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Foreign Policy will only carry Obama so far in California

by Christopher A. Guzman, published

Widespread political discontent with the powers in charge is nothing unique these days, being an almost hip, countrywide trend.

According to the most recent Gallup Poll, the country as a whole holds a subpar 48% job approval rating of President Obama.

As the administration stumbles in limbo and strategizes to win back the American people’s confidence, it will be a while before any significant and positive shift in Obama’s relationship with the public takes place (if any positive shift at all).

The president is even getting a chilly reception from California residents, who are traditionally and strongly supportive of the Democratic Party year after year.

According to a recent Field Poll conducted of a sampling of Californians, a similar disapproval trend seems to mirror national sentiment as a whole.

Coming off his wave of a 65% approval rating with Californians two months into office, the wave has now died down to 56% a year later. This particular approval rating of a sitting president is the lowest held by this state since President Jimmy Carter.

Among Obama’s weak policy areas are domestic issues, particularly the economy and healthcare.

Concerning the economy, 44% approve of his work while 50% disapprove. In the realm of healthcare, 53% of Californians disapprove of his job while 39% approve.

These are significant tidbits to consider given California’s reputation as one of the most liberal states of the union.

All, however, is not lost for Obama in the Golden State. The same Field poll demonstrates his ability to resonate with Californians via his foreign policy, both with his handling of Afghanistan and the War on Terror as a whole.

47% of Californians approve of the Afghan war versus 35% of disapproval. Californians expressed positive support for the War on Terror as well, even if it was by a slimmer margin. In this area, voters expressed approval by a 48% to 41% ratio.

From a foreign policy perspective, Obama’s standing remains in the positive with Californians. But, as the Field Poll implies, defense is not necessarily at the forefront of their minds at this moment.

The nation’s defense should never take a back seat. But if President Obama wants to gain and retain the confidence of Californians, he must also focus on providing a viable solution to the nation’s economic collapse.

With Governor Schwarzenegger incurring the perpetual wrath of voters for the state’s fiscal mess, President Obama risks the same downfall if he continues to adopt an economic policy that does not produce tangible results.

Voters are looking for a leader to set the tone for economic recovery. Perhaps the president will be able to provide an economic model that California can then adopt on a smaller scale. 

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