- The Washington Times - Monday, March 8, 2010

A majority of Americans say the United States is less respected in the world than it was two years ago and think President Obama and other Democrats fall short of Republicans on the issue of national security, a new poll finds.

The Democracy Corps-Third Way survey released Monday finds that by a 10-point margin — 51 percent to 41 percent — Americans think the standing of the U.S. dropped during the first 13 months of Mr. Obama’s presidency.

“This is surprising, given the global acclaim and Nobel peace prize that flowed to the new president after he took office,” said pollsters for the liberal-leaning organizations.

On the national security front, a massive gap has emerged, with 50 percent of likely voters saying Republicans would likely do a better job than Democrats, a 14-point swing since May. Thirty-three percent favored Democrats.

“The erosion since May is especially strong among women, and among independents, who now favor Republicans on this question by a 56 to 20 percent margin,” the pollsters said in their findings.

A May 2009 survey by the pollsters found the public saw the Democratic and Republican parties as equally able to handle national security (41 percent trusted Democrats more, and 43 percent trusted Republicans more.) On conducting the war on terrorism, the two parties were tied at 41 percent.

The Democrats’ gap on national security has widened on several other fronts:

• “Keeping America safe”: Democrats now trail by 13 points (34 percent to 47 percent.) The gap was just 5 points in July 2008.

• “Ensuring a strong military”: Democrats trail by 31 points (27 percent to 58 percent.)

• “Making America safer from nuclear threats”: Democrats trail by 11 points (34 percent to 45 percent,) “despite the president’s strong actions and speeches on steps to reduce nuclear dangers,” the pollsters said.

The poll, conducted late last month, found “the administration’s response to the Christmas Day terrorist attempt has contributed to the erosion.”

“While public polling showed that initial approval of Obama’s response was above 50 percent, two months of Republican criticism have taken a toll. Now a narrow 46 to 42 percent plurality of likely voters say they feel less confident about the administration’s handling of national security because of how it responded to the incident,” the pollsters said.

In addition, the detention of terrorist suspects and the Obama proposal to prosecute suspects in civil trials in New York City, which was later abandoned, also have taken a toll on the president’s approval ratings.

“Whereas a majority of the public approves of the job President Obama is doing in most aspects of national security, a 51 to 44 percent majority of likely voters disapproves of his efforts on the prosecution and interrogation of terrorism suspects,” the pollsters found.

Democracy Corps calls itself an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to making the government of the United States more responsive to the American people.” It was founded in 1999 by former Clinton adviser James Carville and Stanley Greenberg, a leading Democratic pollster.

Third Way calls itself “the leading moderate think-tank of the progressive movement.”

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