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. Casey

    Mike in Houston wrote:
    Republican aren't standing by Obama because Obama's policies are fringe-left and disasterous for the nation.
    =============================================
    Doing nothing is diastrous for the nation. 8 years of war spending on a pointless war is disastrous for the nation. Wake up.

    February 13, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  2. Brian

    Obama and the democrats promised the citizens of this country the ability to view the bill for 48hrs before they voted. Obama promised clairity . . . . transparency – thats the word. Now we actually expect Obama to hold true to his word. If they vote today, the news will focus on the outcome, but we will also focus on the total failure of the democrats and Obama to keep his promise. The largest bill ever and we the citizens cannot view it before it is voted on? Gregg expected to join the team and come to an agreement, however I'm sure it was Gregg that realized there would be no agreement, only the ability to follow Obama and the other democrats 100% of the time and Obama would be able to claim he has Republicans on his team, however they are not able to make any changes to his policies.

    February 13, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  3. andrea -baltimore

    My My it's been 4 weeks and we are still talking about the GOP
    as being something other than what they are stupid.. Mr Obama good try but let those clown go

    February 13, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  4. vic nashville,Tn

    Obama administration look like Bush administration

    February 13, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  5. no corporate politics

    reaching across the aisle becomes do it my way
    bring troops home becomes send troops to Afghanistan
    transparency becomes control the media and ram agendas through
    no lobbyists become use lobbyists
    hope becomes fear

    February 13, 2009 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  6. Jon Davis

    It was a mistake for Obama to push for bipartisanship; most Republicans (save three) have done everything possible to hurt bipartisan efforts, which is definitely hurting our country. But most Republicans just don't care about our country.

    February 13, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  7. JoJo

    I would rather have a Bush cabinet. You may not like them policy but at least they were honest and not a group of thugs, tax cheats, and wives of rapists.

    February 13, 2009 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  8. Jeff

    Where was the bipartisanship when Bush was in office? Nothing has changed, except the other side is complaining now. Obama will not be able to change that, as amazing as people think he is.

    In four or eight years when a Republican is president, the complaining will switch side again. Get use to it people!!!!

    February 13, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  9. J. S.

    I don't believe these so called polls–Are only the blue states being targeted?? Only Democrats being called??

    February 13, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  10. Al

    President Obama is a hypocrite. I voted for him, I had great hope for his Presidency, and in less than a month as President he has convinced me that he was lying about almost every promise he made during his campaign. He wants to hold hands and sing kumbaya with the Republicans who got us into this mess. I don't know if Obama is naive, on the lobbyist’s payroll, or the Presidential version of Joe Lieberman. We Democrats elected him, and I am certain we are looking at a 1 term President. So, Mr. President, prove me wrong. Do something for the people of this country. Get the former lobbyists out of your cabinet. Stop nominating tax cheats. Help people stay in their homes. Get universal single payer healthcare going, and get rid of the Republicans. The Republicans have re-payed your inclusive overtures by making a fool out of you. Do you get it yet? I'm not very hopeful anymore for a President who gets so many things wrong in his first month in office, and who seems intent on helping those who don't need help, while ignoring those who do.

    February 13, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  11. LIP

    Oh Joy, Sniffit has singled me out again.
    Stuffit, Sniffit

    February 13, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  12. Josh in LA

    Gregg left the position AFTER he became aware that OB did not have the faith in him to perform the positions duties. So OB took the census(one of the main duties of Commerce Dept) and put it under his control b/c he knew Gregg would not intentionally tilt the census to allow redrawing of districts which would ultimately insure Democratic control of the govt. and use our tax dollars (the census helps direct what & where our tax dollars go). It is like the president of your company prmoting you to vp but then saying you are going to answer his calls and schedule meetings not perform the normal vp duties. it was an insult from BO and nothing more than an attempt to APPEAR bipartisan.

    Republican & Democrat are labels not positions. Conservative and Liberal are positions. The Repbublican failures over the last 8 yrs are are due not to conservatism but rather the failure to adhere to the party platform of conservatism. Conservatism-self reliance, less govt, conservative values.

    The Republicans are not being obstructionist but only now realize the reason they lost power was they failed to stick to their platform and if they don't get back to it soon they truly would go extinct. Their recent actions to stop this big ol pork package OB is shoving has finally restrored some of my faith in the party. I HOPE they continue to stand for their constituents. Democrats are not trying to "SAVE THE ECONOMY". They are using their new found popularity & scare tactics to push their liberal social agenda which they have not been able to do for the last 20 years. That is why most Democrats/Liberals support the plan. Not to save the ecomy but to push their constituents agenda. I can't fault them for pushing their constituents agenda but I can fault them for lying and selling it under the guise of job stimulus.

    February 13, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  13. Micha

    Obam wants it his way or the highway. The Republicans have reached out and are trying to work on a bipartisan basis but they have been slapped in the face by Obama.

    February 13, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  14. Dan

    Bush and his cronies put us here. It amazes me that anyone would expect an administration that is 3 weeks old to fix everything, do everything perfectly and be totally right about everything. Short memories of who/what occupied that office 3 weeks ago.

    The clueless wonder!!!! Did nothing right, screwed up everything and and believed he was right all the time. Yep... bring him back. Let him finish the job!!!!

    February 13, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  15. Fitz

    15points below his 76% approval rating, CNN are you kidding me? 15 points. This is your idea of trouble at the polls. I am sure every politican in the U.S.A would love to have those poll numbers. Even 15 points lower that 76 %.

    February 13, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  16. Lori

    As long as the American people are happy with his strong leadership, who cares about cabinet picks? Look at what the better 'vetted' Bush picks did to this country?

    February 13, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  17. Ann C

    I think his cabinet is top notch...Judd was the weak link I thought. I am so glad he stepped down from consideration. But Judd...your reasons are questionable, did you not pay attention to the election of the last 2 years and understand Obama's policies and ideas. Or is there something else you are hiding?

    February 13, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  18. Dave

    Here is one decision hopefully all of us will agree on – Senator Gregg stepping back from his appointment to be Commerce Secretary. Senator Gregg is showing true courage & American pride by simply stating he can't support President Obama's financial policies and politizing the censys, therefore should not be in his cabinet as President Obama needs those folks to be 100% committed to his causes. Hopefully we ALL agree on this – President Obama is the President and it's his way or the highway as it should be for ALL Presidents.

    What puzzles me is this – President Obama wants to politize the Censys by bringing it under the control of the Whitre House – and NO public outrage over this????? Can you imagine the uproar and furor if President Bush tried this.

    This is why we have such a HUGE divide in our wonderful country – it's okay if a Democrate does this but not a Republican? Guess only Dem's can have it both ways

    February 13, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  19. Vicky from Milwaukee

    Don't you in the media get tired of spinning everything that isn't conservative so negatively? It took eight years of Bush baby to get us in this mess. It's going to take some time to get out of it. Give him a break. You and your right thinking corporate bosses sure gave Bush many chances.

    February 13, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  20. Ekbaaaal from San Diego

    Yeh Bhadwa laal hai
    Bulle ka baal hai

    Yeh bhadwa hastha
    Bulle ka basthaa

    February 13, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  21. Micha

    RJ – you are as much of a Republican as Obama is a Capitalist/Patriot, which means you have never been a Republican in your life. Fool.

    February 13, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  22. BD

    I think he made the right decision. Yes he wanted the job, but why would anyone want a position like that only to be told that he really wouldn't have been running the position and he would have to act like a puppet. I say he stood up for whta was right and did the right thing. So far all I've seen is that with the exception of the three rogue republicans, only the democrats are allow to make the decissions as to what is good for this country. It appears that we are headed towards a dictatorship. Obama is Pelosi's puppet!!

    February 13, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  23. Hexum

    It's funny you left wingers are all against CNN for this column, yet this is your network. Maybe CNN is just stating the facts, and you don't want to come to the conclusion that this may actually be true. Well, believe it, and I commend CNN for actually stepping up to the plate and reporting the truth. Maybe some of you Liberals should tune into FOX if you don't like the way CNN is covering this. I pray Obama can get us out of this mess, but with the way things are starting with this stimulus bill and all of these potential cabinet members dropping out.. it doesn't look good.

    February 13, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  24. obama-mama

    Gregg had a private meeting with the Republican Klansmen and made his announcement following the meeting. The Republicanasauras' are having such a hard time with a black man in office. It's really a shame. They would let their country fall into the pit of hell just to ruin one man. Shame on you.

    February 13, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  25. Kris in AL

    THE TALLER THEY ARE, THE HARDER (and faster) THEY FALL!

    February 13, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
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