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August 10, 2012

Public Opinion on National Security and Iran
Posted by The Editors

The following is a guest post from NSN intern Ezra Dunkle Polier.

As civil war rages on in Syria, countries around the world remain suspicious about the Iranian nuclear program, and Egypt struggles with a new government, maintaining a firm grasp on foreign policy issues will be critical for the next president. Recent polling data shows that, try as he might, Mitt Romney cannot seem to gain an edge on President Obama when it comes to foreign policy credentials.

Fox News poll from last week showed that President Obama continues to lead Mitt Romney on foreign policy and national security issues. When asked which candidate they trust to do a better job on handling foreign policy, 51% of respondents selected Obama, compared to just 38% for Romney. The same polling question from June yielded a similar response, with 49% of respondents preferring Obama’s handling of foreign policy to only 38% for Romney’s.

Most striking has been data showing domestic support for Obama’s policies toward Iran compared to Romney’s proposals. The same Fox News poll found 43% of people trusting Obama to do a better job on “stopping Iran from getting nuclear weapons,” while Romney only received 39% confidence in the same category. This difference comes despite Romney’s frequent criticism of Obama’s patience toward Iran and hawkish rhetoric in favor of potential military action. This poll comes on the heels of recent increase in sanctions against the Iranian regime, which 74% of respondents in an ABC News/Washington Post poll supported compared to only 41% who supported potential military action.

This public sentiment is nothing new, and demonstrates that Romney’s recent foreign policy trip to the U.K., Israel, and Poland did nothing to increase voter confidence in his national security credentials. In fact, according to recent polling data from Reuters/IPSOS, opinion of Obama’s foreign policy rose from 47-51%, while Romney’s remained at a static 35%.

When it comes to defending the United States from terrorism, Obama again holds a substantial lead. A survey from the beginning of July by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found that 50% of the respondents thought that President Obama would do the best job of defending the country from terrorist attacks, while Romney only received 38% of public support.

Though polling data only represents one measure by which to judge how the public feels about a candidate’s ability, it is a very clear one. During a time where stories of political conflict and civil war make front page headlines daily, it is paramount that we have a strong leader making decisions about our foreign policy strategies.


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