Poll: Obama hits new low on handling of Iraq

A majority disapproves of President Obama’s handling of the situation in Iraq, according to a new poll, marking a new low on the signature issue that helped propel Obama to the White House.

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Some 52 percent of respondents give Obama negative marks for his handling of Iraq, according to polling from The Washington Post and ABC News. While 42 percent approve overall, just 13 percent of Republicans and four in 10 independents say they like the president’s approach amid deepening sectarian violence.

That said, the public remains split on what the president should do in response. While 45 percent of Americans support air strikes against the growing Sunni insurgency that has captured wide swaths of northern Iraq, a virtually identical 46 percent say they oppose doing so.

Independents are actually the least likely to back air strikes, with just 41 percent saying that is their preferred outcome. By contrast, 58 percent of Republicans and 44 percent of Democrats say they support targeted military action. Nearly a third of Republicans “strongly” endorse the idea, while a third of independents and 27 percent of Democrats “stringy” oppose such a move.

Obama has said he will not authorize air strikes unless Shiite political leaders in Iraq can present a viable political path to make their government more inclusive.

The president has unequivocally ruled out a return of ground forces to Iraq, however, and the polling suggests the public endorses that view. According to the survey, just 30 percent support returning boots on the ground, while 65 percent oppose.

Two-thirds of Democrats are opposed to such an action, with 42 percent “strongly opposed.” By contrast, 68 percent of independents reject a return of ground forces, with 47 percent believing so strongly. Six in 10 Republicans reject the idea.