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. Mike in Ca

    CNN stop making news with these ridiculous poles. Your job is to report news, not manufacture it.

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

    He has to clean up Bush's mess and what a mess it is-so give the man some credit and he can't do everything at once-you see them republicans are doing their some of them at least to down the man-and we will not fall into their trap-,like he said things will get worst before they get better-because of BUSH-CHENEY- and all them liars in the congress, I am still with the president and things will change, we need to get our money back from them crooked CEO's who spent our money for themselves make them put them billons back,now that will ready make us all happy. Just keep on praying for prayer do change things-plus I put my faith in no man. PEOPLE THINGS WILL GET BETTER.

    February 13, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  3. Dave

    Please don't label him wishy washy. How would you feel if you are given a job to do (Census) that the Constitution cleary states is your responsibility and you answer only to the president, only to have this administration skirt the Constitution and take that away. Please, we should all be up in arms over this usurpation of power. I t reeks of the things that Bush did with the Patriot Act. This administration is starting to look like W's in its treatment of the Costitution (what was it W said..."it's just a God d@#n piece of paper"). The two party system is a sham and too many are buying it hook, line and sinker.

    February 13, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  4. Ryan

    America was founded on work, moral principles and freedom lovers.
    America today is evolving into an immoral, lazy, nanny state.
    SAD.

    Why cant the secular nanny-state lovers find a country that fits their bill instead of trying to destroy this one?

    just sayin

    February 13, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  5. Sorry

    I'm sorry I votes for Obama. USA, please forgive me.

    February 13, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  6. S.Willey

    Hi,
    Not sure how those polls are done, but lets put it this way – the optimism that was there at the inauguration is waning.
    Obama 's stimulas package is the most outrageous thing we have ever seen. HE has not been proved yet at running anything – thats why this is a scarey stage with him. If the leaders of this nation – in many differant arenas caused our current state of economic ruin, why should we trust any of them at this time. Trust is earned – not given freely cause someone has a nice smile.
    Obama seems to have an agenda – its called "the new world order".
    I hope he is prepared for scrutiny, because he is not fooling a large
    group of us – that are becoming larger – who are very aware of his
    path to socialism, with a modern twist.
    Can I be clearer?

    February 13, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  7. MilesFan58

    This is a reach at best; to compare the responses to the Cabinet selections versus the other questions and suggest that there is weakness doesn't work

    February 13, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  8. abc

    listening to David Gergen last night, i agree President Obama should nominate a well knowledge & fiscal responsible businessman instead of a DC politician to this post. after all, it's for the commerce and one with grounded business experience makes a great fit!

    CNN should conduct 100+ polls on what viewers think of them, are we entering the media poll frenzy century?

    February 13, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  9. carol

    Poll shows Polls weakness!

    February 13, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  10. Sniffit

    Yawn...ridiculously high approval ratings aren't news...news is controversy and somethign to argue about or throw in the other side's face. I'm beginning to think the media's nonsense is almost more transparent than the GOP's.

    February 13, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  11. Steve

    Apparently Chris Matthews isn't doing his JOB right now, of trying to make sure the Obama Presidency is a successful one!

    February 13, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  12. Jean

    This Admin. has been a disaster from day one. President Lincoln put together a great cabinet and this President’s cabinet is a joke. The congress is a joke. This time in our history will need an experience leader, not a leader that only knows how to give a campaign speech. The blame for this circus falls on the corrupt MSM for carrying out this scam on the American people.

    February 13, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  13. S Callahan

    You really haven't gone to the kitcen table to get your 'real polls'....
    President Obama's ratings at the table are much higher...in addition, should the stim bill go through...and people start 'feeling' the benifit (both in buisness and personal) he will go even higher.

    I think it's amazaing what he has accomplished as a fairly new face in politics.....do i think he is the Messiah of the country..absolutely not...but as a team he can take the voice of the people and move it forward.

    February 13, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  14. Joan Parsons

    Oh, by the way lets don't forget that Obama said transparency.....I think he needs to look that up in the dictionary AND THEN FOLLOW THE EXPLANATION..DON'T YOU??. He also said that he would clean house IN GOV, and what did he do he hired his cabinet without even knowing what they were hiding...Tax evasion.....So no vote for you Obama in the next election. Joan PA

    February 13, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  15. Just Me In WV

    Lets see, how can I put this? Leave My President Alone and let him do his stuff. I am sure we will good hands the entirety of his 8 years!

    February 13, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  16. pete

    What a waste of time the poll is. I bet if you asked those polled who Obama nominated, less than 20% would be able to name the people.

    February 13, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  17. Unshrub

    Obama: Quit wasting your time with republicans. They have only one goal, and that is to destroy you at all costs. Including destroying the US.

    February 13, 2009 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  18. Jake

    I love all of the first time voters who are in here now now saying that Obama is being over-criticized. Well, obviously they are just getting in to CNN and politics because they sure didnt see all the negative articles and comments about Bush. BUSH, BUSH, BUSH, its all they have to defend their less than stellar performance of their chosen one.

    February 13, 2009 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  19. Jeema

    The more I see of Obama the more I realize what a profound America made in placing him in the highest office in the land. He is shallow, petty, a Marxist, and very mean spirited.

    February 13, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  20. Beverly from NC

    Republicans would die for the unprecedented popularity and trust the American people have in Obama. He is a great leader and he is doing a fabulous job for the whole 3 weeks he has been President. He is going to be one of our greatest Presidents and it scares the hell out of Republicans.

    The more the Republicans lie and whine – the more it shows how scared they are. They know they are going to lose their seats in 2010 because they betrayed the people they are supposed to represent.

    Just watch how these same Republicans will grab every dollar of stimulus money they railed against and voted against – they should refuse it if they are so against it- but of course they won't – hypocrites and liars all!

    February 13, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  21. Irving TX for Obama

    WHO Cares, he was put there to try and undermind Obama and when he saw that he could not do so, he got out the GOP knows it....

    February 13, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  22. kima

    Suzanne Schecker said it best.

    February 13, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  23. Dean in Florida

    Obama is a clown.

    February 13, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  24. Obama Cares

    used to you would find one or two bad apples in the barrel, now you are lucky to find one or two GOOD ONES.

    February 13, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  25. Paula from PA

    How naieve do the Republicans think we are? Gregg just happens to withdraw after meeting with top GOP leaders? Give me a break. The Republicans continue to play their partisan games while forgetting that they are Americans and that America needs us to come together to solve problems.

    February 13, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
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