PRINCETON, NJ -- A new low of 26% of Americans approve of President Barack Obama's handling of the economy, down 11 percentage points since Gallup last measured it in mid-May and well below his previous low of 35% in November 2010.
Obama earns similarly low approval for his handling of the federal budget deficit (24%) and creating jobs (29%).
The president fares relatively better on foreign policy matters, with 53% of Americans approving of his handling of terrorism and roughly 4 in 10 approving on foreign affairs and the situation in Afghanistan. Also, 41% approve of Obama on education.
Obama's overall job approval rating in the Aug. 11-14 stand-alone Gallup poll is 41%, similar to the 39% and 41% approval ratings measured in Gallup Daily tracking over the same days.
Approval on Afghanistan Sinks 15 Points
Americans' approval of Obama on Afghanistan is down 15 points since mid-May, the most of any issue Gallup tracked during this period, though the resulting 38% approval rating is not the lowest he's seen on this issue. The decline follows a bounce to 53% after the killing of Osama bin Laden on May 1, and may partly reflect public reaction to the recent downing of a U.S. military helicopter in Afghanistan in which 30 American troops, many of them Navy SEALs, perished.
Obama also suffered a nine-point decline in his foreign affairs rating, to 42% from 51% in May. His current rating is a new low, but is not much lower than his prior low 44% and 45% foreign policy approval ratings in the second half of 2010; however, it is down nine points compared with the start of 2010.
Terrorism is the only issue on which Obama's current approval is higher than it was at the start of 2010, although it is down 10 points from 63% in May after bin Laden's death.
Democrats Alone Back Obama's Performance on the Issues
Obama earns scant support on the issues among Republicans, and does not do much better among independents. In contrast to Democrats' majority approval of Obama on all seven issues tested, fewer than half of independents approve of the president's handling of any of these.
President Obama's approval rating has dwindled in recent weeks to the point that it is barely hugging the 40% line. Three months earlier, it approached or exceeded 50%. History will remember this period for the messy political debate in Washington over the debt ceiling, followed by distress on Wall Street and tragedy in Afghanistan. How much each of these factors is responsible for the overall decline in Obama's approval rating is unclear. But Americans' unhappiness with each of them is reflected in recent declines in Obama's specific job ratings for the economy, the federal budget deficit, and various foreign policy measures, as well as in his markedly low rating for creating jobs.
Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Aug. 11-14, 2011, with a random sample of 1,008 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.
Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each sample includes a minimum quota of 400 cell phone respondents and 600 landline respondents per 1,000 national adults, with additional minimum quotas among landline respondents by region. Landline telephone numbers are chosen at random among listed telephone numbers. Cell phone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.
Samples are weighted by gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, adults in the household, and phone status (cell phone only/landline only/both, cell phone mostly, and having an unlisted landline number). Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2010 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older non-institutionalized population living in U.S. telephone households. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting and sample design.
In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.
For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit www.gallup.com.