February 13th, 2009
04:15 PM ET
6 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. donna

    Obama has given in to the far left Democrats on spending , ignored Rebublican ideas, and called it an effort to compromise.

    He could have saved the day and been a real hero of change if he had just put a stop to individual income taxes for six months. That would have been a real stimulus plan.

    February 13, 2009 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  2. Lee

    I wonder if Bush's picks came even close to this kind of scrutiny.

    February 13, 2009 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  3. Ted

    This issue isn't about Obama. Some people, regardless of political affiliation or ethnicity or race or gender have a problem with being honest to pay taxes and when they get caught, then they get regretful and weepy and all that crap. It is a human failing.

    As far as Judd Gregg, he should have never agreed to the call from Obama. If Juddy had been honest with himself, he wouldnot have suffered these irresolvable differences, what ever that means.

    February 13, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  4. Mike Preston

    Wow. The anti-Bush CNN is writing bad things about Obama?

    February 13, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  5. Tesap:Savannah, GA

    ???? THIS GUY ASKED FOR THE JOB... THEN SAID HE DID NOT WANT IT............ REPUBLICANS HAVE NO IDEA WHO THEY ARE AND WHAT THEY WANT........ THAT'S WHY INSTEAD OF WORKING TOGETHER WITH DEMS ALL THEY DO IS COMPLAIN... THE BILL IS MOSTLY A DEMOCRATIC BILL.. FINE... THE REPUB BILL......... 430BILLION IN TAX CUTS.........FOR WHO.........

    February 13, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  6. Big J

    This is nuts! The country is in trouble, hence why would I be fooling around on this site in the middle of the day when I should be working? It seems the right wingnuts get their marching orders from a radio broadcaster that is a drug addled loon. When this mess really afflicts the pocketbooks of the extremely wealthy, then all this obstruction nonsense & socialist fearmongering will stop.

    February 13, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  7. Douglas, Los Angeles California

    Gee Wheez Media! The guy haven't been President for 30 days, give him a break. We're just lucky somebody took this horrible job after what the Bush Administration left at the door step. Unfortunately he also left his republicans friends in Washington who are devoted to keeping things the way they are. At least we have a President who is in touch with the American people and trying to fix this broken country.

    Take him off the cross, we need the wood to keep warm.

    February 13, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  8. J.P.

    He is making identically the same economic mistakes that sunk Carter. And like Carter, Obama, despite his good intentions and the media's torrid, slobbering love affair with him, will wimper out of office in 2012 with approval ratings that will make Bush look popular by comparison.

    To punish those who create prosperity via investments and then whine when there are no jobs, is like executing all farmers and then wondering why your stomach is growling.

    February 13, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  9. walleye

    We are probably better off with this guy out of the cabinet. First he accepts the job, then talks with his fellow Repubs and decides the job is not for him. We dont need wishy washy people. We need decision makers who will make a difference.

    February 13, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  10. CNC

    I get sick and tired of the mainstream media trying to tie stories into their own idea of what the prevailing opinion is.

    Case in point, the Gregg withdrawl. Gregg wanted the job and then backed out. Despite this I still saw stories that tried to bring it up as an issue of "vetting", even though it had nothing to do with vetting.

    Now this story follows a similar tack. It tries to paint a 61% approval as a "weakness". It does this because the media has arbitrarily decided to cover every possible angle of the exact same story.

    They did the same thing with Palin and they do it with every other politician. I saw hundreds of stories about Palin's silly clothes. It was so over the top, that it was more of a joke on the media than Palin. There were tons of possible stories to run on Palin, but it was the clothes that got more airtime than all the others combined.

    They do it out of pure laziness. Why spend time researching an actual story when you can rewrite someone else's story from a different angle, adding maybe one little piece of new info to make it look original.

    February 13, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  11. chris from stl.

    Both are not in trouble .... However, the country is in trouble .... but, who cares!!

    February 13, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  12. BT

    REX: Wow! Did you make this stuff up all by yourself, or did your buddy Rush tell you this crap? Just wondering.

    February 13, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  13. Tunstall

    The Country is already a disasterous. You don't know Obama's policies is going to work or not. How can you possibly say that the Republican's aren't standing by Obama because of policy????
    Republican's cut your throat to spite your faces, We will overcome. America is shameful.

    February 13, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  14. filcom

    To all Democrats: stop blaming the republicans for "the mess". Blame it on the American people. I was originally from the East, and one thing I can say for sure, the Americans lack a general sense of control. Learn one thing in life – too much freedom is not good. I have learned years ago that there is lack of sacrifice in this country especially when it comes to wise spending. There is also a lack of respect for each other and an abundance of spoiled attitudes. So, it is about time to start the change INDIVIDUALLY, and maybe this country can still be saved. By the way, start from being humble and stop thinking America is the "greatest nation". In my opinion, that is not so.

    February 13, 2009 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  15. nancy miller

    Listen, I get that you Republicans love any oppty to criticize the President. However, in the case of Judd Gregg (or however you spell it), HE bungled it, not President Obama. Give me a break. The guy lobbys for the job, practically begs for it, then has a crisis of conscience a few weeks later? What I think is that he only wanted it because he thought he could control the 2010 census. The Dems and the Prez, not having been burn in a barn, knew better and removed that responsibility from the Commerce Dept. Although he says he didn't withdraw for that reason, I find it more than a little suspicious that the withdrawal came just a cpl days after that announcement was made. I feel for Obama in that some of these cabinet picks haven't exactly been forthcoming with what's hiding in their closets, but Judd Gregg made a mess of this all on his own and it's his mess to own.

    February 13, 2009 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  16. William A. Schaedler from St. Louis

    Of course Obama cannot intelligently pick proper people for his cabinet. A community organizer from Chicago does not meet people of cabinet level quality. And unknown to all the sycophantic Obama supporters who write on this site that is what Obama was before he got elected to the senate from Illinois. He was a community organizer from Chicago. He is shaping up to be a complete failure..

    February 13, 2009 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  17. Phil Nguyen

    This country is perfect for everyone to live on . I love this goverment . I am a Democrat. OBAMA is the best for this country at this time. I wish the best wish for Him . I love the way he talk in the public .....very strong and good delivery speeches . I do not like the right wing or the left wing . It make all things bad. We had to fix these problems now. Forget the right wing or the lefl wing . We work together .......for this country

    February 13, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  18. Barbara

    See what happens when you take the earmarks out of a bill? The Republicans won't vote for it!

    February 13, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  19. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    Personal to Mike in Houston:

    Disastrous for the nation?!?!?!?!

    I'd like to see your missive on the last 8 years!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 13, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  20. Jeremy Irons

    All this article shows is that 61% of the people polled are complete morons.

    "Four weeks into his administration, President Barack Obama is still searching for secretaries of Commerce and Health and Human Services...61 percent of those questioned give the president a thumbs-up when it comes to choosing his Cabinet..."

    It has been one month and he has selected multiple people with legal issues into various positions, and a few people who have stepped down or declined the offers, what-have-you. He's STILL looking for people to fill spots even a month after he became president. And let's not forget about how much talk of a "smooth transition" there was.

    Simply by definition, he can't be doing a "good" job at filling cabinet seats if things keep backfiring and causing problems. That, folks, is what we with any sort of thinking skills or brain power at all call a "bad" job. Whether it's his fault or not - which it is, for choosing these people - the fault lies on him, because he's the one appointing them in the first place.

    February 13, 2009 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  21. ruby

    Obama is trying to reach across party lines! What a novel idea..
    Clearly the right wingers are not capable of such a thought..comprimise..
    I glad this guy is out and now.. who does that,??? Obama was very clear there would be spending long before elected.

    Obama has tried to reach out to the red side and well if they liked bush so much hows that working for them and this economy?????

    Does anyone learn from history and mistakes?

    Lets try something new be adults work together!

    February 13, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  22. Tracy M.

    You guys are pulling up the carrots to see how they're growing.

    February 13, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  23. Dom in Hebron

    What is clear to me in the matter of Judd Greg is that the Republican party is afraid of a succesfull Obama presidency, because it will mean another democratic win in 2012. So we should all expect continued obstinacy and political sabotage from the republican party rather than cooperation with the democrats and the White House. I am sad that a basically good man like Sen. Greg took the cowardly road by capitulating to the republican leadership who have embarked on an obstructionist agenda rather than helping solve the horendous financial mess they created over the past eight years. It is clear who bears the brunt of the responsibility for Washington Partisanship.

    February 13, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  24. richard

    OK kids, out of the sandbox! The Nation is in a mess and we ALL have to work together to get out of it. This requires adult behavior, thinking, and some mutual respect. Lets ALL listen to what the other guy is saying–and let it sink in. Both parties have some good ideas. Both have some bad. Both parties have tax crooks. Both parties were asleep at the switch for the past twenty years, blinded by partisan policy.

    What we need is more real patriots–and fewer party hacks. Commentators on both sides must moderate their inflammatory statements. We are talking about the survival of our Nation and our way of life.

    Stop the whining.

    We have to do SOMETHING–and do it now. We will make some mistakes. But lets get on with strengthening America.

    February 13, 2009 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  25. Credit Card Republicans

    20 million new voting Democrats by 2012 projected with illegals becoming citizens and and 2010 census.What a glorious day for Rush Limbaugh and his followers.I love this news,its the end of the line for rethugs.

    February 13, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
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