Obama Tops 50% On Something, a 2014 First!

WaPo’s Aaron Blake has the news:

Get ready to pop the champagne, White House. For the first time since January, President Obama is polling a 50 percent approval rating on an issue: his handling of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

That is not a typo: It has been eight months since Obama last cracked half the American public on any given issue — foreign policy or otherwise — in Washington Post/ABC News polling.

The newest WaPo-ABC poll shows 50 percent approve of Obama’s handling of the Islamic State, as compared to 44 percent who disapprove. That’s an improvement from August, when the question referenced only Iraq and not Syria, and 42 percent of Americans gave Obama a vote of confidence.

Blake goes on to point out that the relatively high approval rating Obama has earned on this issue is mainly attributable to relatively high support (with an emphasis on “relatively”) among self-identified Republicans, who break down 30/68. That’s less surprising when you know that Republicans strongly support the actions taken by Obama if he’s not credited with them; fully 80% of GOPers like the airstrikes in Syria.

But why the big gap among Republicans between support for what Obama is doing and “support for what Obama’s doing?” Blake offers one theory beyond simple partisanship:

Plenty of questions have been raised about the rise of the Islamic State and whether the administration missed the boat, and Obama’s decision to withdraw from Iraq continues to be a flash point given how quickly the Iraqi military lost ground to the Islamic State. Those two things, among others, could certainly color Republicans’ overall approval of Obama when it comes to the Islamic State.

Yeah, and some Republicans probably favor Ted Cruz’ ever-popular “kill ’em all and let God sort ’em out” approach, and a few may even share Rand Paul’s thinly veiled pro-Assad sentiments. But a Republican “base” that thinks a discarded Republican health care proposal is an imminent threat to the very existence of freedom and prosperity because it’s called “Obamacare” just isn’t going to be rational about this. Anything the Kenyan Secular Socialist does is wrong, even if you approve of every particular.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.