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Clinton Enters Kosovo Crisis With Solid Job Approval and Policy Ratings

Clinton Enters Kosovo Crisis With Solid Job Approval and Policy Ratings

U.S. Public Gives Clinton High Marks for His Foreign Policy

by Mark Gillespie

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

Even after a year of discord at home, U.S. President Bill Clinton enjoys solid public support both for the job he is doing as president, and for his foreign policy, as NATO troops launch air strikes on Yugoslavia. In a Gallup poll taken the weekend before the start of the NATO air strikes, 64% approved of the job he is doing as president, and 60% of those polled approved of Mr. Clinton's foreign policy. Gallup poll trends show a slight drop in his foreign policy rating from January, when it peaked at 64%, but the 60% number is among the highest of the Clinton Administration.

Historically, Mr. Clinton's foreign policy ratings have been rising since October, 1995, when he committed U.S. troops to serve in the Bosnian peacekeeping force and his foreign policy approval rating was just 37%. While that rating has taken a dip occasionally since then, it has consistently risen to its present-day level.

Another measure of Mr. Clinton's support in the foreign policy arena comes from Gallup studies conducted for the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations. In these studies, Mr. Clinton and the other post-World War II presidents were rated on the effectiveness of their foreign policy.

In the 1994 Chicago Council study, only 53% of Americans considered Mr. Clinton's foreign policy successful, compared to 75% for George Bush, 68% for Ronald Reagan, and 69% for John F. Kennedy. However, in the recently released 1998 study, Mr. Clinton's rating jumped to 77%, just behind George Bush (78%) and ahead of all other post-World War II presidents.

The 1998 study provides an additional measure of the Clinton Administration's apparent success in foreign policy. Fifty-five percent of Americans rated the Clinton Administration's overall foreign policy efforts as excellent or good, while 40% termed them fair or poor. In the 1990 Chicago Council study (taken before the Persian Gulf war), 45% ranked the Bush Administration's foreign policy as excellent or good, while 50% termed it fair or poor. Finally, in the 1986 Chicago Council study, 53% of Americans ranked the Reagan Administration's foreign policy efforts as excellent or good, compared to 43% who ranked them fair or poor.

Clinton also continues to enjoy high marks on Gallup's overall job approval measure. This past weekend's 64% is consistent with a trend which has seen the American public give Clinton job approval ratings in the 60% range for the last fourteen months, despite the impeachment crisis which dominated his administration from January, 1998 to February of this year.

For results based on the survey conducted March 19-21, 1999 (N=1,018) the margin of error is ±3 percentage points.

Now thinking about some issues, do you approve or disapprove of the way Bill Clinton is handling [ROTATE A-B]? How about...foreign affairs?

  Approve Disapprove No opinion
1999
99 Mar 19-21 60% 30% 10%
99 Jan 15-17 64 32 4
1998
98 Jul 7-8 56 34 10
98 Jun 22-23 53 36 11
98 Jun 5-7 57 36 7
98 Apr 17-19 63 31 6
98 Jan 25-26 62 29 9
98 Jan 24-25 58 32 10
98 Jan 23-24 57 34 9

The results of the following questions are based on the survey conducted for the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations, October 7-25, 1998 (N=1,492); the margin of error is ±2.6 percentage points.

Do you feel that the following U.S. Presidents have been very successful, somewhat successful, somewhat unsuccessful or very unsuccessful in the conduct of foreign policy?

1994 Survey
Total Sample

  Very success-
ful
Some-
what success-
ful
Some-
what un-
success-
ful
Very un-
success-
ful
Don't Know/
Refused
Presidents
John F. Kennedy 32% 37% 7% 3% 21%
Richard Nixon 30 31 13 9 17
Harry Truman 26 26 3 3 42
Dwight Eisenhower 25 30 5 2 38
Ronald Reagan 23 45 17 10 5
George Bush 21 54 15 6 4
Jimmy Carter 17 40 22 11 10
Bill Clinton 9 44 23 19 5
Lyndon Johnson 6 27 22 14 31
Gerald Ford 4 32 24 8 32

1998 Survey
Total Sample

  Very success-
ful
Some-
what success-
ful
Some-
what un-
success-
ful
Very un-
success-
ful
Don't Know/
Refused
Presidents
John F. Kennedy 33% 32% 6% 3% 26%
Richard Nixon 24 30 13 8 25
Harry Truman 26 24 4 1 45
Dwight Eisenhower 25 29 4 2 40
Ronald Reagan 32 41 11 7 9
George Bush 29 49 10 4 8
Jimmy Carter 22 40 14 7 17
Bill Clinton 35 42 11 8 4
Lyndon Johnson 9 29 16 12 34
Gerald Ford 8 39 14 6 33

How do you rate the Clinton administration's handling of the following problems? Would you say the administration's handling of (READ AND ROTATE a-m) has been excellent, good, fair, or poor?
Note: 1986 trend date measures the Reagan administration and 1990 trend data measures the Bush administration.

Overall Foreign Policy
Total Sample

  Excellent Good Fair Poor Don't Know/
Refused
Year
1986 12% 41% 32% 11% 4%
1990 7 38 36 14 5
1994 3 28 36 27 6
1998 15 40 31 9 5
Change in % pts. 1994-1998 +12 +12 -5 -18 -1

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Gallup https://news.gallup.com/poll/3982/clinton-enters-kosovo-crisis-solid-job-approval-policy-ratings.aspx
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