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. mk

    Amazing. Gregg backs out and the GOP sabotages Obama and CNN reports this as an Obama weakness. CNN: that is YOUR weakness!

    February 13, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  2. Mike

    Poll: Trouble for Gregg cabinet acceptance?

    February 13, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  3. BWJ

    STOP THIS NONSENSE REPORTING. STOP IT NOW. Why is it necessary to pick, pick, pick until you find a NEGATIVE angle on EVERYTHING? WHY? The majority approve of Obama's performance. The man's been in office for LESS THAN A MONTH and he's already undone a huge amount of eight years of damage - he's already accomplished more positive for the nation and the world than the opposition accomplished in their last four administrations. FIND THE TRUTH. REPORT THE TRUTH. STOP BEING PURVEYORS OF EVERYTHING THAT ***YOU*** THINK IS WRONG. THE WRONG, IN FACT, IS YOU.

    February 13, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  4. kayla

    LIKE BOB MARLEY'S SONG SAYS. THE RICH GET RICHER, AND THE POOR GETS POORER.

    February 13, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  5. Mike

    From George,

    "Obama has been in for less than 30 days. In that time, he has shown his contempt for the reasons behind Gitmo"

    Ummm...it couldn't possibly be because torture is against the Geneva convention could it????

    Seriously, what is wrong with people like you? Is it jealousy, mental illness, sadism, what?? How can you with a clear conscience support the torture at GItmo? How can you take such an extremist view that would make bin Laden proud?

    Benjamin Franklin, Patrick Henry, and the rest of our founding fathers would be so dissapointed in you.

    February 13, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  6. MJ

    Ol' Hollywood Barack is going to find out why it took a Carter to get a Reagan.

    February 13, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  7. Vincent Petrosino

    OMG! Mike in Houston – Do all you Texans think alike? Are you that naive? Republicans do not want President Obama to succeed regardless of what the majority of the American people want and said so November 4th. Do you understand the importance of the word "majority"? The American people asked for bipartisanship to get us out of the mess partisanship caused. Obama has tried to be bipartisan and the GOP has knocked the olive branch out of his hand. Your fellow Texan BUsh and his GOP cronies got us into this. Wake up! Please wake up! Gregg injured himself and the GOP more. We Americans see how he played Obama. It is sad to you people down south never seem to get it. People are losing jobs, homes, lives over this and all you can think about is "fringe'-left"? What is wrong with you?

    February 13, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  8. mark

    Sharon- Obama was supposed to be ready on DAY 1. Or is it day 31?? Day 41?? This is the Democrat version of "Mission Accomplished". He wanted the job- He asked for the job. Now it's time for him to do the job. No matter what the mess was, he said he could handle it.

    Or is he just another smooth talking carpet bagger politician?

    February 13, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  9. clarencebrown

    Obama is turning out to be the biggest fraud this country has ever seen in the oval office.

    February 13, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  10. Diana NJ

    The Gop still has a hang over from the Bush days and can't shake it... they seem to be like sheep following one another

    February 13, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  11. Seriously

    I feel the Gregg departure was a failed attempt by the GOP to make Obama look bad. The GOP need to stop their political posturing. A lot of Americans are fed up with that.

    Repubs are famous for redistricting areas by using the census numbers. That happened a lot in Texas. Obama was smart to pull that power so widely abused by the GOP.

    February 13, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  12. shoegazer

    Eight years of the most corrupt adminstration in the countries history,
    the worst economic situation in decades which may take decades to overcome,and there are people expecting miracles to appear in weeks.Strap yourself in for a long bumpy ride folks.There will be mistakes made,poor decisions in choices, but to keep on the same old path would lead straight into the abyss.

    February 13, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  13. uncle jimbo - Chicago

    It is time to say enough cum-by-yah, and disreguard most everything the Rush Limbough led GOP has to say. They have already admitted to wanting this administration to fail, no matter what. Just look at what their tax break to the wealthiest 1 or 2 %, and their concept of deregulation of the market have done to our Country the last eight years.
    Get a team of centrist Democrats that will support the President, and get started on getting us out of the mess the Bush/Cheney administration has left us.

    February 13, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  14. MR-TN

    IS IT ME, OR DO YOU GUYS NOTICE THAT THE MEDIA IS DESPERATELY TRYING TO DESTORY OBAMA AND THE "CHANGE" MESSAGE WITH THE HELP OF THE "TALIBAN" REPUBLICANS?

    I think that after the election and inauguration, the republicans and the media have decided that they have to destory him. I think they are really scared of him and have decided to spin as much negativity at him as possible. I also think that we Americans need to REALLY stop listen to their garbage. THe media are trying to brain-wash us. We cannot allow this! Be selective and research information on line as much as possible. We have to take back our country, stay informed with facts, not spin and help this president help us. Change won't be easy when you are fighting the FEAR of change.

    Don't become sheep!

    Go to informative websites and give yourself your news!

    Also, boycott the networks by not watching their shows, reading their papers and visiting their websites.

    LET'S TAKE BACK OUR COUNTRY!

    February 13, 2009 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  15. bill

    come on cnn.you can do better than that.obama at 76 percent approvel.you must be hurting for news.this is GREAT NEWS AMERICANS VOTED FOR CHANGE AND OBAMA IS TRYING TO GIVE IT TO THEM.SO MOVER AND SHUT UP.

    February 13, 2009 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  16. John

    Clearly, a 76% approval was not sustainable. As soon as a chief executive makes decisions, some people won't approve and approval ratings will fall.

    Unfortunately, so much of the discussion around our current problems is Democrat vs Republican. The American people have been grossly ill served by both parties. Monied interests have significantly corrupted our politics-perhaps to a level not seen previously in our history. Gaining and maintaing power is the priority for our politicians – and the country suffers because of it.

    Obama came into office largely because of a rejection of 8 years of Bush(53% is hardly a landslide)....and Bush(a terrible campaigner) came into office largely because of a rejection/fatigue with Clinton. Obama's campaign strategy of hope and change without much detail was both deliberate and masterful.

    The important question is whether the great campaigner can rise up above the partisanship and become the leader we need in these difficult times. Much too early to call.

    February 13, 2009 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  17. Juan from L.A.

    That Geithner pick was the most imbecile and idiotic move ever. The guy speaks and market crashes, and this is the guy that needs to inspire. He doesn't answer questions. Guess what the reminds me off? Bush Administration. Oh and his cockiness is sickening. He picks people that don't pay taxes. Brought the whole Clinton administration back after calling or campaigning for CHANGE. And yesterday he picks as his drug czar a guy that comes from a city where drugs roam free and out of control. Insane!!!

    Ohh and by the way I voted for Obama.

    February 13, 2009 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  18. Peter V

    Oh for pity's sake – the media is so desperate to push the "Obama is slipping" narrative (being fed to them by Drudge and the GOP) that they pull out a 61% approval rating for cabinet picks as "evidence?" Give me a break.

    Wake up and smell the java, CNN. The vast majority in this country support the President's efforts, and attempting to tear their efforts down isn't doing anyone any good, except for a minority of whack-job Republicans, who would rather see us all go down in flames..

    February 13, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  19. Richard

    People are getting wise and starting to bail form the Democratic Party.

    February 13, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  20. Airport toetappers?

    We should all be glad Phil Gramm didnt get in with McCain.I see he made Times most wanted list of crooks today.

    February 13, 2009 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  21. tracy

    does anyone else realize that the Obama bill is the same as what the last 8 years was, Spend, spend ,spend. Do not count on this bill creating jobs, just more debt to China. Born in America owned by China.

    February 13, 2009 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  22. Sylvia in Houston

    May the GOP – RIP ( or not ). The GOP does not have short term or long term memory, THEY GO US IN THIS MESS !!!!!! In November America said 8 years is enough and elected not selected President Obama. Republicans policies have proven disasterous to the nation and the world as a whole. GOP – RIP ( or not ).

    February 13, 2009 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  23. Sniffit

    @ TCM

    More complete gibberish from you. Fact: you have not the first clue what socialism is. Go ahead, give us a working definition without wikipedia or otherwise looking it up with the internet.

    February 13, 2009 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  24. Mag

    i am a proud Rep and we see Rush Lim and Sean Hannity as our Party Leaders. Sarap Palin will be our candidate in 2012 to lead the revolution of washing our the educated and elites from Washington.

    We Reps do not believe in Education – just God and guns killing Wolves in cold ice.

    February 13, 2009 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  25. AB

    Blah, Blah, Blah
    why not change it to 51%

    Either way we will trunks the Sara Palins and the Jindals in 2012
    they have'nt got a prayer.

    February 13, 2009 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
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