Trump’s Handling Of Baghdadi Raid Gets Positive Marks, Changes Few Minds About Him

President Trump gets positive ratings for his handling of the military raid during which Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi died, a new HuffPost/YouGov poll finds, but it’s done little to alter broader public perceptions of the president or his approach to foreign policy.

Baghdadi detonated a suicide vest as U.S. special forces closed in on him last week during an operation in northwest Syria. About half the public, 49%, approves of Trump’s handling of the raid, with just 26% disapproving, and the remainder unsure. 

A quarter of Americans say Trump deserves a great deal of credit for Baghdadi’s death, with just under half saying he deserves at least some credit. Another 37% say he deserves not much credit for the outcome, or not at all. (By contrast, in a 2011 telephone poll from Pew Research and The Washington Post, 35% of Americans said Barack Obama deserved a great deal of credit for the killing of Osama bin Laden, and about three-quarters that he deserved at least some.)

The reaction to Trump’s handling of the raid is significantly more positive than his overall job ratings. Generally speaking, Americans who opposed Trump in the last election tend to be more united and more fervently against him than those who supported him are in his favor.

Here, that’s reversed ― 87% of Trump voters approve of the raid, but only about half of Hillary Clinton voters disapprove. Twenty-two percent of Clinton voters approve, with the rest saying they weren’t sure how they felt. The partisan divides are clearer when it comes to how much credit Trump deserves: 61% of his voters say he deserves a great deal of credit, while only 4% of Clinton voters say the same.

More than 8 in 10 Americans say they had heard at least something about Baghdadi’s death, although fewer than half had heard a lot. Those who’d heard are about as likely to say they first found out about the news from the internet (39%) as they are to say they heard about it on TV (37%), with the rest finding out via radio, the newspaper, or a conversation with someone else. That highlights a considerable shift over the past eight years in how people get their news: when Osama bin Laden was killed, about 6 in 10 found out via TV, according to Pew’s survey.

About 7 in 10 Americans say that ISIS poses at least a somewhat serious threat to the U.S. About two-thirds say that ISIS has not been completely defeated, with just 12% believing it has. The public gives Trump narrowly positive marks for his handling of ISIS  (45% approve, 39% disapprove).

But the president continues to fare worse on broader-scope questions about his performance, with the public close to split on his handling of terrorism (44% approve, 42% disapprove) and negative on his handling of foreign policy (40% approve, 46% disapprove). Americans are also evenly split on whether he is a strong or a weak leader. 

Those numbers suggest that the raid didn’t do much to shift overall views of the president. Trump’s numbers on foreign policy might have marginal ticked up from a HuffPost/YouGov poll earlier this month, when 37% approved of his foreign policy, but the difference is slight enough to be well within the realm of sampling error. YouGov/Economist polling also found almost no change in concerns about ISIS or perceptions of its strength. Trump’s job approval has, if anything, nudged slightly downward within the past month as talk of his possible impeachment drags on, although his ratings remain overwhelmingly stable.

A new Washington Post/ABC News poll offers similar findings to the HuffPost/YouGov survey. “A majority of Americans say President Trump deserves credit for the death of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, although this past weekend’s successful raid has failed to improve ratings for Trump’s strength as a leader,” WashPost’s Scott Clement and Emily Guskin wrote Thursday.” 

Use the widget below to further explore the results of the HuffPost/YouGov survey, using the menu at the top to select survey questions and the buttons at the bottom to filter the data by subgroups:

The HuffPost/YouGov poll consisted of 1,000 completed interviews conducted Oct. 28-29 among U.S. adults, using a sample selected from YouGov’s opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population.

HuffPost has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls. You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov’s nationally representative opinion polling. More details on the polls’ methodology are available here.

Most surveys report a margin of error that represents some but not all potential survey errors. YouGov’s reports include a model-based margin of error, which rests on a specific set of statistical assumptions about the selected sample rather than the standard methodology for random probability sampling. If these assumptions are wrong, the model-based margin of error may also be inaccurate. Click here for a more detailed explanation of the model-based margin of error.