Pew Poll Finds Foreign Policy Problems for Obama

This Pew Research Center poll was conducted the weekend after the first debate, but the overview was just released today. It found that Mitt Romney has significantly cut into President Obama’s 15-point lead on foreign policy, and now trails by just four points:

The national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Oct. 4-7, 2012 among 1,511 adults, including 1,201 registered voters, finds that Barack Obama and Mitt Romney run about even on most foreign policy issues. On the question of who can do a better job making wise decisions about foreign policy, 47% of voters favor Obama and 43% Romney. This represents a substantial gain for Romney, who trailed Obama by 15 points on foreign policy issues in September.

Some of Obama’s slide may have to do with the Benghazi attack. While respondents were split how the administration handled the attack, a plurality of independents disapproved. The more closely respondents followed the news, the more likely they were to disagree with the administration’s response:

The administration gets lower ratings from those who followed news about investigations into the embassy attack very or fairly closely. Among this group, 36% approve of the administration’s handling of the situation and 52% disapprove.

Keep in mind, this was a poll of the general public, not registered or likely voters. Unless Obama’s argument about Benghazi in Tuesday’s debate resonated with voters, his numbers could be even lower with the actual electorate.

A growing majority of Americans also say it’s more important to take a firm stand against a nuclear Iran than to avoid a military conflict. In January, the “stand against” option led by nine points. In the latest poll, it leads by 21 points:

The public has long favored tough measures to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, and 56% now say it is more important to take a firm stand against Iran’s nuclear program, while 35% say it is more important to avoid a military conflict. In January, 50% favored taking a firm stand against Iran and 41% said it was more important to avoid a confrontation.

The Republican Party also continued to dominate the Democratic Party on the pro-Israel issue. A plurality of Republicans, 46 percent, say that the U.S. is not supportive enough of Israel, while only 9 percent of Democrats agree. One-quarter of Democrats say that the U.S. is actually too supportive of Israel.