A new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds that President Barack Obama’s approval rating a healthy 69 percent as he maintains solid support from his winning coalition — but the partisan divide is intensely sharp over the controversial release of Bush era interrogation memos that raise the issue of torture.
Barack Obama’s performance in the first 100 days of his presidency draws strong public approval in a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, but there is decidedly less support for his recent decision to release previously secret government memos on the interrogation of terrorism suspects, an initiative that reveals deep partisan fissures.
Overall, the public is about evenly divided on the questions of whether torture is justifiable in terrorism cases and whether there should be official inquiries into any past illegality involving the treatment of terrorism suspects. About half of all Americans, and 52 percent of independents, said there are circumstances in which the United States should consider employing torture against such suspects.
Barely more than half of all poll respondents back Obama’s April 16 decision to release the memos specifying how and when to employ specific interrogation techniques. A third “strongly oppose” that decision, about as many as are solidly behind it. Three-quarters of Democrats said they approve of the action, while 74 percent of Republicans are opposed; independents split 50 to 46 percent in favor of the decision.
The poll also finds:
*51 percent favor an investigation into Bush treatment of terror suspects and whether it violated laws, whilce 47 are against it. Once again a partisan divide: 7 out of 10 Democrats favor it; 7 out of 10 Republicans oppose it.
*Obama gets high marks on the issues of terrorism, and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
*He gets a 69 percent approval rating and is favored two to one over Congressional Republicans on his handling of the economy.
*He is at about 50 percent on the deficit and immigration and gets negative marks on how he has dealt with bailout-hungry automakers.
Keeping in mind that these numbers could rapidly head southward, the fact is that headed into his term’s second 100 days Obama is faring and wearing well with the American public. Look at these other indicators.
1. Pollster.com’s graph showing a composite of polls:
Note how his independent voter support is holding firm (and each party needs the independents):
2. Gallup’s daily tracking poll which shows his numbers have risen.
3. Real Clear Politics’ chart and graph showing Obama on the upswing.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.