As President Obama issues his new national security strategy, a new Democracy Corps-Third Way survey shows the president continues to earn stronger marks on national security than on the economy or on his overall approval. Moreover, there are signs the president’s recent efforts to address nuclear dangers and terrorism have improved the public’s trust in Democrats on these issues, relative to the Republicans. Since our last joint survey in February, Democrats also slightly narrow the gap with Republicans on national security generally.
Yet the public’s overall confidence in the administration on national security, in absolute terms, edges down since our last survey on these issues in February. Several factors may be at play, including continuing violence in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Times Square bombing attempt, concerns about the impact of America’s economy on its standing abroad, and the continuing downdraft from the difficult political environment for Democrats. Amid these pressures, the new survey – the second in a series of jointly conducted, in-depth analyses of national security attitudes by Democracy Corps and Third Way – finds continuing opportunities for Democrats and progressives to strengthen their messaging on national security. The public is relatively cool to a range of messages Republicans are currently using on these issues. By contrast, the public responds very strongly when Democrats stress key aspects of their record and vision on national security.