December 4th, 2009
11:56 AM ET
3 months ago

CNN Poll: Obama approval under 50 percent

President Obama's job approval rating has slipped below 50 percent according to a new CNN poll.
President Obama's job approval rating has slipped below 50 percent according to a new CNN poll.

Washington (CNN) - Support for President Barack Obama's Afghanistan policy is fairly high, but that hasn't stopped his approval rating from dropping below 50 percent for the first time in a CNN poll.

According to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation national survey released Friday, 48 percent of Americans approve of the job Obama's doing as president, with 50 percent disapproving. The 48 percent approval is a 7 point drop in approval from last month.

"The poll indicates that the biggest drop in approval comes from non college educated white voters," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "That's one indication among many that Obama's growing unpopularity may be more related to unemployment and the poor economy."

In fact, six in ten Americans questioned say they favor Obama's plan to send 30,000 more troops to that country. Two-thirds also support his plan to start removing U.S. forces from Afghanistan in the summer of 2011 - although the poll indicates most Americans think that announcing that timetable in advance was a bad idea, and they are skeptical whether conditions in Afghanistan in 2011 will actually allow the U.S. to start drawing down troop levels.

Support for Obama's policies does not translate into support for the war itself; a majority still say they oppose U.S. action in that country.

"That may currently be a reflection on George W. Bush rather than Obama," says Holland. "Two-thirds say they blame the former president, not Obama, for the problems the U.S. currently faces in Afghanistan."

But the poll suggests the conflict is eventually going to become Mr. Obama's War, with 54 percent saying they will blame Obama, not Bush, for any problems the U.S. faces in Afghanistan in 2011.

The poll was conducted Wednesday and Thursday, after the president spelled out his new Afghanistan policy in a prime time address Tuesday night at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York.

Several late-November polls have indicated Obama's approval rating this low even before his speech at West Point. Weekly averages of national polls showed Obama's approval consistently at 52 or 53 percent from mid-October through mid-November.

"But in the week before Thanksgiving, his average approval rating slipped to 49 percent - solid evidence that something was going on before Obama announced his Afghan policy," adds Holland.

Obama's rating dropped 18 points among non-college whites, but only four points among whites who attended college - a good indication that the economy and other domestic issues are hurting the president.

Obama also dropped 15 points among whites under the age of 50, but only four points among older whites.

"That may partly be due to Afghanistan, but the young are also the group hardest hit when unemployment rises. The same is true for white women, whose approval of Obama dropped 12 points," says Holland.

Obama is not the first president to drop below 50 percent in his first year in the White House. That dubious honor goes to Ronald Reagan, whose approval rating dipped to 49% in November, 1981, and stayed below that mark for two years. Bill Clinton also dropped well below the 50 percent mark by May, 1993 - the fastest on record.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted by telephone, with 1,041 people questioned. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report


Filed under: CNN Polls • President Obama
soundoff (236 Responses)
  1. Moderate Independent

    I noticed that you only included the percentages of uneducated vs. educated whites in your poll and it was implied that the non-college graduates were responsible for the poll drop. I didn't see an reference as to what the African-American percentage was or the divide of educated/uneducated. Was this an inadvertent omission or just not relevant?

    December 4, 2009 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  2. tcaudilllg

    I agree: if a golden parachute is the difference between black and red ink, then the golden parachute oughta go. Nice of those AIG execs to donate a few hundred million to fight our growing debt, heh.

    December 4, 2009 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  3. greenfish

    Reagn was at 42% by the time the '82 midterm elections rolled around and he carried 49 states in '84. This poll means nothing.

    December 4, 2009 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  4. vinh

    A little gaffe here, a little gaffe there, soon it adds up to real trouble. People have come to the realization that President Obama is not the miracle man who can walk on water. 2012 will be a real test.

    December 4, 2009 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  5. seebofubar

    Wow, now that's an achievment. It took Bush almost 3.5 years to get that low, and we thought he was a moron. At this rate Obamination be at zero by next Christmas.

    December 4, 2009 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  6. Where is the N.O.W.???

    Lacrosse Mom?

    Dutch?

    Ed in Santa Fe?

    Beverly in NYC?

    Where are you guys? Hello? Anyone?

    December 4, 2009 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  7. Matt in UT

    The CNN poll has Obama's numbers down this week. Other polls have had him below 50 for a couple months.

    I've recently taken a "pro Obama" poll (not by CNN). Most questions were tainted to show Obama in a better light. (a question might read: The greed of Wall Street and banking institutions has caused millions to lose their jobs, would you support an Obama policy that would increase US jobs by 25%). Hmmm, can we really trust a CNN poll?

    December 4, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  8. California

    If we were to cast votes again between Obama and any other so-called prominent repub, Obama would win again with his current rating. repubs spend so much time criticizng than tryign to collectively join forces to find solutions to help America.

    December 4, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  9. Overtaxed Patriot

    To: "Republicans Rejected" and all the other fer left wing nuts that are still reveling in the Obama's win.

    OK you won, you get to "drive the bus". Now the first thing you do is put the key in the ignition and adjust your mirrors. Second you turn the key to start the motor, the gas is on the right and brake is to the left. Third and most important you have to know where you're going to get anywhere.

    The big problem is you got it cranked and have your foot floored on the gas, but aren't going anywhere. You're still in George Bush's parking spot singing gleefully! How about figuring out what the trip tik is supposed to be for the 3 remaining years so the rest of us can get somewhere other than this dank and dark place you have us stuck in now. I'm more than happy to suggest some locations and directions on how to get there if you'll just shut up long enough to listen.

    December 4, 2009 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  10. Dog Bite It

    48% rating of approval does not come from Iowa.
    24% rating is quite close.
    Run a fair and reliable poll rateing here and you will see.
    Hope he sees the light before we crash and burn.
    Hope and pray our President soon starts with common sense and
    his support of the troops on the ground is good if we are to
    stay there. He is finding out it is easier to entertain in the white house
    than it is to run a war. And we did not elect him for his ability to entertain. I hope the best for Obama

    December 4, 2009 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  11. Cindy

    It amazes me how childish some of these responses sound. I endured the past 8 years of Bush without posting one single derogatory remark and look at the mess he got us into. Did anyone honestly expect Obama to turn that mess around in just one year???

    December 4, 2009 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10