November 10th, 2008
04:00 PM ET
6 years ago

Poll: Deep public pessimism confronts incoming administration

Obama and Bush met at the White house Monday.
Obama and Bush met at the White house Monday.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – As President-elect Obama visits the White House, a new national poll illustrates the daunting challenges he faces next year.

Only 16 percent of those questioned in a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Monday say things are going well in the country today. That's an all-time low. Eighty-three percent say things are going badly, which is an all-time high.

Watch: The public's mood is grim

"The challenge Obama faces has never been greater. No president has ever come to office during a time when the public's mood has been this low. In the 34 years that this question has been asked, the number who say things are going well has never fallen below 20 percent," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

The 83 percent saying things are going badly is "more than in 1992, when the first President Bush was ousted because of the economy, stupid. That's more than in 1980, when President Carter got fired after the malaise crisis. That's more than in 1975, after Watergate and the Nixon pardon," says CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider.

So far, Obama seems to be meeting the public's high expectations. Two-thirds of all Americans have a positive view of what Barack Obama has done since he was elected president and three-quarters think that Obama will do a good job as president.

"Obama has the support of virtually every African-American in the poll, but he also gets high marks from a solid majority of whites," says Holland.

But that optimism doesn't hide what appears to be concern that most people don't have a clear idea of what Obama would do to improve the economy. Six in ten say that they don't clearly know what Obama would do to improve the economic situation.

The all-time low on the public's mood may have something to do with another finding in the poll, that the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is the most unpopular president in the six decades since presidential approval ratings were first measured.

Seventy-six percent of those questioned in the survey released Monday disapprove of how George W. Bush is handling his job as president. That's an all-time high in CNN polling, or in Gallup polling dating back to World War II.

"No other president's disapproval rating has gone higher than 70 percent. Bush has managed to do that three times so far this year," said Holland. "That means that Bush is now more unpopular than Richard Nixon was when he resigned from office during Watergate with a 66 percent disapproval rating."

Prior to President Bush, the record holder for presidential disapproval was Harry Truman, with a 67 percent disapproval rating in January of 1952, his last full year in office.

As Obama visits the White House, 57 percent of those questioned think the transfer of presidential power will be relatively easy and free from tension, with 39 percent saying the transition will be difficult.

"A majority say that the transition from Bush to Obama will go smoothly, although nearly one in four predict a lot of tension between Bush aides and Obama aides in the next few weeks. That sentiment is highest among Democrats, but even among them, a majority believes that the transition will be relatively easy," Holland said.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll was conducted Thursday through Sunday with 1,246 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

soundoff (142 Responses)
  1. DAVE IN CA

    I LISTEN TO ALL THESE PEOPLE CRYING ABOUT HOW BAD IT IS NOW AND HOW BUSH FAILED ALL AND IS LOST BUT..... THIS LANDSLIDE DIDN'T START UNTIL GOOD OLE FREDDIE AND FANNIE WENT INTO THE TOILET AND HAD TO BE BAILED OUT. UNDER BARNEY FRANK AND CHRIS DODD AND THE WONDERFUL LEADERSHIP OF FRANKLIN RAINES ACCORDING TO NANCY PELOZI. WHEN THE DISCOVERY OF ALL THE HEINOUS ACTS OF THESE TWO GOVERNMENT COMPANIES UNDER THE DIRECT OVERSIGHT OF THESE IDIOTS LISTED ABOVE PRETTY MUCH IN 2 1/2 YEARS CREATED THE HOUSING BUBBLE WHICH BASICALLY CRIPPLED OUR COUNTRY AND NOW THAT WE HAVE BAILED OUT ALL OF THESE IDIOTS MR. FRANK DOES NOT FEEL THAT THE AMERICAN PEOPLE HAVE THE RIGHT TO KNOW WHICH BANKS ARE GETTING MONEY AND HOW IT IS BEING SPENT.. THE ELECTION OF A DEMOCRATIC GOVERNMENT WILL BE THE DOWN FALL OF THIS NATION. PERIOD

    November 10, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  2. Therealdeal

    Looks to me like Obama is showing President Bush how big of a dog he's getting for his alergic daughter when in the White House... Yo Obama, it's a no brainer – get a goldfish. Geez.

    November 10, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  3. Ilona Hussein Proud Canadian

    The above article seem to lead one to think that
    the public is pessimistic ABOUT THE INCOMING
    ADMINISTRATION?

    I agree that the BARACK ADMINISTRATION IS
    GOING TO BE FACED WITH THE ABSOLUTE
    WORSE SITUATION THAT ANY incoming
    PRESIDENT WAS EVER CONFRONTED WITH,
    but as long as the public is willing to throw
    their full support behind Barack, as long as
    they are realistic, and patient, BARACK AND
    HIS ADMINISTRATION WILL DO A GREAT JOB!

    Just remember folks, ROME WASN'T BUILT IN
    A DAY, and now that....

    YES YOU DID! YES YOU DID! YES YOU DID!

    Now it is once again............

    YES YOU CAN! YES YOU CAN! YES YOU CAN!

    CONGRATULATIONS Barack supporters............

    YOU CHOSE A WINNER............

    NOW GIVE HIM YOUR 100% SUPPORT!

    November 10, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  4. DAVE IN CA

    THE HOUSE AND THE SENATE HAVE THE WORST APPROVAL RATING AT 16% AND YET MOST OF THESE CROOKS GOT RE-ELECTED... GUESS WE HAVE ALL OF YOU TO THANK FOR THIS????

    November 10, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  5. former gop

    President Obama will have a very tough beginning due to Bush bringing out country to near ruin. But President Obama is brilliant and will arise to the challenge. I have zero doubt in him. Zero.

    November 10, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  6. retired patriot

    if you voted for change you will get.If you think your gonna get anything out of it you are in for a big surprise.
    the bush tax cuts will expire in 2010 on everyone,which means you will get a tax increase.this will be an instant replay of the clinton years.

    YOU ASKED AND YOU SHALL NOT RECEIVE

    November 10, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  7. Conservative James, Phoenix, AZ

    My, my, there are a lot of Limbaugh/Hannity/Coulter crybabies out there with full diapers. Please read the following slowly and carefully:

    Your candidate lost. The Democrats are in power. Barack Obama is our new president. The Republican Party is dead.

    Get over it.

    If you are really that scared, Mr. TruthHurts, Nyer, etc, then why do you continue to live here?

    November 10, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  8. meck

    WHICH "EVERYONE" OR "MAJORITY" PERSIMISTIC PEOPLE ARE YOU REFERING TO?? REPUBS??

    OBAMA WON BY OVER AND ABOVE 7 MILLION VOTES MAN.....WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT??

    LET HIM GET INTO OFFICE PEACEFULLY AND DO WHAT WE ELECTED HIM TO DO. I HAVE HAD ENOUGH OF YOUR NEGATIVE WRITING AND SEARCHING FOR MISTAKES BEFORE OBAMA EVEN TAKES OFFICE.

    SHAME ON YOU.

    November 10, 2008 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  9. Ken in Dallas

    DAVE,

    When all the shouting's over, the impact of Fannie and Freddie will be a footnote. The abandonment of risk management as a practice was a general phenomenon, and it was a consequence of deregulation, both through legislation and through executive negligence on the part of the Bush administration. They're symbolic culprits, but hardly representative of the depth and breadth of the real problem.

    Credit default swaps, for instance, were a $55 trillion business based on rosy risk scenarios and outright fraud. $55 trillion dwarfs the size of Fannie and Freddie's mortgage portfolios. If you want to talk meaningfully about this problem, stop being simple-minded about it.

    November 10, 2008 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  10. IowaMom

    Jim in Texas November 10th, 2008 5:10 pm ET

    No one should worry the new Christ Obama will fix everything for everyone……..his promises are Gold.

    ***************************************************

    You are an idiot.

    November 10, 2008 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  11. republicans hate america

    Obama needs to be bold to get things done and not feel sorry for the conservatives or be sorry for winning this election. He will not worry about offending the right wing they caused this mess shut up.

    November 10, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  12. Oh No, It's Barry-O

    Obama's approval rating is at it's lowest levels yet for the President-Elect.

    November 10, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  13. boered1

    @ Dave in CA (sorry oyu do not deserve all caps)

    Actually this problemm started during the 1980s with reagan and Bush 1 pushing for deregulation, that is when the ARM mortgages first came out and well as several other "creative financing plans" to allow people to get into houses. It was one of Reagan's highlighted themes to get every American a home of their own. Now you are correct freddie Mac and Fannie May did fail to do what they were supposed to do, and yes for the last 1 1/2 years (vice 2 1/2 as you state)) the Democrats did control the comittee delegated to oversite of these two enetities but for the previous 12 years that oversight was under republican control. keep in mind that for the last 40 years the Republicans have controlled the Presidency all but 12 years and the Congress all but 14 years(and only 4 years of that coincided with a democratic Presidnet). So either the Democrats are VERY good at getting what they want done in the short period of time they have to do it in and therefore are the more effective leaders or this is the republicans fault.. I will let you make the choice

    November 10, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  14. republicans hate america

    NYer - you are a moron you criticize Obama for demanding to fix the mess that your monkey Bush created. Obama would have never made this mess to begin with god I hate people like you.

    November 10, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  15. EqualBranchesofGovernment

    Waaaaaa!!!........Have the wealthiest American's started giving up the country club memberships yet?? or selling the vacation homes and yachts in the Caymans..........then you know things are bad!!

    November 10, 2008 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  16. Paul in FL

    Obama, and the country, has a very deep hole they must climb out of after 8 years of mismanagement.
    I don't blame Bush but I can only shake my head at the millions who voted for him twice for the wrong reason and now we all must suffer for their stupidity.

    November 10, 2008 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  17. Lesley

    It's odd to me that Sarah Palin is still getting news coverage, e.g., The Situation Room on Wednesday and other interviews, and not word one from McCain except that he'll be in the Senate again starting this week.

    November 10, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  18. Truth Hurts

    Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

    Ask Joe "Flowmax" Biden, Vice President and Plagerist who was caught red handed cheating and stealing someones intellectual property.

    Seems that Cheating, Lying, and using Chicago Street Fight Political Tactics is the Core of the Obama Administration.

    Truth Hurts.

    November 10, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  19. Catholic-mom-4-OBAMA

    THANK YOU "60 year old, white female for Obama" ! YOU are right! The 68% positive rating for President-elect Obama and .......75% of the nation saying they BELIEVE he will do a good job, IS POSITIVE!

    WHY THE NEGATIVE SPIN, INDEED?????????????????????

    @ "NYER" DON'T BE SO IGNORANT!

    November 10, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  20. Get with it!

    The dude BETTER let the people who WORK keep their MONEY! The economy is BAD and making us who have worked hard pay for those who don't is WRONG. Get busy, boy, you have a LOT of promises to fulfill.

    November 10, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  21. Truth Hurts

    "Six in ten say that they don't clearly know what Obama would do to improve the economic situation."

    Yea, and one of them is Obama himself!!

    Watch Wait and See America.

    We are about to get taxed into submission by Obama.

    The Barrack Obama National Sales Tax.

    Will you call that Historic?

    Will you still be a fan of Obama once he starts tacking on 5% to everything you buy?

    Truth Hurts

    November 10, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  22. Beverly, NYC

    Speak for yourself Mr. Steinhauser, I am very optimistic about the future. As americans I hope this economc crisis has taught us to live within our means. I've seen too many of my friends using credit cards to live like rap stars or movie stars without a pot to piss in or a to throw it out of. I think we should stop looking to the government to fix all problems and start taking responsibility for self . I may not have the flashiest car but it's paid for, may not have the biggest house, but in two yrs it's paid for even if I lose my job I will be able to pay my bills without being a burden on the system. While you're happy for Obama, tells your son's to pull their pant sup, stay in school, emulate the president, there is no excuse now. I would like to see a Sunday Sermon about that!!!

    November 10, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  23. Catholic-mom-4-OBAMA

    @ KIM........ Tulsa gun show SALES doing well! Its amazing how people whom consider themselves CHRISTIANS, live in such FEAR! So much is written in the Bible about NOT BEING AFRIAD yet these poor saps are afraid! Well, gun manufacturing must be doing well despite of the bad economy!

    I can not wait until President-elect Obama starts work! In four years, when the economy IS better, when those miserably-scared-gun people have jobs and they are doing better......... will they give credit where credit is due? (crickets chirping) Didn't think so.

    SOME people are just born, Haters, they do not know how else to be! SO sad since HATE is what JESUS preached against!

    As long as I live I will not understand the politics of hate, lies, fear and division that the far-right spews!

    November 10, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  24. David Brickner

    A "positive view of what Obama has DONE since he was elected president"???? Like what? Obama is way out as point man for the money men who got him elected. If he follows orders, he might be OK. If he doesn't or if things go badly they will hide in the bushes as he gets cut down. He doesn't have any coat tails, or loyalty in the Senate or Congress. He hasn't been around long enough, and those who support him will look out for their own butts. His appointment of Rahm Emanuel for Chief-of-Staff shows me that he already has a handler and shows who is really running things. I wish him luck..........WE need it!!!!

    November 10, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  25. KJL

    What we have to do is give the Obama administration time. Things didn't fall apart over night, and they won't change immediately.

    We must try to be optimistic, tighten our belts, and help those in need until the economy strengthens.

    November 10, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
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