February 13th, 2009
04:15 PM ET
5 years ago

Poll: Trouble signs for Obama over Cabinet picks?

Obama's second pick for Commerce Secretary, Sen. Judd Gregg, withdrew his nomination Friday.
Obama's second pick for Commerce Secretary, Sen. Judd Gregg, withdrew his nomination Friday.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Four weeks into his administration, President Barack Obama is still searching for secretaries of Commerce and Health and Human Services.

But six out of 10 Americans think Obama is doing a good job choosing members of his Cabinet, according to a national poll. The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released this week suggests that 61 percent of those questioned give the president a thumbs-up when it comes to choosing his Cabinet, with 38 percent saying Obama is doing a poor job selecting the top officials in his administration.

While 61 percent is a solid majority, it's far lower than the 80 percent of respondents who say Obama is providing strong leadership for the country, the 76 percent who feel he's doing a good job handling foreign policy, the 72 percent who indicate Obama's doing a good job dealing with the economy and the 68 percent who give the President a thumbs-up when it comes to handling policies on terrorism.

It's also 15 points lower than the president's overall approval rating of 76 percent.

"His approval rating on choosing his Cabinet is a good number, but it's his biggest weakness," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted February 7-8, before Senator Judd Gregg stepped down Thursday from his nomination as Commerce Secretary, but after former Senator Tom Daschle dropped out earlier this month as Health and Human Services nominee. Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico also stepped down at the beginning of the year from his nomination as Commerce Secretary, bringing the number of formal Obama Cabinet nominees to drop out to three.

When former President George W. Bush was moving into the White House in 2001, only one of his Cabinet designates stepped down after being nominated; the same with Bill Clinton when he was taking over the presidency back in 1993.

When broken down by party, the poll suggests that 88 percent of Democratic respondents say Obama is doing a good job when it comes to choosing his Cabinet, with 11 percent saying he's doing a poor job. It's a different story among Republicans, with 36 percent giving Obama the thumbs-up and 64 percent feeling the President's doing a poor job when it comes to choosing the top members of his administration.

"Democrats are standing by him. Republicans aren't, even though he used some of his Cabinet picks to reach out to the GOP," adds Holland.

Gregg would have joined Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood as the third Republican in Obama's Cabinet.

The poll questioned 806 adult Americans by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.


Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (729 Responses)
  1. Jon in CA

    Hey CNN – how about doing a poll of Americans that approve or disapprove of Obama, Harry and Nancy pushing through an $800 Billion Package without giving members of Congress any time to read it!!

    Whadya think?

    Nahh... never mind... it wouldn't put a good light on the MSM's political goldenboy.

    February 13, 2009 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  2. Bankrupt in Tx

    Maybe this shows we don't need Commerce and HHS Secretaries so why spend the money?

    February 13, 2009 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  3. Mark

    More trouble signs from his stimulus package and the lobyist he brought right back into the white house.

    February 13, 2009 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  4. J.P..

    Want some more percentages?
    Try these on:
    20% unemployment
    25% interest rates
    20% inflation

    These are what is waiting for Obama if he signs the "stimulus" bill into law.

    February 13, 2009 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  5. Molly

    Does anyone else find it funny how hard of time he is having trying to get Democrats and Republicans to work together. Its like none of them got the message from the last election...i.e. the old way of doing things is over and its time to start moving forward.

    February 13, 2009 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  6. Sheryl

    CNN this is so not news!!!!!!

    February 13, 2009 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  7. Pat H

    Can six out of ten people really be so deluded as to think that recycled Clinton people represent change?

    February 13, 2009 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  8. Mike in Houston

    Republican aren't standing by Obama because Obama's policies are fringe-left and disasterous for the nation.

    February 13, 2009 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  9. TCM

    "....The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted February 7-8..."

    That's 5-6 days ago....old news....things are changing at lightening speed, and CNN's using old and heavily biased poll data to try and shed a positive light on this incompetent administration. Face it, 6 out of 10 was a poll executed with about 1000 people, all pro-dem, out of a country of millions? Where the majority of it's citizens are center-right? Where's the validity in this poll? If you wash out the tainted ACORN votes along with the heavy bias of the MSM, you'll see that OBama's support has probably dwindled to <50%, and is sliding faster than the stock market. Why? Well, as conservatives have stated all along, there's no experience, no substance and only a socialist agenda....despite what they spew, when it comes down to it, most liberal hate socialism; they just don't know what it is yet......

    February 13, 2009 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  10. Had It

    That 38% is definitely the Greedy Obstructionist Party members.

    They put us in this mess and don't want a democrat to fix. That would guarantee more Dems in 2010 - the Repuklican'ts are scared. They'd rather see the whole country go down than to help try to fix the messes.

    February 13, 2009 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  11. A Sousley

    This in no way is Pres. Obama's fault, this is Gregg's fault. He is the one who made the decision to want to come to the cabinet, he is the one who decided to leave. How can you in any way put that on the President?

    Gregg is being a partisian hack and bowed to the pressure of the right wing. That's all this was about. No more No less.

    February 13, 2009 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  12. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    Would you rather have the Bush Cabinet back, starting with that pillar of intellect, FEMA Director, Mike Brown?!

    I didn't think so!!!!!!

    February 13, 2009 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  13. Independent_me

    It seems as if Judd went after this post for the Census. Once that was removed from the Commerce dept., he was no longer interested. Controlling the census would have allowed the Republicans to manipulate the census and not count minorities. This would affect re-districting, thus benefiting them.

    Obama needs to grow up and realize that the Republicans have no desire to reach across the aisle and work together for the good of the country. Its their way, or the highway. And we have seen what "their way" has done to the country. They cannot think independently, and they bully and threaten any one who breaks ranks with them, or challenge them. Idealism is good...but it is foolish to cast your pearls before swine.

    February 13, 2009 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  14. LIP

    Hell, I did my own poll and with a fairly diverse group of people and they all just laugh when anyone mentions Obama's cabinet picks. First thing that comes up is how well the Democrats seem to be at avoiding paying taxes on the huge sums of money these "poor" people make annually.
    I'm thinking CNN needs to do a better, more thorough job, of polling the people.

    February 13, 2009 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  15. MNP

    C'mon people. This President was left a HUGE mess to clean up. It's only been a month he's been in office. Meanwhile, the republicans (most of them) aren't trying to embrace bipartisanship one bit. If there's someone to point fingers at, it should be the majority of republicans.

    February 13, 2009 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  16. chelle

    The Repubs don't like his picks...well they chose D. Rumsfeld – need we say more????????

    February 13, 2009 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  17. Suzanne Schecker

    What is the matter with the media in this country. Why are you always looking for a way to bring people down and create controversy. You create the polls and control them by the things you chose to report on.
    Don't you think in these difficult times yo ucould be using your energy to educate people about important issues and stop this ridiculous who's up and who's down political games. The president needs and has the support of a major majority of the people in this country. Stop trying to take him down.

    February 13, 2009 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  18. Tyran

    If it's anything you can blame Obama for is the fact that he is being overly generous to these Republicans which keeps getting him burned.

    February 13, 2009 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  19. MysteriousTraveller

    Another non-issue covered by "the best team in politics."

    February 13, 2009 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  20. Sharon Northern Virginia

    Things will get better for the President. The 3 to step aside had baggage, so it is good they have moved on. We need to be sure they are not re-elected in any positions.

    February 13, 2009 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  21. THE AMERICAN PEOPLE

    IT'S NOT HIS FAULT THAT THE NOMINEES ARE NOT TRUTHFUL . YOU ARE GOING TO ALWAYS HAVE BAD APPLES. IT'S GREAT THAT HE IS CATCHING THEM EARLY!! FOLKS, PLEASE REALIZE THAT HIS PRESIDENCY IS N'T EVEN 30 DAYS OLD AND WE ARE GETTING CAUGHT UP ON APPROVAL RATINGS!!

    February 13, 2009 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  22. Ray Fisher, Albuquerque, NM

    Unfortunately our government is being neglected due to the stimulus and do-nothing Congress yet again. We must get back to basics and get our entire government running again!!!

    February 13, 2009 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  23. Kitchen Police

    The only trouble signs are CNN's poor reporting. Just the facts boys and girls, just the facts.

    February 13, 2009 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  24. Big D

    Maybe Obama's ratings would come in a little higher if the media didn't spend so much time asking 'is this troubling news for Obama' or 'is this a sign of trouble for Obama' . Maybe Obama's ratings would come in a little higher if the media didn't give so much time to the GOP to spout their oppositional rhetoric, without asking them to back up their flimsy talking points.

    February 13, 2009 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  25. Oh brother

    Apparently a team of rivals is intended to be more like sibling rivalry.

    February 13, 2009 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
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