Chart: Foreign Policy Matters More to Presidential Approval Ratings

A surprising find from Nate Silver

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While there's been some debate about whether Osama bin Laden's capture will have long term effects on the president's approval rating, which is up 9 points to 56 percent in a new poll, Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight has made two charts showing how ratings for foreign policy in past Gallup Polls correlated to a president's overall approval rating. While the conventional wisdom is that voters are more concerned with economic issues than what goes on overseas, he finds that the public's perception of a president's actions on foreign policy has a larger statistical relationship to their overall approval rating than handling the economy. Look at the chart above and you can see that both are clearly correlated, but "if you place the two variables into a regression equation, it finds that foreign affairs is the more important component," Silver writes.

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