President Barack Obama gestures during his speaech to Turkish paliament on Monday, April 6, 2009, at Cankaya Palace in Ankara, Turkey. (CBS)
As President Obama concludes his well-publicized trip to Europe, Americans are more positive about the respect accorded to a U.S. president than they have been in years, according to a new CBS News/New York Times poll.
Sixty-seven percent say world leaders respect Mr. Obama, while 18 percent say they do not respect the president. That's a sharp contrast to the response when this question was asked about Mr. Obama's predecessor, George W. Bush, in July 2006: Just 30 percent then said the president is respected by the leaders of other countries.
Mr. Obama's overall approval rating, meanwhile, has hit a new high of 66 percent, up from 64 percent last month. His disapproval rating stands at 24 percent. Nearly all Democrats and most independents approve of the way the president is handling his job, while only 31 percent of Republicans approve.
While Americans approve of the president and believe he is respected worldwide, they do not believe the U.S. is respected by other countries in general. More than half of those surveyed - 52 percent - think the United States is not respected around the world today. Thirty-six percent say the country is respected around the world.
Still, Americans are more positive about perceptions of their country than they were in July 2007, when just 24 percent said the U.S. is respected around the world and 71 percent said it is not.
The U.S. And World Economy
Most Americans - 60 percent - agree with the argument articulated by the president at the G20 summit last week that the United States needs to work with other countries to fix the problems facing the global economy in order to fix the economic problems back home.
Thirty-seven percent disagree with the argument that the United States should be working with other countries to fix its economy. (Click here for poll data on Americans' views on trade with other countries.)
Americans remain concerned that the United States may lose its position as the world's economic leader. Nearly eight in 10 are at least somewhat concerned, including 40 percent who are very concerned.
Still, the percentage of Americans who are very concerned is down 10 points from last July.
Approval Of The President And The Country's Direction
Fifty-nine percent approve of his handling of foreign policy, and an identical percentage approve of his handling of Iraq; 58 percent approve of his handling of Afghanistan, while 56 percent approve of his handling of the economy.
Approval of the president coincides with a growing optimism about the direction in which the country is headed. Although a slight majority still thinks the country is on the wrong track, the percentage that thinks the country is now headed in the right direction has been growing steadily since Mr. Obama took office.
Thirty-nine percent now think the country is headed in the right direction, up four points from last month and 32 points from the all-time low of seven percent reached last October. Fifty-three percent say the country is on the wrong track, down from 89 percent in October.
First Lady Michelle Obama continues to be popular with many Americans. Fifty-percent view her favorably, while just 5 percent view her unfavorably.
Afghanistan And Iraq:
In December 2001, following the U.S. invasion there, 93 percent of Americans thought the war there was going well. In March 2003, the numbers had declined somewhat, but 76 percent still thought the war was going well.
Now, however, only 36 percent of Americans think the war in Afghanistan is going well, and most (52 percent) think it is going badly.
Americans are divided as to whether or not the U.S. should send more troops to Afghanistan, something Mr. Obama has announced he plans to do. Thirty-nine percent of Americans think U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan should be increased, but 33 percent think they should be decreased - up from 24 percent in February.
Eighteen percent say U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan should remain the same.
Those who think things are going badly in Afghanistan are divided about what should be done: 40 percent say troop levels should be increased, while 38 percent say they should be decreased.
Americans are far more optimistic about the situation in Iraq than they are the war in Afghanistan. Sixty-two percent say things are going well there, up from 22 percent in June 2007. Thirty percent say things in Iraq are going badly.
More findings from the poll:
- Almost three-quarters of Americans think it is a good idea to raise taxes on people making more than $250,000 per year. In fact, two-thirds of Americans think the tax code should be changed so that middle-class Americans pay less than they do now and "upper income" people pay more. (Read more here.)
- Fewer than half support the Obama administration's recent plans for either the auto or banking industries - though there is more support for the administration’s proposals for automakers.
(Read more here.)
- Fifty-seven percent of Americans say they are willing to pay higher taxes in order to provide all Americans with health care coverage. While seventy three percent of Democrats favor a tax increase to fund coverage, only 29 percent of Republicans back such a move. (Read more here.)
- Some critics have suggested President Obama is trying to accomplish too much too soon, but 55 percent of Americans think he is trying to accomplish the right amount. More do say the president is trying to accomplish too much (38 percent) than say too little (4 percent).
This poll was conducted among a random sample of 998 adults nationwide, interviewed by telephone April 1-5, 2009. Phone numbers were dialed from RDD samples of both standard land-lines and cell phones. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus three percentage points. The error for subgroups is higher.
This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.