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Quinnipiac: Putin, Obama Tied on Strength as Leader

Image: Quinnipiac: Putin, Obama Tied on Strength as Leader

By Sandy Fitzgerald   |   Wednesday, 02 Apr 2014 08:31 AM

American voters are more down on Obamacare than ever and have serious doubts about President Barack Obama's leadership on foreign issues like Russia's seizure of Crimea from Ukraine, according to a poll released Wednesday.

But voters are evenly divided on whether President Barack Obama or Russian President Vladimir Putin is the stronger leader, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll.

The poll of 1,578 registered voters nationwide revealed that voters seem  divided 42-42 percent on which president is more powerful.

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Among the key findings:
  • "American voters oppose the Affordable Care Act 55-41 percent, and 40 percent are less likely to vote for a candidate who supports Obamacare, while 27 percent are more likely, and 31 percent say it will not affect their vote.
  • Forty percent of voters say they'd vote for a Democrat for Congress this year, while 38 percent picked Republicans. Independents preferred Republicans, 35-27 percent. Congressional Democrats "continue to be viewed as the lesser of two evils," with a 30 percent approval rating. Republican approval is at 18 percent, Quinnipiac noted.
  • Voters split on which party should control the Senate. Democrats now control 55 of the 100 seats. Forty-six percent wanted Democrats to control the House — now run by Republicans — and 45 percent wanted continued GOP control.
  • "Immigration also is a possible pitfall for candidates, as 39 percent of voters say they are less likely to vote for a candidate who supports a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, while 29 percent are more likely, and 29 percent say it won’t make a difference in their vote.
  • "Raising the minimum wage is more popular, as 50 percent say they are more likely to vote for a candidate who supports raising the minimum wage, with 25 percent less likely, and 24 percent saying it won’t affect their vote."
Comparing Obama to Putin — arguably the most controversial foreign leader of the last few months — depended on which party Americans support. Among Republicans, 67 percent believe Putin is stronger than Obama, and among Democrats, 71 percent believe Obama is the stronger leader of the two.

Meanwhile, Americans are expressing concern and caution on how to handle Russia, said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll. Further, the situation has caused Obama's numbers to drop when it comes to how he handles foreign policy issues.

Obama's favorability numbers are up slightly, but still remain negative, especially when it comes to foreign policy.

Voters gave Obama a negative 39-55 percent score for how he handles foreign affairs, which was one of his lowest grades ever. His overall job approval went up slightly, though, but still remain negative at 42-50 percent, compared with a 40-54 percent job approval rating in a Jan. 22 survey.

The ongoing situation in Ukraine led to Obama's declining foreign policy numbers, as 80 percent of voters are "very concerned or somewhat concerned" that the standoff will lead to a larger regional conflict that includes U.S. military involvement.

According to the poll, voters gave Obama a 41-47 percent grade for how he's handled the Ukraine and Russia situation so far, with 45 percent saying his handling has been "about right," 36 percent saying "not tough enough" and 6 percent saying it has been "too tough."

But voters support, by a 69-21 percent margin, economic sanctions against Russia by the United States and European allies. Most of the voters polled, 54 percent, said the United States should limit its involvement, while 39 percent called for a "firm stand."

A majority of the voters, at 56 percent, believe the Ukraine situation could renew the Cold War.

But while only 24 percent of voters compared Putin's actions in Ukraine to Adolph Hitler's actions before the outbreak of World War II, 51 percent said the comparison is too strong.

Still, voters agreed, by an 80-5 percent margin, that Putin is not honest and trustworthy, but still believed, by a 57-29 percent margin, that he has strong leadership qualities. Further, by a 48-33 percent margin, voters believe Putin is mentally stable.

In comparison, voters were almost evenly divided, by a 49-48 percent margin, on whether Obama has strong leadership qualities.

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