AP-GfK Poll: Things to know about opinions on foreign policy

AP News
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Posted: Nov 05, 2015 3:19 AM
AP-GfK Poll: Things to know about opinions on foreign policy

WASHINGTON (AP) — Most Americans disapprove of President Barack Obama's handling of foreign affairs, along with his handling of the war in Afghanistan and the threat posed by the Islamic State group, according to a recent Associated Press-GfK poll.

Some things to know about Americans opinions on foreign policy from the new AP-GfK poll:

GROWING DISAPPROVAL ON ISLAMIC STATE

According to the new poll, Americans' disapproval of Obama's handling of the Islamic State group significantly worsened over the course of the last year. In the most recent poll, 38 percent approve and 61 percent disapprove. That's a downturn since a January AP-GfK poll found that 44 percent of Americans approved and 53 percent disapproved of his handling of the issue. In September 2014, Americans were evenly divided, 48 percent to 48 percent.

The new poll was conducted before Obama's recent announcement that the United States will send a small number of Special Operations troops into Syria to fight the group.

Americans' opinions of Obama's handling of the Islamic State now mirror their perceptions of how he is handling foreign affairs more generally. The poll shows that 58 percent of Americans disapprove of Obama's handling of the U.S. role in world affairs, while 40 percent approve of his handling of the issue. Obama's rating on the issue is slightly worse than his overall approval rating — 46 percent approve and 54 percent disapprove of his handling of his job as president.

PESSIMISM ON AFGHANISTAN

Americans are deeply pessimistic about the U.S. role in Afghanistan and the ultimate success of the U.S mission there, the poll shows.

Few Americans see it as likely that Afghanistan can maintain a stable, democratic government once the United States has withdrawn all of its troops. Just 2 percent think that's very likely, while another 18 percent say it's somewhat likely. More than three-quarters say that it's not too likely (47 percent) or not at all likely (30 percent).

Similarly, 71 percent say they think history will judge the war in Afghanistan as more of a failure than a success, while just 26 percent think history will judge it as more of a success.

Large majorities of Democrats (67 percent), Republicans (79 percent) and independents (65 percent) think the war will be judged as more of a failure than a success.

UNCERTAINTY ON NEW TIMETABLE

Americans are divided, and largely uncertain, on the wisdom of Obama's recently announced plan to delay the final stages of withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, leaving about 9,800 troops there in 2016 and about 5,500 in 2017. About a third favor and a third oppose the plan, while another third say they're neither in favor nor opposed.

Democrats are more likely to favor than oppose the plan, 39 percent to 27 percent, while Republicans are divided, 39 percent in favor to 36 percent opposed. Among independents, slightly more oppose than favor the plan, 34 percent to 24 percent.

Overall, 6 in 10 Americans disapprove of Obama's handling of the situation in Afghanistan.

MORE SEE ISLAMIC STATE AS IMPORTANT

Even though Americans are unhappy about how the war in Afghanistan has played out, it's not a top foreign policy issue on Americans' minds. Just 46 percent of Americans describe the situation in Afghanistan as a very or extremely important issue. That's up slightly since July of 2014, when just 40 percent of Americans in another AP-GfK poll described it as a very or extremely important issue.

But by comparison, 65 percent describe the threat posed by the Islamic State group as highly important issue and 57 percent say so of the U.S. role in world affairs more generally in the latest poll. Both issues fall well below the economy, rated as very or extremely important by 83 percent of Americans.

MIXED VIEWS ON PARTY TRUST

Americans are more likely to say they trust Republicans than Democrats to do a better job of handling protecting the country, the poll shows, 29 percent to 20 percent. Another 25 percent trust both equally and 24 percent trust neither. But on handling the U.S. image abroad, they're slightly more likely to trust Democrats than Republicans, 26 percent to 21 percent. Three in 10 trust neither and 2 in 10 trust both.

They're slightly more likely to trust Republicans than Democrats on handling the threat posed by the Islamic State group, 26 percent to 20 percent, and about evenly divided on which would better handle Afghanistan, 22 percent to 21 percent.

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The AP-GfK Poll of 1,027 adults was conducted online Oct. 15-19, using a sample drawn from GfK's probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.

Respondents were first selected randomly using telephone or mail survey methods, and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn't otherwise have access to the Internet were provided access at no cost to them.

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Online:

Poll results: http://ap-gfkpoll.com/