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. Carrie

    Need I remind you of George W. Bush's dismal poll numbers, people?

    February 13, 2009 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  2. Sniffit

    @ PAula from PA

    Not only did he just happen to withdraw from the nomination after meeting with the GOP leaders, but he just happened to meet with GOP leaders on a day when it was announced that Kennedy woul dnot be present to vote due to his illness. 2 + 2 = 4.

    February 13, 2009 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  3. jaye

    The repubs have made it clear that they have no intentions of working woth our new president.
    Proves to me they're more interested in grandstanding than in helping our country.
    They're a disgusting bunch.

    February 13, 2009 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  4. Katy

    One word for President Obama, pick Normal / smart / intelligent people for your cabinet, instead picking idiots GOP .. stop being nice and you must being tough.. and worth of my vote. I & many others put you into WH not for being nice to those GOP & Dem Idiots.

    Reach out the real word and recruit talent from a pool of American. Not Washington & Wall Street, please.

    February 13, 2009 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  5. Ken

    This is brilliant: Obama's lowest approval rating (on his cabinet) is 3 times LARGER than Bush's approval rating when he left office. And this is a problem for Obama?!!!

    Mr. Obama: When your "problem" is 3 times better than the other guy's "best", you know you're in good shape. Another thing that tells me you're on the right path is that the same pitiful 30% that actually approved of Bush on his way out, now disapprove of you — if that isn't a sign of success, I don't know what is.

    Then there are the rightwing half-wits that come on here and continue to defend the [R] way, like how Gregg's fellow [R]s took him to the woodshed to diffuse any momentum towards bi-partisanship. There are plenty of you rightwing meatheads out there that agree with this [R] approach to politics. I hope the rest of the country sees it for what it is, much like they did this past Nov. If the country has any brains, the [D]s should be looking at 80 senators after 2010.

    And to listen to the drivel from the neo-nitwits who call in to C-SPAN — its like somebody put microphones in a monkey cage. They don't have their history right, they don't have their facts straight, they can't even make their own fairytales self-consistent, and now many of them don't have jobs….yet they quote the Limbaugh talking points like they were reciting bible verses…the very ideology which has cost them their jobs!!!!!! My 13 year old has a better grip on reality than these boneheads. To be an adult American, and be so utterly clueless should be a crime.

    February 13, 2009 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  6. Audrey

    Judd Gregg asked to be considered for this job and now all of a sudden he has decided to back out. That is not by any means the fault of the Obama Administration and it's vetting process.

    These die-hard Republicans are trying with all their might to make the President look bad. How stupid do they think we are that we can't see right through their dirty tricks.

    They don't realize that they are digging their own "Political Graves". 2010 and 2012 all of those idiots that refused to cooperate will be booted out. They forgot that We the People have the Power of the Vote!!!

    February 13, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  7. hello

    VOTERS DO YOU MEAN YOU WILL CONSIDER HIM A STRONG LEADER IF HE SHOWS DOOR TO ALL REPUBLICAN?
    I THINK INSTEAD OF SUPPORTING HIM YOU ARE BACK STABBING HIM.

    February 13, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  8. neo

    why do we care if 38% don't like Obama's picks. I think a good 30% are going to hate him no matter what he does.

    February 13, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  9. America

    What are the things that need attention the most, well besides the housing market. I'll tell you, commerce as well as health & human services. What is Obama having a problem filling jobs for, both these things, I smell a GoPee RAT......

    The Grand Obstructionist party is doing all it can, to destroy Obama along with america, thanks, america is watching and waiting 2010 is just around the corner!

    February 13, 2009 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  10. Mike

    lets see.. cnn did not post my brilliant post yesterday.. so let us try this again.. eh...

    the following was posted above.. let me see if I an be clearer!

    S.Willey February 13th, 2009 2:22 pm ET

    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?

    You guys love to speak of socialism. Let me ask you a question. What do you term allowing an unregulated free market that makes 8 Trillion (yes that is Trillion with a capital "T") vanish in to thin air??? Not to speak of nearly 7 or 8 Trillion more in a projected surplus before you guys started running the show 8 years ago??? Cap it off with nearly 56 Trillion in a shadow market of default swaps and God knows what else???

    My term for it ! = bankrupted ideas

    February 13, 2009 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  11. Jeff from Jersey

    That's what he gets for democrat Daschle and Republican Gregg.Daschle in particular since his tax problem was well known in Washington even before being picked.The only problem with Gregg was the President was trying to be an inclusive government but the republicans are so rigid about their lousy agenda that they can't even work with themselves,let alone work for a Democratic president that is trying to pick up the pieces after the Republicans destroyed everything for 8 long years.

    I just LOVE how republicans are economic geniuses all of a sudden.Where was this vast fountain of experience for the past 8 years?The rest of us aren't ever going to forget thst it was THEM that destroyed our economy in the first place.

    You want numbers?

    Republicans:8 years.8% unemployment,and a big fat ZERO for their economic expertise.
    Go home and play with your calculator some more.We'd LOVE to see what numbers you republican "experts" can come back with tomorrow!

    February 13, 2009 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  12. Karen- Change is coming

    President Obama is doing a excellent job in such a short time...

    To All the Negative People: What the hell did the past administration do in 8 years? NADDA! I'm sick all of the Republican Right wingers who obviously want this President to fell.. What we all can do is make it a 60 count seat in 2010. Honestly, lets get the Republicans out of the Senate because they drove this country in the ground by only looking out for the wealthy.

    February 13, 2009 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  13. Karen- Change is coming

    President Obama is doing a excellent job in such a short time...

    To All the Negative People: What the hell did the past administration do in 8 years? NADDA! I'm sick all of the Republican Right wingers who obviously want this President to fell.. What we all can do is make it a 60 count seat in 2010. Honestly, lets get the Republicans out of the Senate because they drove this country in the ground by only looking out for the wealthy.

    Lets get on board and behind our new President who can put a sentence together when he speaks. UNREAL

    February 13, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  14. Randy

    Jim February 13th, 2009 2:40 pm ET

    THE GREASTEST PRESIDENT EVER!!!!! Hands down. Makes Jefferson look like a dim wit, Lincoln couldn't complete a sentence compared to our magical POTUS, FDR doesn't know the meaning of hope compared to BO. He's also the greatest war time leader ever. Makes George Washington and Ike look like amateurs. Thank God we have him for 7 years and 49 weeks more. Or should I say Thank Obama

    Your an idiot. ut I guess that is what happans when you are as old as you. Must be tough living today then it was durning Lincoln's day. BTW BO's BFF is Lincoln.

    February 13, 2009 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  15. Just Say No to Socialism

    Senator Gregg had padi all of his taxes and has never been a lobbyist so he wasnt going to fit into the Obama for change team.

    February 13, 2009 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  16. Connie

    When will the man quit campaigning. good god he has the job all he is doing now is trying to brainwash the American people to believe in this stupid stimulas package-that will make dog parks, 30 million to go to Ca for trying to keep some mice alive and some work on golf courses and 440 milliton for STD cases (keep your legs together) that is my cure and the working people will only see $13 extra in their paycheck a wk come june while the people who don't work get more food stamps, welfare money and more on health benefits. I was taught loose lips sink ships-he keeps talking so he must be lying.

    February 13, 2009 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  17. tomiwa

    At least the vetting process no matter how imperfect it is, exposes all these people before they enter fully into office.

    Do you guys know how many would have been incapable to serve in bush's cabinet if this same process was used. That includes george bush himself.

    The GOP should grow up, they are just sore losers looking for everyway to discredit the president. If he did not invite any of them to his administration they will be the first to also critisize him.

    Petty politicking!!!!!

    February 13, 2009 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  18. No Ones Home Boy

    Let's face the far left got to him...

    February 13, 2009 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  19. Ray Fisher, Albuquerque, NM

    We simply need to get the government running again. After 8 long years of inept buffoons we finally get a new administration only to get bogged down by the stimulus fight and quirky cabinet picks. We need to get all government gencies moving again which will aid our ability to recover. Things like FDA inspections, FTC complaints, CDC guidlines, EPA improvements, CAFE standards, etc... all these items are languishing under the stimulus cloud!!!

    February 13, 2009 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  20. No Ones Home Boy

    And ominously, so did the far right...

    February 13, 2009 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  21. Alan

    It's tough when you TRY to put together a cabinet that's bipartisan and the other side refuses to play. Just like the stimulus bill - he'll try for a while, then it's on to putting in someone willing to work with him and the party of opposition - the GOP - will wind up looking even MORE foolish when this brilliant man starts making things happen.

    This isn't just lip service. Those who are crying out INEXPERIENCE fail to realize we HAD "experience" for eight years. I'll take a less-experienced genus over an experienced IDIOT any day.

    February 13, 2009 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  22. Mike

    Comments are moderated by CNN, in accordance with the CNN Comment Policy, and may not appear on this blog until they have been reviewed and deemed appropriate for posting. Also, due to the volume of comments we receive, not all comments will be posted.

    you got to be joking ... right?

    lets see.. cnn did not post my brilliant post yesterday.. so let us try this again.. eh...

    the following was posted above.. let me see if I can be clearer!

    S.Willey February 13th, 2009 2:22 pm ET

    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?

    You guys love to speak of socialism. Let me ask you a question. What do you term allowing an unregulated free market that makes 8 Trillion (yes that is Trillion with a capital "T") vanish in to thin air??? Not to speak of nearly 7 or 8 Trillion more in a projected surplus before you guys started running the show 8 years ago??? Cap it off with nearly 56 Trillion in a shadow market of default swaps and God knows what else???

    My term for it ! = bankrupted ideas

    February 13, 2009 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  23. Johnny DC

    All of those poll responses taken were from well-informed sources, right? So shocking that the numbers are all right around the same 60-70% figure that you'd expect. Just like how all the people that voted for him did it because they are familiar with his policy, right? Right.

    Bottom line is the majority of those 60% have no clue what he has or hasn't done in his first month, nor do they have a clue what he plans to do. They voted for him to make history and succeeded in doing so.

    Why do we keep polling the general public when they vote and think so superficially? Poll college professors, historians, economic leaders. Poll international figures. Stop polling dumb biased Americans who are so entrenched in their ideologies that they can't even fathom thinking about the question before answering.

    February 13, 2009 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  24. Matthew, Detroit

    What reason is their to pull the Census from Commerce and have the White House take it over.

    No other president has done it, why does Barack.

    February 13, 2009 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  25. mary, colorado

    This boob begged for the job and after President Obam gave it to him, now he doesn't want it. What a maroon!

    February 13, 2009 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
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