six in ten Democratic voters — 63% — approve of how Mr. Obama is dealing with the issue while about two-thirds of Republican voters — 66% — disapprove.  Nearly half of independents — 48% — are dissatisfied with how the president is handling the situation while 42% approve.

Table: Obama’s Handling of the Situation in Libya

Clear Plan for U.S. Involvement in Libya?

Americans divide about whether or not President Obama has a clear idea about what he wants the United States to do in Libya.  47% do not think the president has a clear vision while 46% do.  Seven percent are unsure.

Here, too, there is a partisan split.  69% of Democrats believe President Obama knows what he wants the U.S. to do in Libya while the same proportion of Republicans — 69% — say the president’s vision is muddied.  A majority of independents — 53% — think the president does not have a clear idea about what he wants America’s role in Libya to be.

Do Americans, themselves, understand what the role of the United States is in Libya?  Nearly six in ten — 57% — do not while 42% believe they have a clear idea about what the objective is.  One percent is unsure.  Looking at party, 58% of independents say they do not have a clear idea about what the U.S. is trying to do in Libya.  Republicans and Democrats divide.  50% of Republicans don’t have a clear picture of the nation’s objective while 48% do.  Among Democrats, half — 50% — say they understand what America is trying to achieve in Libya while 46% do not.

Table: Obama’s Vision for U.S. Involvement in Libya
Table: Americans’ Understanding of U.S. Involvement in Libya

The Great Divide: Voters Rate Obama’s Handling of Foreign Policy

When it comes to how President Obama is handling foreign policy in general, registered voters also divide.  48% disapprove, and 46% approve.  Six percent are unsure.  There has been little change on this question since McClatchy-Marist last reported it in November.  At that time, 47% disapproved of how the president was tackling foreign policy while 44% approved.  Nine percent were unsure.

Table: Handling Foreign Policy
Table: Handling Foreign Policy Over Time

Trend graph: Obama's handling of foreign policy.

Click on the graph to enlarge the image.

McClatchy-Marist Poll Methodology