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. Perusing-through

    CNN and the MEDIA NEEDS STOP, , , STEP BACK, , , AND LOOK AT THEIR OWN HYPOCRISY.

    No incoming President in American history has endured the brutal scrutiny and flaming hot crucible of national and international media as President Obama is now enduring. Yes, there are a few in the media that understand the NEW President needs to be cut some slack until his cabinet leadership team is fully in placed. But most of the media and especially FAUX News, Talk Radio, and conservative pundits are acting like a bunch of whining, hypocritical babies. The media hypocrites said little to nothing about Bush-Cheney failures leading to the current national disasters. Now it seems like Obama can't exhale without the media scrutinizing his breath with silly debates about whether he has fulfilled his campaign promises, or whether he is truly bipartisan?!? Enough already!!!

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

    What do you expect from a repub?

    The repubs almost 100% negative vote on the new stimulus bill is just a stupid attempt at trying to sink obama's efforts to bail us out of what all the repubs caused by their actions and/or inactions.

    Enought is enought!!!

    February 13, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  3. obama-mama

    @LIP: How many people did you poll, 2?

    February 13, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  4. Troy

    WOW! READING NEWS COVERAGE YOU WOULD THINK OBAMA HAS BEEN PRESIDENT FOR 3 YERAS OR MORE INSTEAD OF A FEW WEEKS.

    February 13, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  5. Lucy

    3 weeks into the office......and still trying to mend the ways of Washington and work with the Republicans. In the real world, new employees get 6 months of probation before we make a judgement call on competency.

    February 13, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  6. Jackie

    I wonder how much of the 1,000 plus page stimulus package the president is really aware of? Has he read it all and does he understand it all? He seems to be traveling around pushing this package so much, when does he have time to study the package? How much input has he actually had regarding this package? I think the package stinks and is absolutely wrong for the country. When can I read all this public information? Where is the transperancy? I thinks that the president was untruthful when running for office. He seems to be doing everything other than what he really said.

    February 13, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  7. TINA

    WE TOLD YOU SO!

    OBAMA WOULD BE A BUST!!!!!

    February 13, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  8. 2010

    I think President Obama is doing a fine job and trust him to work hard for the American people. The high poll numbers seem to indicate a similar approval in general. Godspeed Obama.

    February 13, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  9. TwoCentsWorth

    Considering the hundreds of hours that have gone into vetting hundreds of candidates, the Administration is doing a fantastic job of selecting noteworthy and highly qualified Cabinet, advisors, and staff. The fallout for various causes is a small percentage and only significant because the media makes it so. The cawing from the Republicans is only to be expected , a reflex action, and can be ignored. I remember quite a few problems with nominees of other Presidents, some for much more serious reasons. Not all issues can be foreseen or uncovered in advance–let's move on.

    February 13, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  10. Idiots

    When you reach across the aisle, there is nothing but garbage.

    February 13, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  11. jess

    Enough already. What a ridiculous article.

    February 13, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  12. TC

    The 35 % or so who give him negative remarks are likely to be hardcord Rush Limbaugh listening Republicans, who are never going to like him. That is predictable, and thus not exactly news.

    February 13, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  13. LK in NJ

    Did the Republicans threaten him also? This sounds like a relationship that has gone sour. The RNC: You're not leaving me... If I can't have you no one else will!

    February 13, 2009 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  14. NOT THE KINDA GUY TO SAY I TOLD YOU SO, BUT I TOLD YOU SO

    Rulle of thumb is subtract 30 percentage points off any liberal in a liberal poll.

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

    how long did Mr. Bush took to complete his cabinet members? 3 months=90+ days.
    because the current president is popular with people so we have 789 billion polls per day on his A-Z...

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

    Why do liberals continue to look past the fact that our economy started to tank AFTER their beloved party took control of Congress in 2006. My guess would be because they also think Barney Frank is a genius!

    February 13, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  17. TwoCentsWorth

    About Gregg, whatever his stated reasons for withdrawing, he also has a staffer under criminal investigation for accepting a bribe from a lobbyist. Hmmm....

    February 13, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  18. COUNTRY FIRST

    Mr. Gregg... your party nominee was on a bus calling "NO SURRENDER". Now, your country called for your service, your president called for your service. WHY ARE SURRENDERING AND HIDING??????????

    February 13, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  19. Jim in DC

    This is a sad reminder of how partisian Washington is. Obama "reaches across the aisle," only to get his hand slapped. Pelosi and Reid are exacerbating this partisianship by not making the same overtures as Obama. The Republicans are driven lock-step (out of fear, perhaps) by their wing-nut media "overlords" like Rush Limbaugh. Courage is only to be found in the middle, and too few Democrats and too few Republicans are brave enough to meet Obama there. Sad days ahead until they grow up and put America and Americans first.

    February 13, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  20. oscar

    now I'm mad.. the republicans had copies for weeks.. but to lazy to even read it.. drama of yelling NO one could have read it when they had weeks?? Only a few pages changed which they got copies as soon as everyone else..

    Oscar goes to Bill and his republican party for best drama in the white house..

    nothing but lies from them..

    to lazy to read for the American worker.. just wanting to fight and take the lazy vote of No .. on our lives

    February 13, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  21. Joan Parsons

    Change in America..NO change...Spending the money we don't have AGAIN..No accountability from anyone in the GOV as promised by Obama...and lies from the media is the NORM of our lives. Lies from Wall Street..CEO's out of control and corrupt still faces us daily.

    Obama is not what he seemed to be and he will not get re-elected. How can you vote when the American people cannot even find the bill or read the bill or tell their senators or congressmen what they want.

    PORK...........PORK..........PORK.........and more PORK...WHY??????????

    Joan in Phila

    February 13, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  22. obama-mama

    Glennis February 13th, 2009 12:23 pm ET

    I can't remember a time when I've seen such disorganization and ineptitude in trying to establish a cohesive administration. What a circus act.
    __________________________________________________

    What I think is a circus is those Republican (namely McCain and the southern freak) clowns fighting like children about this bill. The problems with our President administration is not his fault. Folks should have been honest with their President.

    February 13, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  23. Phil of Colorado

    Not his fault the Dems raise taxes but apparently don't pay them!

    February 13, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  24. Willy Brown

    #44 has never held any office long enough to get a feel for personnel. He’s been campaigning like he is now so he will plummet in the polls and the big liberal media who made this guy will not be able to cover for him this time next year.

    February 13, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  25. summers

    Give me a break! You guys are ridiculous with your polling. P..L..E..A..S..E. Give the man a chance to pick some good people that he can work with. It is not easy even to hire good office staff. President Obama needs to take his time and pick good people.

    February 13, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
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