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. matt b

    I can't remember a time when the opposition party went so far as to sabatage the establishment of a cohesive administration. What a circus act.

    February 13, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  2. JJ12345

    MNP February 13th, 2009 12:03 pm ET

    C'mon people. This President was left a HUGE mess to clean up. It's only been a month he's been in office. Meanwhile, the republicans (most of them) aren't trying to embrace bipartisanship one bit. If there's someone to point fingers at, it should be the majority of republicans.
    ___________________________________________________
    Why is it then if the democrats are so bipartisian that the republicians were not allowed to offer amendments to the house stimulus bill. Why did the white house take the census the day after Gregg accepted the post.......Both sides are partisian, it is mostly lip service.

    February 13, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  3. Ula Nejad Sacramento, Ca

    The obama administration is a reflection of the American people. Nov 4th, universal sufferage spoke. What purpose does this poll serve? This why we need people like Rush to break the votes down for people who are naive. 90% black voted for Obama. I see only two halves so far in his cabinet while majority are whites. The American people chose 'Change ' and inexperience over experience and Confidence. The people(53% who voted for Obama ) are responisble for all of Obama's screw up too. So far republicans have been generous enough to give him free advice on the internet but arrogantly tells Blair that he should be told what he needs to hear not what he wants to hear. Well take this...screw...!

    February 13, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  4. Sue in MI

    Will Republicans never give up on including ACORN and socialism and Muslim in any post about Obama? If you actually read the Newsweek article, it states that Bush was the one doling out socialism the past 8 years. Yes, your beloved Bush, the war criminal.
    Republicans aren't standing by Obama because they are Republicans, plain and simple. It wouldn't matter if he were the reincarnation of Reagan, they would refuse to support him. The whole party is terrified of him actually succeeding, and their party going away. They are terrified that if they support him, they become even more irrelevant than they are now.
    Instead of wanting the best for the country, which, in the long run, makes everyone popular, they'd rather play semantic games and strut around as if they had nothing to do with the failed policies of GWB, or that they don't have a clue what to do either, but because Democrats want it, it must be evil.

    February 13, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  5. Jackie in Dallas

    Picking the right Cabinet members is like picking the attendants at a wedding: the chemistry has to work, and the focus should be on the main characters (in this case President Obama as the groom, the US as the bride). I like a lot of the staff and Cabinet President Obama has selected, and it isn't unusual to have some faux pas in the process. At least a lot of the crucial players are in place.

    Oddly, I think the main problem is also the strength of situation. President Obama is searching for strong people, people not just from his own party and in his comfort zone. He's looking to hear different takes on the situations that arise, and that will give him varying ideas and opinions. That's good for his decision making, but difficult to get in the right mix. Remembering that it took both President Clinton and President Bush more than three MONTHS to fill all those slots, and they still had turnover during their terms in office, the fact that President Obama has already got the major part of his slots filled and approved is quite indicative of his ability to organize.

    I think it is time for the media, and the people of this country, to cut just a little slack for our new President. The job he took on is a lot more complex than the one he was running for, due to the economic meltdown globally. The stimulus package and the problems inside this country are not just ours, they affect people globally. It may mean he actually should slow down just a little and consider the affects of what he has done so far.

    February 13, 2009 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  6. Rex

    He just penned legislation that will spend 20 million to bring Palestinian refugees to the United States. You are telling me 68% of Americans are O.K. with this?

    This poll indicates one or more of the following:
    1. The Media is doing a great job, Americans are well informed; however, they are also terribly stupid or suicidal.

    2. The Media is doing a terrible if (not criminal) job of getting the facts to the people.

    3. Obama and Americans are deeply religious and feel the need to speed up the apocalypse by growing their own suicide bombers right here so they can reach Heaven sooner.

    4 The Democrats and the Media are so thirsty to push this last bastion of freedom into the abyss of communism, that they will pave the way for the progenitors of suicide bombers to administer their craft here on our shores.

    Oh yah # 5. I am a red neck who needs P.C. training. (remember you thought this the next time something goes BOOM!!!! )
    (So I can say told ya so.)

    February 13, 2009 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  7. gg

    it took cheney 4and ahalf years and bush 3 and ahaif years to get the country in the mess its in its going to take pres. obama a while to get it back on track so much for trikle down

    February 13, 2009 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  8. Portland, OR

    Since when did bipartisanship mean, "come over to my side"? That seems to be what Democrats expect Republicans to do (and visa versa). Bipartisanship means compromising sometimes and, hopefully, consensus once in a while. Politicans and every day people like you and I all seem to have come to the conclusion that we have to agree on everything in order to work together. It's simply not true. It's this "us vs. them" attitude that's one of the biggest problems in this country and both sides are to blame.

    February 13, 2009 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  9. Ula Nejad Sacramento, Ca

    The obama administration is a reflection of the American people. Nov 4th, universal sufferage spoke. What purpose does this poll serve? This why we need people like Rush to break the votes down for people who are naive. 90% black voted for Obama. I see only two halves so far in his cabinet while majority are whites. The American people chose 'Change ' and inexperience over experience and Confidence. The people(53% who voted for Obama ) are responisble for all of Obama's screw up too. So far republicans have been generous enough to give him free advice on the internet for Valentine but arrogantly tells Blair that he should be told what he needs to hear not what he wants to hear. Well take this...screw...!

    February 13, 2009 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  10. Casey

    OMG. I don't remember this much scrutiny for Bush during his first 6 months! We are entering a Depression people! Let's focus!!

    February 13, 2009 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  11. Tom

    Congrats to America! America deserves a better one who can shoulder the great responsibilities facing this country. America needs independent thinkers not followers of dead ideology in this period.

    February 13, 2009 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  12. joseph

    I believe what the real problem is, is that we have a real president now and, folks will not be able to get away with stuff they use to because, nobody was watching. Times have changed and the truth is coming out, this president is serious and are going to take care of business. See, I believe they are giving him a hard time because, they don't want the truth revealed on themselves. Obama said it right, he walked into this deficit, he didn't create it. People are making it seem like he is doing all the wrong things but I will say this, for a person to stand up and say they made a mistake instead of trying to keep it hid, deserves all the respect and support from the American people, it should show folks that this guy isn't to prideful to say he is wrong or made a mistake. I will take honesty and humbleness over the Good Ole' Country Bot syndrome any day!

    February 13, 2009 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  13. SamofCarolina

    @TCM..hahahaha...good one.

    @CNN Title for the Article...Bad one..i mean, every poll is still good after you have spent two weeks trying to bring the man down...

    February 13, 2009 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  14. Sniffit

    Gregg was a plant. They were hoping to sneak in some control over the 2010 Census but Obama wasn't stupid enough to let them, so Gregg backed out and the GOP spin machine is trying to turn it into Obama's mistake. Nothing in DC is more transparent than the Republicans' silly games. What's amazing is that they just mindlessly keep repeating what they want their minions to believe and the minions dutifully regurgitate it...all without realizing that it does not work on the majority of the country anymore. Check the scoreboard guys.

    February 13, 2009 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  15. Jackie

    And again I ask...who and how are we going to pay back the 789,000,000,000,000...I know if I didn't have any money, I couldn't -wouldn't spend more to stimulate my household. It would cause more of a disaster in the homefront. But I forgot, the gov has our resourses to pay for some of the DEMS lame projects. I have no resources, so I do the responsible thing...quit spending.

    So being said, why do the DEMS think it's OK to spend other peoples money for paybacks and pet projects...totally irresponsible.

    February 13, 2009 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  16. John

    I would like to thank the current administration for pushing through a stimulus package the will have zero effect on me. As a working American living paycheck-to-paycheck this stimulus package will do nothing to improve my quality of life. Myself along with many other vets rely on the VA for our medical care. Now that is in jeopardy because of the funding cuts. I can't wait for Obama and his 3 ring circus to be run out of town in 4 years. I just hope that we have a country left by then.

    February 13, 2009 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  17. Jackie in Dallas

    Glennis,

    You obviously weren't watching either President Bush's or President Clinton's Cabinet building. Obama is a master builder compared to those three!

    February 13, 2009 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  18. Pamela

    I commend Obama for attempting to find potential cabinet appointees by looking at their experience and areas of expertise.
    There is always the chance that an appointee might not fit the bill.

    Our former president filled his positions by selecting those he owed favors to!

    February 13, 2009 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  19. Robert

    Another right wing "wuss". No backbone when it comes to what is good for the country vs. his party. I didn't question his motives before but I am greatful he is enough of party yes man to at least not done more damage than create this stupid debate.

    February 13, 2009 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  20. ranjit

    Guys, it is just a simple distraction. No matter how many times, something happens with these nominations, it is not obama's mistake. It is always the nominee's mistake. So much for the smooth transition? I can become good commerce secretary. I did not know that, we have so much problem finding a right guy for commerce secretary. Any one remember Jimmy Carter? Dejavu all over again

    February 13, 2009 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  21. Dave

    How can we possibly say things are going great with the economy. We are bailing out mistakes with money we don't have!

    February 13, 2009 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  22. RLE

    Republicans and their supporters never cease to amaxe me they would rather the country fail then have President Obama fix; vote these idiots out 2010 so we can get soem things done in this country. All of you complaining about the bill are just like the republicans ; know how to complain but do not know how to develop a plan/solution. President Obama has done more good for the country in four weeks then most of these repubs have done throughout their entire career.

    February 13, 2009 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  23. BJ

    What's interesting is from this poll of bloggers it seems more like President Obama has a 90% approval.

    Interesting.

    February 13, 2009 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  24. Douglas Ford

    I wish the republicans on capital hill would get in there with susan and spectre, and start talking out differences and coming up with ideas of their own instead of saying i refuse to do anything involving this bill the economy will fix itself. People are ignorant when they have the fat salaries that they get up on capital hill, I mean look at Bush's response when he talked about the price of gas last year, it was such a laugh.

    February 13, 2009 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  25. Mike

    Too much too early......thats what Americans are demanding.....and the biggest hurdle Mr. President got right now is the corrupt senators who are pro special interest and large corporations, with big fat belies which are far from being filled. That is why they have a clear opposition to the money allocated for the actual needy people. Here's what a Republican Senator is thinking right now "789 Bill dollars, how can i get my cut, lets oppose it for now, and set the right price for my vote!!!"

    Its simple guys, no rocket science....by the time Obama will end up buying the votes in Senate all the money will be finished.....this is how politics works...even if Obama wants to do some good....Senators will not let him..our Senate is corrupt lets admit it! ...so Good Luck Barrack you will need it big time....

    February 13, 2009 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
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