June 18th, 2009
03:18 PM ET
7 years ago

Polls: Obama being judged for actions, not promises

Three new polls are out about the president's job approval.
Three new polls are out about the president's job approval.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Three new national polls suggest that President Barack Obama is more popular than his policies. And two of those surveys, by NBC-Wall Street Journal and CBS-New York Times, also indicate that concerns over the massive federal deficit are growing.

Sixty-three percent of those questioned in the CBS-New York Times poll, which was released Wednesday night, approve of the job Obama's doing as president, down 5 points from April.

But when asked about specifics, his approval rating drops. Fifty-seven percent in the survey say they approve of how the President's dealing with the economy, 44 percent give Obama a thumbs up on health care reform and 41 percent approve of how he's handling the problems of the U.S. auto industry. The poll also indicates that only three in 10 think Obama has a clear plan for dealing with the nation's deficit.

CNN Radio: Paul Steinhauser breaks down the numbers

The NBC-Wall Street Journal survey, also released Wednesday night, makes the same point. The president's overall approval in that poll stands at 56 percent, down five points from April. But only about half of those questioned approve of how he's handling the economy, and 56 percent oppose Obama's plan to provide financial aid to General Motors.

The president's approval rating stands at 61 percent in a Pew Research Center poll, down two points from their April survey. Just over half of those questioned in the poll , released Thursday, approve of how Obama's handling the economy, and 47 percent support his handling of the auto makers.

"Personally, President Obama's more popular than his policies. Americans have a high level of confidence in the president but people don't believe many of his policies have worked yet. There's a wait-and-see attitude," says CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider.

Asked Thursday about the new polls, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said "I think the president would tell you that he's going to do what's in the best interest of the American economy. Some of those things will be more popular than others. I think the American people are rightly anxious and concerned about the economy, just as the president is."

The NBC-Wall Street Journal poll suggests that the drop in the president's approval rating may be linked to sagging support from independent voters. Forty-six percent of independents questioned in the survey approve of the job Obama's doing in the White House, down 14 points from April. The president's approval rating among independents stands at 58 percent in CBS-New York Times poll.

"The key to Obama's margin of victory has always been his appeal to independent voters and his willingness to work across partisan lines. This decrease in support among independents is something the White House must be paying attention to because these voters are crucial," says CNN Senior Political Analyst Gloria Borger.

Both the NBC-Wall Street Journal and CBS-New York Times polls indicate a growing concern by Americans over the federal deficit. Nearly six in 10 in the NBC-Wall Street Journal poll feel that the White House and Congress should worry more about keeping the deficit down even if that means it will take longer for the country to rebound from the recession. Fifty-two percent of those questioned in the CBS-New York Times poll say its more important to focus on deficit reduction than spending to stimulate the economy, 9 points higher than those who say it's more important to concentrate on pumping up the economy.

"People are very worried about the deficit. They want attention paid to the deficit even if it slows down the recovery. These new polls also suggest that the view that the economy is getting better has stalled," adds Schneider.

The NBC-Wall Street Journal poll suggests that Americans don't blame Obama for economy or the deficit, with 46 percent placing blame on former President George W. Bush, 21 percent saying it's the Democrats in Congress who are at fault, 7 percent blaming congressional Republicans and just 6 percent saying Obama's at fault. More than seven in ten say the current state of the economy is something the president inherited.

So do Republicans benefit from the drop in Obama's numbers on specific issues? Both polls suggest the answer is no. Only 28 percent of people questioned in the CBS-New York Times survey have a favorable view of the GOP, with more than twice that number saying they have a positive opinion of the Democratic party. And only one in four give the Republican party a favorable rating in the NBC-Wall Street Journal poll, an all time low in that survey's history.

"Whatever doubts Americans have about Obama or the deficit, it's not helping the Republicans. Americans don't see the GOP as having anything new on the table," says Schneider.

The NBC-Wall Street Journal poll was conducted June 12-15, with 1,008 people questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

The CBS-New York Times poll was conducted June 12-16, with 895 people questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

The Pew Research Center poll was conducted June 10-14, with 1,502 people questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.


Filed under: Polls • President Obama
soundoff (76 Responses)
  1. David

    Doing a poll every week is pointless. Do a poll when an important bill passes, and the number are high... two weeks later it drops.

    Pass another bill the people want, and the numbers are higher...two weeks later, the numbers drop. Most Americans are unhappy with the state of the economy itself, and not with our president. This is why the approval rating of the president remains high.

    We understand it will take longer than 6 months, to dig our way of of a GOLBAL economic meltdown created by the Bush. It took them 8 years to spend our $1.5 Trillion surplus that President Clinton left him with, and crate a debt of an additional $1 Trillion before leaving office. Which all went to his corporate supporters and no bid contracts. Nothing went toward the American people.

    We know news is writing for the 5th grader, but it will take more than a 5th grader's mindset to understand basic economics.

    June 18, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
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