February 20th, 2009
12:20 PM ET
9 years ago

Obama approval rating drops, but still high

A new national poll indicates that two out of three Americans approve of the way Barack Obama is handling his job as president of the United States.

A new national poll indicates that two out of three Americans approve of the way Barack Obama is handling his job as president of the United States.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - A new national poll indicates that two out of three Americans approve of the way Barack Obama is handling his job as president of the United States.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey, released Friday, also suggests that six in 10 support the economic stimulus package that Obama signed into law Tuesday.

Obama's approval rating stands at 67 percent in the new poll. That's down 9 points from the most recent previous CNN poll, which was conducted in early February. But a breakdown by party suggests that the drop doesn't mean that the new president is in serious trouble.

"Since nearly all of the decline came among Republicans, this doesn't indicate that the honeymoon is already over," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Among Democrats, Obama's approval went from 96 percent to 92 percent; among Republicans, it dropped from 50 percent in early February to 31 percent now."

Among Independents, the president's approval rating now stands at 61 percent, down 6 points from earlier in the month.

Sixty percent of those questioned in the poll favored the economic stimulus plan, with 39 percent opposing the package. The $787 billion law is designed to pump up the economy by increasing federal government spending, sending aid to states in fiscal trouble, and by cutting taxes.

Do Americans think the stimulus will work?

A slight majority, 53 percent, said the plan will improve economic conditions, while 44 percent said it won't help stimulate the economy. And only 31 percent of those questioned indicated the package will improve their own financial situation, with two out of three saying the stimulus won't help them personally.

"Americans often don't see a connection between big government programs and their own wallets," Holland said. "That's what makes the various bailout packages such a hard sell with the public, and why the White House might have felt that they needed to include tax cuts in the stimulus package."

Of those 53 percent who said the plan will work, 19 percent felt it will start improving the economy by the end of the year, with 16 percent saying it will make a difference by next year and another 18 percent feeling it will take longer than two years.

"It goes without saying that Democrats support the stimulus bill and Republicans oppose it," Holland added. "Nearly nine in 10 Democrats favored the plan while three-quarters of Republicans thought it was a bad idea."

Forty-nine percent said they think the passage of the economic stimulus plan was a major victory for President Obama, with 28 percent calling it a minor accomplishment and 22 percent indicating it was not a positive achievement.

The bill passed Congress less than four weeks after Obama took office. It passed the House of Representatives with no Republican support. In the Senate, three of the chamber's 41 Republicans backed the bill.

The survey's release comes one month after Obama's inauguration as president. Fifty-eight percent of those polled said Obama has so far met their expectations and another 16 percent suggested that he's exceeded their expectations. Nearly one in four said that the president has fallen short of what they expected.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll was conducted Wednesday and Thursday, with 1,046 people questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Filed under: Polls • President Obama
soundoff (281 Responses)
  1. NY republican

    Neiki – President Obama's own supporter have put him on such a high pedistel he won't be needing our help. the expectations placed on this poor man are nearly impossible.

    February 20, 2009 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  2. JT

    Mike, the only reason why Bush's rating was high for his first 2 years because of the attack on 9/11. That's when the American people stood strong together and believing that Bush was doing the right. After that first 2 years, Bush showed his true colors. I just wish that people can realize that President Obama is trying and working real hard to get this country turned around for the better. Like every other President before him, you have to give him time. He's not a magician or a mircle worker like a lot of people wants to believe he is.

    February 20, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  3. watching how racism still show out

    I find it amazing that the republicans can agree on nothing except that which isa against the new President the rest of the world has shown a measure of appreciation for his fresh ideas the only people who show any distast for him are our own the ones the rest of the world are watching act like sore loosers and racist who would think that in this age the entire party would hold fast against him as he reached out to them and even made changes in his bill to acommodate them they want to control it . That is no way to show co-operation to our nation and other nations

    February 20, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  4. gl, Pittsburgh

    The only thing that i think he did poorly was underestimating how much the republican party put party first and country last.

    I agree!

    February 20, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  5. Death of America by Obama

    obama is still trying to wing it and his followers are still stupid and blacccck.You can read what they post on cnn and know they are either very young and stupid or very blaccck and stupid.

    February 20, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  6. knowlege

    Forget what the Republicans say. They need to stop complaining and help President Obama out with solutions instead of being part of the problem. Their negative input hasn't done anything. They are only thinking about their party and not putting the country first, like they campaigned on. Such weasels!!

    February 20, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  7. Noah

    Of course his ratings will drop. As soon as he had to actually make a decision yes or no, rather than just voting "present," you knew alot of people were going to be angry. Just wait until after his first year when the stimulus money has done absolutely nothing to create jobs.

    February 20, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  8. southernman

    If everyone would do their part, then we wouldn't have time to point fingers at Pres. Obama. From taxpaying citizens to Wall Street Bankers, clean up around your front door, do what is right for you, that means not over extending your purse, fattening your wallet because of greed. Furthermore, if the "polls" stay at 53%, that means the people who voted for Pres. Obama still support him. Bottom line, deal with it, he is president of the United States until January 20, 2013 @ 11:59a.m. and I will support him until then and even beyond!

    February 20, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  9. Peggy - TX

    He is doing a great job to mediate the current economic melt down. He continues to inspire my confidence. I am so glad Obama is providing the leadership to direct the current large money expenditures rather then a Republican who would cut taxes for the very wealthy and rely on trickle down to help the vast majority of struggling Americans.

    February 20, 2009 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  10. boered1

    That is true, but since his opposition has not been converted to his way of thinking, this means that reaching across the aisle is now a broken promise. Put it on the list.


    Now this is is the "reasoning" of your average radical religious rightwing republican to paraphrase what the writer said "if he cannot force his opponents to agree with him in three weeks he has lied and broken his promise" Unfortunately bipartsianship requires BOTH SIDES (psst that is what the suffix bi means two) to meet and work through their differences and come to an agreement not one side forcing the other to capitulate. No wonder the radical religious rightwing has problems with this they do not understand it! Now we know why bush called himself the uniter he destroyed anyone who disagreed with him! yep that was bipartisianship the radical religious rightwing republican way... now we could try it the REAL way, but that would require the radical religious right republicans start listening to their constituents instead of rush and we know that will never happen!


    February 20, 2009 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  11. Ryanna

    I wonder that the GOP approval rating is ? Below 20% ??? Wait until they refuse the stimulus money for ideological reasons.... their ratings will go down even further.

    February 20, 2009 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  12. Irma in North Carolina

    I wish the republicans would just stay out of the news, if all they want to do is start republican. I hope this all reflects on them in 2010 and 2012. Of course in 2012 they will have a chance to vote for Sarah. If they keep acting like this i think by 2012 there wont be enough republicans left to vote in a republican for president. I for one was a republican and today am so proud to say I got my new voter registration card that states I am an indepented. So i hope and pray they loose more people from their party. They are the ones who will completely distroy this country.

    February 20, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  13. Pete

    Remember during the stimulus debate, the GOP screamed "fix the mortgage crisis first". Well, now they're opposing the mortgage fix and calling the people who lost their homes "losers".

    The RNC can't say that Obama isn't reaching across the aisle when they have already decided that they will oppose literally every one of his legislative initiatives.

    February 20, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |








    February 20, 2009 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  15. John M in CA

    As if Republicans hadn't already decided on a bad report card even before Jan 20th. Have a seat, conservatives, it's going to be a long eight years. (yes, eight).

    February 20, 2009 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  16. SpaceCat

    Obama proves that if you talk to the country like adults and don't demonize your opponents to score cheap political points like the Republicans do, you will be rewarded. Good for him. We're lucky to finally have a grownup in the White House.

    February 20, 2009 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  17. Drew

    Bipartisanship can be difficult when the other party doesn't cooperate. You can bring a horse to the water, but you can't make him drink, in other words. Obama more than did his job of bipartisanship by bringing the republicans to the water, but guess what, they didn't drink. During Bush's tenure as president, he didn't even try to be bipartisan by bringing Democrats to the water to even have a chance to drink. Bush was just his way or the highway and who cares what the democrats think. Thank God we at least have a president who cares that they have a part in expressing their opinion. So I don't even want to hear the Republicans whining about the lack of bipartisanship or even try to define what bipartisanship is after Bush's tenure of terror. Unfortunately, we had 8 years to try it Bush's way of tax cuts and we are now living in the proof of that not working. So when all the Republicans had to say was "tax cuts" like pushing an automatic button, guess what, history has proven them wrong and we aren't going to repeat that mistake. They need to go back to the drawing board and come up with an original, fresh solution that actually works instead of parroting Reagan from nearly 30 years ago. Now, it's time to try it with a combination of the Republican ideas of tax cuts and the Democratic ideas of government spending meshed into one as Obama has proposed and implemented. My guess is that it will combine the best of both Republican and Democratic worlds to create a true stimulus bill. Sounds like the Republicans that don't approve of the stimulus bill should not be accepting the money for their state. Isn't that the ethical thing to do if you disapprove of something? Hmmm, that should be 58 Republican senators and all of the Republicans in Congress. How many states do they represent? Would that mean even more money from the states with senators and congressman that do approve since they don't have to share it with states that have senators and congressman that don't approve? Perhaps we should try it that way and then 2 years later compare progress reports on the states that received stimulus versus ones that didn't? Or would that be political suicide for the Republicans? Hmmm....

    February 20, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  18. linda

    All you Obama worshippers had better start educating yourself on economics, government, global politics. Maybe then you would see the road we are going down towards a welfare republic and opening the country up to more danger. Start reading between the lines of the stimulus package and you will see its failures and where the pay backs are. Small business employs 80% of the working public.....excuse me Oh God Obama, where is their stimulus money? Pelosi, Frank and Clinton have all been a part of the downfall of our economy. I am so glad they saw the need to give stimulus money to the film industry and ACORN! That helps me alot. It doesn't take more than a month to see how this president will run us all right over with his agenda. Where are the americans of the 40's and 50's who knew personal responsibility and hard work ethics?

    February 20, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  19. boered1

    marie larke February 20th, 2009 12:34 pm ET

    He needs to get off Air Force 1 for a while, work in the office and start sounding a bit more upbeat about the future, he has been all about gloom and doom so far.

    so what you are saying is he should stop talking to the peoiple, deal with the estaqblishment in DC only, and LIE about the economy because the average person cannot handle the truth.

    me I think he is doing the right thing, talking and listening to ALL the people, not the DC inside the beltway bought and paid for lobbiest only, going out and meeting them across the country and seeing and hearing for himself their problems. As for the economy, I personally would rather be told the truth for a change, it IS bad, it WILL get worse so prepare yourself and do what you can to safeguard yourself and your families, we are however, working on the problem and things will turn around not today, not tomorrow but they will turn around. Treat me as an adult not a scared child you have to soothe but someone who is capable of understanding and facing reality.

    February 20, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  20. Indigo

    Sorry realityking, the only poll if you want to look at pollster.com that puts him below 60 is a Rasmussen poll and they could only get him to 59 being a republican poll. Sorry it's just your wishful thinking. Republicans won't support him, but haven't they heard they lost?

    February 20, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  21. John M in CA

    To Mike (12:41 pm):
    Bush was in the 70% approval after 9/11 when we were the most united this country has ever been, even despite how badly the country was divided when he wrestled his way into office in 2001 with the lesser popular vote.

    February 20, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  22. Jeffrey in Marietta, Georgia

    Let's compare. In the first year of the Bush presidency, a terrorist attack happened that caused all the Democrats to come over to his side. It became inappropriate to question the government no matter what happened, and people who gave moderate opinions were accused of being unpatriotic. It took eight years for people to realize that 9/11 was being used as an excuse.

    Now, Obama doesn't have a 9/11. What he does have is a media complex giving a disproportionate amount of time to RNC message multipliers. They've been telling us for weeks that the bailout won't work, that Obama's not bipartisan, that Obama is lying, when just a cursory look at the facts (like Politifact.com's Obamameter) shows that many, if not most economists are hopeful for the stimulus, that Obama tried to be bipartisan and was slapped by the RNC for it, and that Obama has already fulfilled a huge amount of his campaign promises.

    Remember that approval ratings are manipulated by the media. Focus on the facts, not the polls.

    February 20, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  23. demwit

    Opinion Research Corp..., isn't that the company ran by Pelosi's son??

    February 20, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  24. Duane


    Bush started at around 51% in 2001. Remember about half the country thought Gore won the election. He never went above 62% until 9/11 when his approval skyrocketed up.

    Obama's rating is about 17 points higher than Bush's was in his first 8 months as President

    And regarding those "more scientific polls" that have him lower than 60%...they don't exist. Even FoxNews has him at 60% approval with less than 30% disapproving.

    February 20, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  25. dr.mimi de la cruz









    February 20, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
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