WASHINGTON — US President Barack Obama has overwhelming support from American voters for his use of drone strikes against terror suspects and his planned troop drawdown in Afghanistan, a poll found Wednesday.
Obama, who signed off on the US special forces raid which killed Osama bin Laden last year, also enjoys a wide edge over his likely Republican election foe Mitt Romney on national security and foreign policy, the poll showed.
Eighty-three percent of those asked in the Washington Post/ABC News survey said they backed Obama’s use of unmanned drone aircraft against terror suspects, which have caused disquiet among some civil liberties groups.
The president spoke publicly about the drone strikes for the first time in a Google+ and YouTube interview last month, and has presided over such attacks against extremists in Pakistan, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
Seventy-eight percent of those asked approved of Obama’s plans to draw down troops in Afghanistan, despite fierce criticism of the president’s strategy from Republican presidential candidates, including Romney.
Voters were also asked whether they approved of the decision to keep the Guantanamo Bay war on terror detention facility in Cuba open and 70 percent approved.
Obama vowed to close the camp, which he said was a recruiting tool for terrorists, shortly after taking office in 2009, but due to congressional opposition and complications in dispersing inmates has been unable to do so.
The survey contained the latest evidence that Obama’s conduct as US commander-in-chief has wiped out the traditional edge Republicans have had over Democrats in national security policy.
The findings will likely complicate the efforts of Republican candidates to portray Obama, who last year kept his promise to get US troops home from Iraq, as feckless on national security.
The poll showed that Obama led Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, by 56 percent to 36 percent when respondents were asked who they trusted to combat terrorism.
Respondents also trusted him more on international affairs by a 56 to 37 percent margin.
In previously released findings, the poll found that 50 percent of Americans approved of Obama’s job performance the most since early last year.
Overall, Obama led Romney by 51 to 45 percent among registered voters, pulling out a lead based on improving economic sentiment which coincided with a drop in unemployment to 8.3 percent in January.