March 18th, 2009
11:26 AM ET
5 years ago

Poll: Obama's taken on too much, say Americans

Do Americans think President Barack Obama's got too many balls in the air?
Do Americans think President Barack Obama's got too many balls in the air?

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Do Americans think President Barack Obama's got too many balls in the air? A new national survey indicates that for a majority, the answer is yes.

Fifty-five percent of people questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Wednesday say that since he's taken over in the White House, President Obama has tried to handle more issues than he should have. Forty-three percent say he hasn't bitten off more than he can chew.

"In his first weeks in office, Barack Obama did not focus exclusively on the economy but instead announced new policies and proposals on everything from education to health care to Afghanistan and Iraq," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "He gets high marks on most of those issues, but it seems that many Americans are worried that he might lose his focus on economic recovery."

President Obama Tuesday dismissed criticism he's trying to do too much. "What I say is that the challenges we face are too large to ignore," he said.

"To kick these problems down the road for another four years or another eight years to be to continue the same irresponsibility that led us to this point. That's not why I ran for this office. I didn't come here to pass on our problems to the next president or the next generation. I came here to solve them."

The poll suggests that a majority, 58 percent, feel that the president's programs strike the right political tone for the country. Thirty-six percent say Obama's proposals are too liberal, and 5 percent say they are not liberal enough.

On the issues: 59 percent say they approve of how the President's handling the economy, 57 percent like how Obama's dealing with health care, 63 percent approve of his energy policy and 65 percent back him on education reform.

Sixty-six percent like Obama's approach to foreign affairs, with 63 percent approving of how he handles Iraq, 67 percent agreeing with him on Afghanistan and 61 percent approving of his performance in the fight against terrorism."

Obama tends to get better numbers for his handling of international issue than on domestic problems," Holland says. "That's a typical pattern for many presidents, who can handle foreign policy concerns without always having to push something through Congress."

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll of 1,019 Americans was conducted by telephone Thursday through Sunday, and has a sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.


Filed under: Poll • President Obama
soundoff (68 Responses)
  1. obama-mama

    I think he is doing a splendid job no matter what the critics have to say. He was left with a lot so he has to juggle a lot. A lot of the issues he is facing is tied together one way or another. I give him a lot of credit for hitting the ground running and also finding time to be with his family. He is a president of the people which is why he is everywhere doing different things. The start was bumpy but I believe he will get a lot ironed out by his second year.

    March 18, 2009 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  2. Randy, San Francisco

    Obama is typical of today's younger generation comfortable in interfacing with the latest technologies. He can multi-task and focus on many issues at the same time without a loss of focus or efficency. The goals are attainable because of his leadership and competent staff.

    March 18, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  3. What Can U Say?

    Was there ever an option to not juggle all these things? The country has been so poorly led that we are severely hurting in so many areas... what choice does the President have?

    March 18, 2009 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  4. Doug

    After eight years of a president who couldn't walk and chew gum at the same time it's understandable to think Obama has taken on too much. But the guy is like a chess master. What may seem like a mistake today will be revealed to be a stroke of genius tomorrow.

    March 18, 2009 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  5. Ex-Republican

    Thank You President Obama.

    After eight years of a duo that focussed only on enhancing our ability to torture people, you are willing to atleast try to make up for their lost time, while not torturing people.

    I appreciate that.

    March 18, 2009 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  6. Jackie in Dallas

    And which of the many balls in the air would you like him to drop? Fulfilling campaign promises of closing Gitmo and stopping all forms of torture, plus reversing the Bush Administration stance on stem cell research? Providing leadership on a stimulus bill to get the economy moving?

    He is being faced with more, and more serious, problems than any President in recent memory. We are lucky in that he is bright enough, has had the intelligence to bring on some pretty impressive people to help out. He can multitask, which is going to be critical...he's taken part of one weekend off with his family in the days since his inauguration because he knows there is too much to do to take time off, and he is trying to rebuild international relations which will also be critical to the overall economic recovery.

    I think we need to be realistic: do we want another linear, one-thing-at-a-time President, or do we want one that can multitask? One of these days, I'd love to be on the other end of a national poll taker's call so that I can not only answer the poll question but comment on the inanity of most of them!

    March 18, 2009 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  7. Tina in Phoenix, AZ

    Heaven forbid we have a president who actually works more than he vacations! I, for one, find it refreshing that Pres. Obama is so active. And he's making maximum use of the first year "honeymoon" that every president encounters. He's done more in the first few months than Bush did in 8 years.

    March 18, 2009 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  8. NYFN08

    A competent, ambitious president really isn't such a bad thing...

    March 18, 2009 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  9. Jerry

    There are lot s of things to do and we need to do them now. Every thing is connected to our economy. Healthcare effects the economy. Energy effects the economy. Lack of eduation effects the economy. Creating 3 million jobs will effect the economy. Making sure our financial system does not fail effects the economy. Doing to much at once. Nope. Need to get er done.

    March 18, 2009 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  10. Robin

    I know, I know...

    All this discussion about Leno, cheesesteaks, and basketball is enough to make anyone's head spin.

    Can someone please tell him, if he stops campaigning for the job he already has, it might not be so bad.

    March 18, 2009 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  11. Republican comedy

    Yeah, we need a President who can't chew his gum and walk at the same time. Oh that's right, we had Bush. I guess the American public is use to it.

    March 18, 2009 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  12. Dave

    Sorry, but whoever was coming into office this year was going to have all these challenges to face. And I do not buythat it will be fixed. This is a course these people have taken and they are steering it the way they want to.

    March 18, 2009 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  13. Fred Heartly

    What a joke... Health care is part of the struggling ecnomy and education is part of the economy. America is not just for the folks on Wall Street who live off the froth of others hard work. It is also for the millions of Amercians who build companies and provide for their families.

    March 18, 2009 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  14. anonymous

    Taking on too much, how can you take on what have been there all the time. He only trying to fix a bad situation before it get worse. Instead of talking about how much he is taking on why dont the ones who are running their mouth try and help out. There is a great crisis going on and if something is not done, than that will be the talk next. Some people you just cant please!!!!

    March 18, 2009 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  15. Larry

    He's a big boy

    I think he's quite able to judge for himself what his limitations are or are not

    Many people in America can't balance their checkbooks, so a poll of this type has no real value, for the people of this country have little idea what it is like to be him ...

    March 18, 2009 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  16. Len in Washington

    I really think that people are used to a President that can hardly concentrate on ONE thing let alone several at once. Obama's correct when he says all these things are tied together. We all need to give him more time. There is no "delete button" to fix this mess that took years to develop.

    March 18, 2009 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  17. LYNETTE IN CA

    The balls were already in the air. He inherited them that way. He really doesn't have a choice but to run with it. Not to mention, it's not like he's handling these things alone. He has people in place that he directs and he hears from regularly. He handling things fine.

    March 18, 2009 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  18. LIP

    Obama needs to take on Congress, specifically Nancy Pelosi.
    Now Nancy is saying our immigration laws, saying this to illegal aliens, are un American. Are Democrats getting that concerned about the upcoming 2010 election that they are making sure they have all the Mexican American votes in their corner?

    March 18, 2009 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  19. A Sousley

    Well, gee which do you want him to ignore.. Let's see..

    Economy.. ohhhh better not
    Iraq... nope not that one
    Afghanistan.... Bush did that.. see where it got us
    Health Care...hmmm 48 million without insurance... yeah sure a few million more won't hurt.. yeah right...

    So, which is it.. which one do you want him to ignore??

    What a bunch of idiots that thinks he is doing too much.. It is all part of his job as President.

    March 18, 2009 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  20. Mel

    Honey, do you remember what was said when McCain dropped everything during campaigning when the bottom first fell out? He was trying to act like the knight on a white horse but really did nothing and we all said "what, he can't do more than one thing at once?". Well its the same thing, Obama CAN do more than one thing at once. He promised us he'd hit the ground running and thats exactly what he's doing.

    I'm quite impressed with how well he's juggling it all. We expected this. Now he's delivering and people are whining?

    The people are being childish and ridiculous. You are getting what you asked for. Now shut up and deal with it.

    March 18, 2009 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  21. Enlightened

    We are just used to someone who basically did NOTHING in the white house but ruin this country. Barack is brilliant, capable and trying to fix this country!

    March 18, 2009 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  22. Lisa in Fla

    Of course President Obama has alot of "balls in the air". With the disaster (on every front) he took over from 8 years of Bush he HAS to try to right the ship on many fronts. For those who feel he is not focused enough on the economy, you must understand that health care reform, energy and education reform are key to fixing and growing our economy. They are all interrelated. If Bush had been inclined or capable (which is doubtful) to deal with even one of these issues during his 8 years we would be in a better place. Bush ignored domestic issues totally. While I agree the financial disaster is issue #1, Obama is doing everything possible to do the right thing by the American people.

    March 18, 2009 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  23. Craig- Easton, PA

    I don't think he's taken on too much. A lot of those early announcements were promises kept that did not significantly take time or focus. The effort to build a new basis for the economy based on healthcare reform, energy independence and education are critical for economic recovery and sustainability. In fact, I hope that Pelosi and Company do no dissuade him from starting the independent commission to take on medicare and Social Security. These are all hard decisions that have been put off for a decade or more. The one area I would fault the administration is the lack of a team around Geithner and the slow pace of rolling out the bank solution. I know it's complicated and that I don't understand the half of it, but it needs to be done right and it needs to be done soon to maintain momentum and restore trust.

    March 18, 2009 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  24. ray ray

    Barack of all trades, master of none.

    March 18, 2009 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  25. larryl

    President Obama tackles an all but impossible economic, diplomatic, and military messes left behind by the Bush Administration. Just un-screwing up President Bush's blunders is a full-time job! I'm not surprised to see some people doubt the President's ability to handle multiple tasks, since our former leader appeared challenged by his primary intellectual activities – jogging and cutting brush.

    March 18, 2009 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
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