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. Conner

    Like Obama cares about the 'common man/woman' Whatever! Wake up people!!

    Pushing dog parks when people are without a job or home. What a horrible joke!

    February 13, 2009 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  2. john

    What did you expect from a guy with no prior executive branch experience at any level being handed the presidency after serving less than 1 term in office as a senator. You can't wing it Obama. If you don't have a clue selecting the team how you do have a clue when calling the plays. He might be a great speaker, but were not getting details of how he will fix anything. They spend a lot of time worrying about Republicans and Rush Limbaugh. If Obama had confidence in his plan he would say here it is and if it doesn't work fire me in four years.

    February 13, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  3. jk

    Poll: Polls show Americans intelligence being insulted!

    February 13, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  4. Stop The Madness

    The change that President Obama promised during his campaigning for the White House will not be a reality until the Democratic Party puts the breaks on Nancy Pelosi. She has been the biggest Instigator that has caused probably the most bipartisanship between the two parties. Oboma speaks of change within the house and the Senate, if you ask me they should lead by example and the rest will follow.

    February 13, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  5. Rick

    MAD, I don't think anyone us have given all the former Presidents the opportunity you suggest hasn't been given to Obama. For one, I doubt any of us were even around much before Woodrow Wilson.

    Second, you made the same mistake Obama made about a minute into his Presidency. He's only the 43rd person ever to hold that office.

    February 13, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  6. jp,michigan

    When you don't take the time to properly check a person out , you make mistakes. The President was in to big a rush to have all his men and women in place before taking office, well thats how mistakes are developed and the wrong person choosen.

    February 13, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  7. ASB

    Perhaps the President should consider appointing a less visible Republican for Commerce Secretary, if his main goal is to bridge the partisan divide. I have a good Republican in mind, one with topnotch executive experience as a former governor and long-time state auditor: Former Governor Arne Carlson of Minnesota. Arne, however, is hated by the party's rightwing for his liberal stance on social issues. But he remains a Republican, though the party has kept him on the sidelines (and he'll be on the sidelines perhaps forever, especially because he endorsed Obama in 2008!). But..."bipartisanship" doesn't mean El Presidente has to appoint a rightwinger to his cabinet to give it a "bipartisan" face. Mr. President, if you're reading this – please consider Mr. Arne Carlson. I'm serious, too!

    February 13, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  8. Djn

    Obamas poll numbers are significantly higher at CNN than all other polling shows!! Go to Real Clear politics.com polls to see the averages of all polls that have been taken. CNN wants to spin all stories to a liberial view point.

    February 13, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  9. Greg Pottstown, Pa.

    The truth is that Obama did NOT do a bad job picking cabinet members. His aids DID. If you think Obama vetted people personally your crazy. He has his hands full as it is. Obama is probably mad as heck with his aids over this. Gregg made a good choice. If he can't be part of Obama's solution then he is just in the way.

    February 13, 2009 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  10. revson

    What we are seeing is that Obama talks it up good but backs his words with half hearted actions at best and I won't even get into his oppointee flops (three in a row)!
    He claims to do his homework but his actions show someone who has no idea what his people are doing behind him ( talk to he head of Caterpillar...OOPS!) and someone who himself has no idea what needs to be done other than what comes from another prepared speech.
    He is well intentioned but needs to back off the parties and photo shoots and get to work himself and do his homework, he's looking like a Bungling Bush after only three weeks!

    February 13, 2009 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  11. Mike

    Obama's mistake was to reach out to the republicans at all.They certainly didn't reach out to the opposition during their reign of power. It's become obvious that the republicans are going to sit in opposition of the white house no matter what in the hopes that our country slides further into crisis so that they have better chance to regain the presidency in 2012. As an indpendent I can't see any way I can vote for the reublicans again in the future. Their party is rediculous and is quickly becomming irrelevant.

    February 13, 2009 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  12. REG in AZ

    This whole article reads like it is being stated with 'tongue in cheek'. It compliments the size of the support and then says it is a weakness. It gets really tiring to keep hearing criticisms of Obama that are more creative than with substance.

    February 13, 2009 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  13. Matthew, Detroit

    Hey Dems I have a question for you.

    Why is Barack trying to steal the census?

    Give me a reason please.

    February 13, 2009 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  14. Daniel

    So every one can be happy , why not bring back BUSH as Secretary of Commerce. This way all a..s h...s are happy.

    February 13, 2009 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  15. John

    Clearly, a 76% approval was not sustainable. As soon as a chief executive makes decisions, some people won't approve and approval ratings will fall.

    Unfortunately, so much of the discussion around our current problems is Democrat vs Republican. The American people have been grossly ill served by both parties. Monied interests have significantly corrupted our politics-perhaps to a level not seen previously in our history. Gaining and maintaing power is the priority for our politicians – and the country suffers because of it.

    Obama came into office largely because of a rejection of 8 years of Bush(53% is hardly a landslide)....and Bush(a terrible campaigner) came into office largely because of a rejection/fatigue with Clinton. Obama's campaign strategy of hope and change without much detail was both deliberate and masterful.

    The important question is whether the great campaigner can(Obama) become the leader we need in these difficult times. Much too early to call.

    February 13, 2009 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  16. Phil

    One tax cheat gets a post. The other tax cheat steps down. The 3rd person(the bi-partisan choice) Obama is set to stab in the back by taking away the census from that post's list of duties and turn it into a partisan affair. I definitely would say Obama isn't doing the best at the moment when it comes to his cabinet.

    February 13, 2009 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  17. Timus

    Wow! This is not really even a story is it. It's like drummed up news. If the worst thing that you can say is that 61% of folks think he picked bad cabinet picks that's still pretty good numbers!!

    February 13, 2009 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  18. Really CNN

    The first hour in the oval office you seemed to think the war should be ended ,everyone would have a home,food and a job so the ones writing this crap are the losers .
    No matter what the situation they turn the words around to make it sound as if Obama is the fault , he is falling ,failing what ever word they can dream up.
    Why blame President Obama it took 8 years of that Bushwacker and the well oiled Dick scammer to put the country in this mess and all the while the Republicans to the day Bushwacker left the white house thought he was doing a great job .
    Obama we are behind you all the way and for 2012

    February 13, 2009 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  19. TyWebb

    Joan – Let's spell "parties" correctly, first.

    February 13, 2009 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  20. Griff

    Most of America believe in "Loose Change"... That is just about the only Change they will get....

    February 13, 2009 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  21. Angie in Pa

    President Obama Back away from the Republicans Sir,They are not Trust worthy! they will stop at nothing to try and destory you they are slimeballs they are not worth your time.

    February 13, 2009 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  22. Matt

    Typical politics, who really cares. Obama is a political animal just like the rest of them in office. He needed a Republican toy to show off to the media and then when he became aware that he might be giving too much power to his toy he pulled the plug. Not surprising that Gregg would jump ship when he was informed that the job he got hired for was no longer his, but he could keep the title.

    Obama is clearly a guy that wants everything to go his way. He has and will continue to fight both parties because of this. In the end it won't matter. History has proven a million times over we could put squirrels in office and the country would recover.

    February 13, 2009 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  23. lolo

    anybody know what look like south side chicago ? even the cops scary go there

    February 13, 2009 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  24. Franky

    "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."

    Dude, I don't wanna pick on you guys but since you guys are comparing this to the overall rating, make sure next time you interview over 1200 people next time, O.K? Hey, that's your poll last time and if I'm correct, that poll was how he's handling job, not his mistakes and quite frankly this is a blue print of not how powerful he is, but how balance he is. Listen, you think people remember when we invaded Iraq compared to Bush cabinet picks? I got papers, I got papers, LOL!!

    February 13, 2009 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  25. what the heck

    Mike in Houston: What in the heck are we in now??? A prosperous nation?

    February 13, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
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