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Percentage of Americans feeling isolationist now up to one-in-three, largest this century

February 22, 2011 | 10:44 am

U.S. soldiers clear roadside bombs in Afghanistan

Tim and Eric in Trouble

Of course, no president ever admits to reading the polls. They're all way too busy winning the future or something. With his family fresh back from their latest vacation, this one skiing in Vail, Colo., President Obama is off Tuesday to Cleveland. Lucky him in February.

But it's work-related. Actually, 2012-related, Ohio being what it is: crucial for both parties.

Obama will talk with small businessmen -- no, make that businessmen who run small companies -- about winning the future through innovation. While he's out of town, we can talk about a trio of polls, one having to do with his crew, one his party and the third a change in how Americans feel about the world and its problems.

First, it's a good thing that Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner and Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. ...

... serve at the pleasure of the president and not the people. Or they might have been tossed out last November with all those other Democrats.

A Rasmussen Reports survey finds that not quite one-in-four likely voters (24%) said they have some kind of approval of Geithner, while 40% said they have an unfavorable opinion of him after only 25 months of ineffective economic leadership.Obama's Treasury secretary Tim Geithner and Attorney General Eric Holder

As for the country's chief law enforcement officer, 25% said they regard him favorably. But that's down 10 points from the summer of 2009. Thirty-seven percent said they view him unfavorably.

Of course, their real job approval depends on only one opinion.

From Blue to Red

Though the president has ample time to restore his political standing in many American minds in the 623 remaining days before Nov. 6, 2012, the numbers are looking increasingly grim for his Democratic Party for next year.

As it happens, of the 33 U.S. Senate seats up for decisions, 22 are held by Democrats or those who caucus with them, while Republicans must defend only 10. For the Republicans, holding their own and gaining just a few would retire Harry Reid to former majority leader status, as the GOP did to Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the House last year.

A new Gallup survey finds Democratic affiliation dropping in virtually every state and the number of reliably Democratic states cut in half, from 30 in Obama's 2008 victory year to 14 in 2010, the year of the turnover in the House.

Veteran number-cruncher Ed Morrissey reads the tea leaves for 2012 and finds a Stairmaster struggle for Democrats.

Close the Windows and Lock the Door

A new Gallup poll has some predictable but intriguing results to monitor, looking ahead.

As usual, the poll finds a strong majority of Americans -- 66% to 32% -- desirous of the country playing a major role in solving international problems. But wait.

That support is down from 75% just two years ago.

Of even more interest, the percentage of Americans who take a more isolationist stance is quietly growing. Think minimal or no foreign involvements.

Still a minority of 32%, or about one-in-three. But that's the largest percentage in a decade. And it's up significantly from 23% two years ago.

Possible reasons: A stubbornly sour economy focusing more attention on issues closer to home, and the ongoing war in Afghanistan. Now in its tenth year with 100,000 U.S. troops serving there after Obama's second surge, Americans can easily track the costs: 33 Americans killed in the first 52 days of 2011 and 1,479 since 2001.

But allied military progress there is much harder to demonstrate.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Upper photo: U.S. troops clear IEDs in Afghanistan. Credit: Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times

Lower photo: Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithne, right, and Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. Credit: Getty Images