James M. Lindsay

The Water's Edge

Lindsay analyzes the politics shaping U.S. foreign policy and the sustainability of American power.

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Showing posts for "Public Opinion"

Can President Obama Persuade Americans to Support His Syria Policy?

by James M. Lindsay
President Barack Obama during the G20 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters). President Barack Obama during the G20 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters).

President Obama hopes to use his nationwide address tonight to persuade Americans of the necessity to punish Syria for using chemical weapons. But two polls out this morning suggest that it is a daunting task, and not one he is likely to accomplish. Read more »

Americans Still Doubt the Need for Military Strikes Against Syria

by James M. Lindsay
A protester holds up a sign against U.S. action in Syria as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Martin E. Dempsey, Secretary of State John Kerry, and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (Joshua Roberts/Courtesy Reuters). A protester holds up a sign against U.S. action in Syria as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Martin E. Dempsey, Secretary of State John Kerry, and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (Joshua Roberts/Courtesy Reuters).

Gallup is out with a new poll on what Americans think about military strikes against Syria.  Unlike the Pew Research Center and Washington Post/ABC News polls released on Tuesday, Gallup started questioning Americans after President Obama announced on Saturday that he was asking Congress to approve military action. But like the Pew and Post/ABC polls, Gallup found that far more Americans (51 percent) oppose military strikes than support them (36 percent). Read more »

Americans Doubt the Need for Military Strikes Against Syria

by James M. Lindsay
Opponents of U.S.-led intervention in Syria rally outside the White House (Jason Reed/Courtesy Reuters). Opponents of U.S.-led intervention in Syria rally outside the White House (Jason Reed/Courtesy Reuters).

Sometimes polls tell you what you already know. That’s the case with the polls that the Pew Research Center and the Washington Post and ABC News just released on Syria. Pew found that Americans oppose conducting military strikes against Syria by a margin of 48 percent to 29 percent. By a virtually identical margin (48 percent to 32 percent) they believe that President Obama has not explained clearly why the United States should attack Syria. Meanwhile, the Washington Post-ABC News poll found that Americans opposed military strikes by a margin of 59 percent to 36 percent. Read more »

Obama Asks Congress to Vote on Syria

by James M. Lindsay
President Barack Obama makes remarks on the situation in Syria at the Rose Garden of the White House (Mike Theiler/Courtesy Reuters). President Barack Obama makes remarks on the situation in Syria at the Rose Garden of the White House (Mike Theiler/Courtesy Reuters).

President Obama’s announcement that he is asking Congress to authorize the use of military force against Syria comes as welcome news to proponents of the view that presidents cannot unilaterally initiate the use of military force. Although Obama endorsed that view back in 2007 before he became president, he pointedly declined to ask Congress to authorize U.S. military action against Libya in 2011. Read more »

Which Countries Do Americans Like? Do Other Countries Like Us?

by James M. Lindsay
Media workers walk past a screen showing flags of the participating countries during the G20 summit in Seoul, South Korea (Jo Yon-Hak/Courtesy Reuters). Media workers walk past a screen showing flags of the participating countries during the G20 summit in Seoul, South Korea (Jo Yon-Hak/Courtesy Reuters).

Gallup is out with the results of a poll it did last month asking Americans whether they have favorable or unfavorable views about twenty-two other countries. Gallup has been asking this question every February for a dozen years, and the overall results have been consistent. Americans have a soft spot for fellow English-speaking countries, and they take a dim view of Middle Eastern countries. Read more »

How Do Obama’s First Term Job Approval Ratings Compare to Past Presidents?

by James M. Lindsay
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama wave to supporters during the inaugural parade in Washington on January 21, 2013 (Doug Mills/Courtesy Reuters). President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama wave to supporters during the inaugural parade in Washington on January 21, 2013 (Doug Mills/Courtesy Reuters).

Gallup released a report yesterday showing that Barack Obama averaged a 49.1 percent job approval rating over his first term. How does that compare with other post-World War II presidents? Not terribly well.  As the chart below shows, only Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter fared worse. Obama’s immediate predecessor, George W. Bush, averaged a 62.2 percent job approval rating over his first term. (That thirteen-point advantage compared to Obama owes in good part to the historic rally-‘round-the-flag bump that Bush enjoyed after September 11). Read more »

Americans Oppose Intervention in Syria

by James M. Lindsay
A damaged area of Syria is pictured after a car bomb near Damascus on December 13 (SANA/Courtesy Reuters). A damaged area of Syria is pictured after a car bomb near Damascus on December 13 (SANA/Courtesy Reuters).

The Pew Research Center is out with a new poll today on U.S. public attitudes toward Syria. The results are unambiguous: Americans want nothing to do with the civil war that has now killed almost 40,000 Syrians. More than six-in-ten respondents (63 percent) say that the United States does not have a responsibility to do something to end the fighting in Syria. A slightly higher number (65 percent) opposes even arming rebel groups in Syria. Read more »

The World Next Week: Hurricane Sandy Revives Climate Change Talk, Americans Vote for President, and China Appoints New Leaders

by James M. Lindsay
An American flag stands on top of the devastated Rockaway beach boardwalk in Queens after Hurricane Sandy (Shannon Stapleton/ Courtesy Reuters). An American flag stands on top of the devastated Rockaway beach boardwalk in Queens after Hurricane Sandy (Shannon Stapleton/ Courtesy Reuters).

The World Next Week podcast is up. Bob McMahon and I discussed the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy; next week’s presidential election; and China’s change in leadership. Read more »

Obama and Romney Set to Focus on the Middle East

by James M. Lindsay
Mitt Romney and Barack Obama point fingers during the second presidential debate. (Mike Segar/ courtesy Reuters) Mitt Romney and Barack Obama point fingers during the second presidential debate. (Mike Segar/ courtesy Reuters)

Barack Obama and Mitt Romney meet tonight in Boca Raton, Florida to debate foreign policy. Both campaigns see the third and final debate as their best opportunity to reach the public before Election Day. The two candidates will be speaking to voters who expect to hear affirmations of U.S. leadership but who are also skeptical of foreign entanglements in the midst of tough economic times and after more than a decade of war. Read more »

TWE Remembers: Five Memorable Foreign Policy Moments in Presidential Debates

by James M. Lindsay
John McCain and Barack Obama debate foreign policy at the University of Mississippi in 2008. (Jim Bourg/ courtesy Reuters) John McCain and Barack Obama debate foreign policy at the University of Mississippi in 2008. (Jim Bourg/ courtesy Reuters)

President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney meet tonight in Boca Raton, Florida to debate foreign policy. Both men hope that what they say will move voters in their direction. But that’s not always how debates go. Here are five memorable moments from past debates when presidents took on foreign policy. Read more »