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. Simpliticus

    Give the president some distance on this matter. Obama's choice for cabinet are people unlike those proffered by Bush who really are good at operating these respective positions. There are no "Brownies" in this mix, only people who have had one way or another come up short with unusual concerns, most of these being tax related issues. It may be a strategic matter why Gregg submitted his disinterest for Secretary of the Commerce, not that he wouldn't be able to capably carry out the operations of that office. Living in Washington in a post elected office offered many of these ample opportunity to grease the system, elitists typically do, hence, the matter of tax problems as a result. There is more than meets the eye with the Gregg candidacy and decline than matters of taxes or opposing party issues, me thinks!

    February 13, 2009 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  2. JSU-TIGER99

    He is doing a good job of getting the right people in the administration, the ones that he is picking need to be up front when they are ask to be a member if they can or can't do the job don't say yes and within the next hour you say no

    February 13, 2009 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  3. Sam

    I agree so much with Suzanne, what an intelligent post. The Republicans are not Country First as Mcain tried to push erroneously, they are party first and foremost to the detriment of the American people.

    February 13, 2009 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  4. Honestlady

    @Suzanne Schecker...you said it best! I totally agree.

    February 13, 2009 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  5. Brian

    Just because you have people who do not want to serve in a cabinet because they have differing opinions is not a reason to back out. President Obama selected people for his cabinet with a wide range of opinions in order to avoid the "cookie cutter" decision making of our previous president. Kudos to President Obama and shame on Senator Gregg for backing out because he felt "uncomfortable" with having a difference of opinions.

    February 13, 2009 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  6. Duke

    Obama wants to play bi-partisan and the Republicans are saying stick it, plain and simple. With the Republicans it is party first, country 2nd, no 3rd after personal greed. Then they sell the American people on judging politicians by whether they have a flag pin or not.

    I hope the American people see through this and relegate the Republican party to the trash bin in the 2010 mid term elections. Even after their beatdown in the last election they are still peddling the same stuff that put us where we are today. Amazing. Still playing games.

    February 13, 2009 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  7. Dutch/Hampton Roads, VA

    This was nothing but a political stunt by Sen. Gregg and his GOP buddies. Now they have v-day cards stating this V-day card wasnt vetted. While the republicans are busy playing political posturing and the politcs of old, the American People have our eyes on these guys. We will not forget this crisis that we're in and what they did during it. Carry on GOP.

    February 13, 2009 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  8. Holly 65

    Good point independent_me.

    February 13, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  9. renee

    wat is wrong with u pple n polls
    what is wrong with america? we hav bigger n more painful problems than obama's cabinet picks. someone out there is about to lose their job n we'r here squabblin about what the polls says

    by the way, polls are only estimates and are not 100% accurate.

    February 13, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  10. yuri

    Even if Obama picks another GOP for the cabinet posts, the other rank and file from the same GOP will, sure as heck, send the candidate to torture chamber, and water board him or her, until he or she opts out.

    The venom spewed by the GOP in the form of several obstructions to the bill is very palpable. Seemingly, these bozos are determined to oppose everything that Obama proposes, in the name their ideology, but NOT in the interest of the people.

    February 13, 2009 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  11. D. Kisting

    It's just ridiculous to make judgements in such a short time. For God's sake, let the president get grounded for at least 6 months. A lot of problems stem from instant gratification. That's why we're in this mess.

    D. Kisting

    February 13, 2009 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  12. JSU-TIGER99

    he is doing a great job of picking the Cabinet member, they need to be up front when they are asking to take the job, they know if they can or can't do it don't yes and within the next hour you say no. They all need to just get on the board and work with him because he is not going any where until 2016 so just get on board.

    February 13, 2009 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  13. Rone

    Do not expect the Republicans to support Obama, they did not want him in office so of course they are going to be SUPER critical of the least thing that he does. They want him to fail! He said that he was going to do things differently and that's exactly what he's doing.

    February 13, 2009 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  14. Part of th 61%

    Obama's problems with his cabinet selection say more about what is wrong with Washington than wrong with Obama. His new strict ethics rules are filtering out some who would hav made it through under the old system. It is like putting a new filter on your pool and then noticing the dirt it filters out. Is it the fault of the filter that the water needed filtering? No It would be like the nuke plant worker complaining that we've had way too much radiation since we got the gieger counter fixed.

    We will find more violations because we are looking for them. Plain and simple. The real test of the cabinet is how they behave once they are in. ei Rumsfeld,Gonzolas, Brown(the Katrina guy). Hopefully with the ethics so high for getting in they will do better once on the job.

    February 13, 2009 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  15. Brian

    I don't think the spineless senator from NH, Judd Gregg, should reflect upon Obama. It should reflect upon the GOP who has now fully become the obstructionist party in Washington. The American people are looking for leadership and solutions, and they are once again putting their careers and party before our interests. Good riddance to Mr. Gregg... he would have had a strong voice in a new administration as chosen overwhelmingly by the American people, but instead he has made the ideological commitment to obstructionism based on pressure from his pathetic party.

    This is disgusting Washington politics as usual for the GOP, but Obama will overcome it because, as usual, he will take the high road and put the people first.

    February 13, 2009 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  16. Lynn

    Suzannne: Well said!

    February 13, 2009 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  17. Wanda

    I THINK THE WHOLE THING STINKS TO HIGH HEAVEN - TOSSING OUT HE WON'T RUN IN SENATE WHEN TERM IS UP - WHAT IS 'UP' IS SOMETHING IN HIS DARK AND MYSTERIOUS PAST!!!!!!!!!!!
    CNN GO DIG IT UP - PLEASE GO DIG.DIG.DIG..............................

    February 13, 2009 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  18. GIVE ME A BREAK

    HOW MANY PEOPLE EVEN KNOW THE NAMES OF FORMER CABINET MEMBERS UNDER BUSH OR ANY OTHER PRESIDENT WITH THE EXCEPTION OF CONDI RICE, COLIN POWELL OF RUMSFELD? GIVE ME A BREAK!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 13, 2009 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  19. GStreet

    The selection of anyone for a leadership position is always a hard task. I would much rather have people back away from a nomination than have them confirmed and become ineffective because of baggage they bring to the office. It is easier to deal with them before they are confirmed, than remove them after.

    February 13, 2009 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  20. suzyku

    The headline of this stupid article is tabloid journalism again from CNN! Obama has wonderfully high approval ratings and frankly I wish he'd just stop trying to appoint anymore rethugs to his cabinet! The republicans are all bad news, for Obama and for this country. They are puppets and have a "follow the herd" mentality, they have become the party of hopelessness and negativity and they are a small minded group of people with bad ideologies that are stuck in the past! They have no desire to be bi partisan, all they can do is say no, they are more interested in their bad policies and their own petty minded careers than in this country! The approval ratings show that the majority of this country give President Obama high marks for attempting to reach out and the rethugs get low marks for being putz'

    February 13, 2009 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  21. Lilarose in Bandon, Oregon

    Lies by omission are what are plaguing Obama.

    His choices are not telling him the truth about their personal situations.

    I hope that Obama stops appointing political people and goes to the private sector/business/professional world to find people who are qualified for Health and Human Services and Commerce Secretary.

    He needs to stay far away from politicians for these positions.

    February 13, 2009 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  22. jenn

    Honest to God, a mere 61% approval rating is a sign of trouble? Do you people at CNN understand math? That's a "majority." It may be less spectacular than Obama's other ratings, but "less spectacular" is not a "weakness." The media's pathological need for controversy (real or manufactured) is tiresome.

    And as for posters like TCM...you are showing your ignorance, starting with your total lack of comprehension about the ACORN situation. Not a single voter was wrongly registered by ACORN. As they are required by law to do, they turned in every application they received to the local election authority. The BIPARTISAN election authorities then verified or rejected each application. Obviously the invalid applications were rejected. I know it must be hard to deal with the fact that the majority of Americans like Barack Obama, but that's life. Try talking to people outside your little dittohead bubble sometime!

    February 13, 2009 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  23. Thomas Paine

    I like to see a poll that asks: Do you think the media looks for ways to create controversy in order to boost ratings?
    My vote: Yes

    February 13, 2009 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  24. Lush Limprick, the real head of the RNC

    A lot of administrations do not have a full cabinet until months into the process. President Obama's has been in office less than a month. He is doing a fine job on all fronts.

    Unless, you only adhere to the Lush agenda of making sure "Obama fails".

    February 13, 2009 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  25. Obama 2.0

    President Obama,

    The Nation & the World has watched you stretch your hand out to the Republicans to establish bipartisan relations, only to be slapped back and ridiculed by their bulk, some of which who have claimed the mantra of reaching across the isle themselves. And at the same time, many of those to the left of you refuse to turn the other cheek for fear that it continues to get slapped.

    What you are doing is part of the mandate that America has set fourth and not necessarily pleasing to the Right or the Left. It is not a new battle but one that has turned swords of every medium into plow shares. Many throughout mankind's history have proclaimed the power in unity and contrastingly the consequences when it is deficient or lacking all together.

    The commitment of this country and it's constitution is based on unity, as in "The United States of America." I am one grain of sand out of millions on the shores of this blessed land, and I say to you, do not loose heart, keep the faith, keep on keeping on, lest you become like them. You are re-sculpting what once was precious to us and over time has been worn and destroyed, take the time needed to re-sculpt the unity that will ultimately change the world for the better, but never, ever stop doing it.

    February 13, 2009 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
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