February 20th, 2009
12:20 PM ET
5 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. Scott the Independent

    MIKE – factually George Bush's approval rating at the start of his presidency was 64%; it climed to 90% when we were attacked on 9/11. After that his approval rating slid to 54% and then he sent the troops to Iraq where it went to 60% and has been on the decline ever since to an historical low of 26%

    February 20, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  2. Phil in KC

    I think people expected too much. I think they were expecting miracles. He's done quite well in the short time he's been in office.

    February 20, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  3. Chad, Wisco

    When I get my bailout for doing the right thing by being fiscally responsible instead of just seeing my tax dollars go to those who werent, then I may approve.

    February 20, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  4. EBC

    That's OKAY. We're still behind you Mr. President, despite all the "hot air" the Republicans continue to blow out. When you look at all the energy being spent by the RNC and the GOP, you have to ask yourself, WHY don't they just get a clue? WHAT is there agenda here?

    THE GOP and RNC is set on doing nothing by playing the childish OBSTRUCTIONISTS, even when they are holding out their greedy hand for billions of stimulus money!! LOL.

    The song by the O'Jays comes to mind when they sing about "Back Stabbers"....

    February 20, 2009 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  5. GE - MD

    President Obama's biggest problem is how he let the House of Rep appropriators set the tone and content of the "Porkulous" (stimulous) legislation. It appears that Speaker pelosi and the House Democrats defined this legislation – not the White House. All that having been said, the repulican are exacerbating this issue by failing to correctly articulate that their objections to this legislation is that it spends monies on items which they do not believe that Govt should be spending money on – period. I haven't seen or head any comments from any notable republican identifying items in the expense (invest) items which they'd support in separate legislation but not in this stimulous package. Obama does not seem to be calling them to task on this point – in failing to do this, he doesn't look very strong and effectve. This is not a good place to start from, Mr. President. No wonder the ratings slip.

    February 20, 2009 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  6. Lynn

    Still waiting to hear of the poll on how the media is handling the new president and the economic crisis. i listened to Wolf Blitzer yesterday and everything had a negative slant.

    The media's negativity has a great deal in formulating public opinion as rather reporting in America has nothing to do with objective journalism and everything to do with egomaniac "pundits' who think they are experts on everything.

    February 20, 2009 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  7. Adam

    Most all polls have had him in the 60's anyway. CNN's poll in the 70's was the outlier. As for Bush, his approval rating was only high during 9/11. It fell drastically the moment he decided to invade Iraq. Obama's popularity has not gone down, despite what some Republicans want to believe. If they want to see decreasing poll numbers, they need to look at their own.

    February 20, 2009 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  8. barb

    those of you who are so quick to criticize him, should run for president in 2012 if you feel you can do a much better job!

    February 20, 2009 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  9. Gretel

    This is getting ridiculous now. poll after poll after poll... I saw that same headline about 3-4 weeks ago when the stimulus bill was being drafted.

    The bottom line is that the president is doing fine and will be okay.

    February 20, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  10. Karen- Change is coming

    Give me a break CNN.. He's been in office 30 days and has done more in 30 days than the Bush administration did in 8 years.. WTH.

    February 20, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    What exactly could have Obama accomplished in 30 DAYS in order to satisfy the GOP? This is faster than it takes most businesses to accomplish anything. There isn't enough time to make any opinion on the matter, positive or negative. Use common sense US!

    February 20, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  12. eric in texas

    In an article on yahoo.com Obama states that he will call out governors who waste the money.

    WHY DON'T YOU CALL YOURSELF AND YOUR ALL THE STIMULUS SUPPORTS FOR WASTING OUR (THE TAXPAYERS) MONEY.

    $600 mil to convert to the new cable tv system
    $200 mil for federal employees to get hybrid cars
    Nancy Pelosis stupid frog, owl or whatever it was project.

    ALL OF YOU IDIOTS WASTED MONEY IN THIS PACKAGE YOU HYPOCRIT. Bush made some of the dumbest mistakes I have ever seen and every one of you left wing, Obama worshipping, blind mice think that whatvever he does is gonna help. Every time the man opens his mouth the Dow drops. He is taking YOUR money, TO MAKE THE GOVERNMENT BIGGER!!! Then it will take more of YOUR money to keep it that way. You wanted change. You got it.

    February 20, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  13. Sarty

    Oh CNN- stop doing this.
    This President is the first class president. He is the world class president.

    February 20, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  14. tooironic

    It's hard to teach patience to an instant gratification culture, but–lucky for us–President Obama is not only trying to shore us up in the short term, he is also looking toward building an economy that will work for us for generations to come.

    According to the economists interviewed by Fareed Zakaria this morning, President Obama is the only one out there that is concentrating on finding these long term solutions. (These same economists criticized the GOPer tax cuts in the recovery plan as being pretty useless, and slammed GOPers for trying to zero out money for the states–money that would go a long way towards keeping states solvent & preventing mass layoffs of teachers, firemen, police, etc.)

    I am soooooo happy that McCain/Palin aren't in charge now.

    February 20, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  15. DEWAYNE

    YES , iTS ME AGAIN. HOW COME ALL THE PEOPLE WHO WRITE THESE comments sit around all day on their computers compare obama to God and bs theirselves to death go get some work and get off your handout wellfair butt .........."/'././.'.;/.

    February 20, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  16. katiec

    The republicans will never change or admit all their failures.
    Yet, CNN continues to let them overwhelm their station with
    their hypocrasy. Have yet to see them legitimately challenged
    on their preposperous statements. Do not remember the
    gentlemans name yesterday, he is rerpresenting our country
    with foreign countries and Wolf was rude, demanding and
    obnoxious with him. When he has the pubs on he practically
    licks their shoes.

    February 20, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  17. Proud American

    Are you serious? How can you rate someone for 30 days on the job?

    February 20, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  18. dwayne1523@yahoo.com

    Yata Yata Yata...

    And the beat goes on...Just like the polls were tighter than a gnats' butt stretched accross a rain-barrel, but the results were totally different.

    Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeee Hooooooooooooooo!

    February 20, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  19. al

    Obama has not been able to do many things he promised to do during his election campaign: the House & Senate are still divided, and the economy still tanks.

    Yup, he has failed. But, please do not say that I am a racist, just because I criticize him.

    February 20, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  20. CJ

    Well obviously the stagegy of the GOP is working , keep putting everything our new brilliant President does down , and soon enough you will find some followers. After all look at how many people followed Hitler and other misguilded leaders. That is what the Rebubs are now, very misguided And pray he fails so the GOP can stand up and "aha I told you so ". It is sort of like fiddling while Rome burns.
    I am American , I want my country and my leaders to do well. I am so diaappointed in the sour grapes attitude of this current republican party , they are republicans first and Americans second.
    I still keep praying for our leaders on both sides of the aisle. It seems to me the Dems keep reaching out and the Rebubs keep slapping their hand!
    I am becoming very ashamed of the way the GOP is acting!

    God bless President Obama and this country!

    February 20, 2009 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  21. Deborah

    Maybe it's the state I live in....

    I haven't talked to a single person who isn't Mad as H**l over the Stimulus Package!

    We are starting to get organized-watch for Patriots Day to be a big surprise for the Left!

    We are not a nation of cowards!

    February 20, 2009 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  22. Ryan

    What is the approval rating of the Republicans who are fighting him on everything? Pathetic

    February 20, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  23. In Houston, TX

    From the primaries through the election to now, my sentiments remain the same. YOUR POLLS MEAN NOTHING.
    I have never been polled...Have you?
    Regardless, I will remain highly critical of the President. I have to be, I voted for him. He is doing exactly what I hired him to do, which is to be a janitor and clean up a huge mess. If he succeeds, BEST PRESIDENT EVER! Failure is not an option.

    February 20, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  24. Tom

    The precipitous drop in Obama's rating among Repulicans unfortunately demonstrates how successful a coordinated effort by Limbaugh, RNC, et al, to undermine the new President has been, as they target their base with negative messges in the brief month of this presidency. It is really sad state of politics, but the Repulican leadership is desperately targeting 2010 mid-term elections already rather than be part of the solution to the current crisis.

    February 20, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  25. Truth Bomb Thrower

    Could it be that some of the Obama Kool-aid drinkers are starting to wake up and see this PHONY HYPOCRITE for what he is?

    February 20, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
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