December 4th, 2009
11:56 AM ET
6 years 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. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Polls are nice.

    My company, like so many others, has outsourced our call center to Canada. In so doing they laid off employees that'd been with us for 10+ years. The ex-employees sued, they did'nt get their jobs back but received renumeration. The point being: stop looking at the gov't to find you a job, and start looking at what the private industry could be doing to reduce joblessness, but isn't. Private industry needs to be taken to task for the thousands upon thousands of jobs that in order to increase their profit margin they've shipped abroad. The one thing the gov't COULD do is make it less palatable (ie profitable) for them to do so. IMO

    December 4, 2009 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  2. Jack Carlson

    From a supporter to I believe Obama and his cohorts are crazy. He's going down as the worst Pres by far.
    Jack C
    WA

    December 4, 2009 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  3. Joanne B

    It is obvious CNN must call more Democrats as average of other polls are 45%, two are at 43% now.
    He's gone in four yrs no doubt. He's not very smart – however he can read a telemprompter very well.
    Americans falling for the Hollywood type this ADM will go down as the Hollywood ADM Fiasco, and the Whitehouse of Profanity (they swear like the Mafia perhaps would not).
    Joanne B
    WI

    December 4, 2009 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  4. Joe

    The polls don't mean nothing. Even Obama said once, he doesn't look at polls. I don't see anyone right now that would beat Obama in any election if it held now. I don't see any Republicans that are hopefull to run against him and win, regardless what the polls says. The Republicans going to have to pull a rabbit out of a hat, and that is not going to happen.

    December 4, 2009 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  5. File under "Sarcasm"

    "It's the Economy, stupid."

    Even the jobs report today has a hollow ring to it. While the good news is the net loss of only 11,000 jobs, the underlying data reveals that the only sectors of the economy showing gains were healthcare and temporary employment services. The former is probably tied to baby boomer's aging while the later is related to the fact that no one is hiring permanent workers with benefits.

    Manufacturing was down 41,000, construction fell by 27,000, and the number of "discouraged workers" who have stopped looking for work increased by 253,000. Somehow these numbers don't give me any confidence that the Obama stimulus package is doing much good.

    December 4, 2009 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  6. Joe

    Long overdued!

    December 4, 2009 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  7. Tom in VA

    While FOX Spews celebrates this poll, citizens of a more cerebral nature will conclude that these poll numbers are quite good. While the poll shows a weakening of the Obama's support, considering the spit-laden coverage of the lunatic fringe of the far-right (that's you Fox and Rush), one would think Obama's ratings should be in the 30's, not high 40's.

    Considering the mountain of crap left Obama by Bush-Cheney, NO ONE on the RepubliCANT side side of the idle could have come even CLOSE to the effectiveness that Obamahad in dealing with ALL these issues in LESS THAN A YEAR in office.

    Obama, while not perfect (no one is), he has, and will keep, this southern white male's support.

    President Obama...so many are standing with you.

    December 4, 2009 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  8. Fair is Fair

    You know it's got to be bad if even a CNN poll has him below 50%.

    At any rate, here' comes the comments:

    "Bush was at 30%"
    "It tells you that 50% of respondents are morons"
    "I didn't get polled – no one asked me"
    "Everyone who likes Obama only has a cell phone"
    "There were too many republicans polled"

    etc. etc. etc.

    December 4, 2009 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  9. Lost in Texas FOREVER

    wow President Bush got 8 years to help get this economy in the shape it is yet President Obama gets 9 or 10 months to fix it. Simply amazing.

    December 4, 2009 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  10. WHAT!

    Obama still have my support.

    December 4, 2009 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  11. RGB in MN

    Sometines it just takes a while to see through smoke, mirrors and ineptitude. Rookie

    December 4, 2009 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  12. Republicans Rejected

    Oh no, another straw for the loser Republicans to grasp at.

    We won.
    You lost.
    Get over it.

    December 4, 2009 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  13. Robert J 1

    The Presidents approval is under 50% thanks to the media's incessant analysis of worthless topics, and the "ME" generation who expects everything they can think of "imediately if not sooner". Get real people.. It took the republican morons 15 years to create this chaos and quagmire. It sure isn't going to be resolved in a year especially when so many of the republican engineers of this mess are still stonewalling progress. To those who have a low opinion of the President- shut up and get out of the way – you are not bringing anything to the table except BS. Let people who really care and have and IQ above that of a doorknob get some good and real work done.!

    December 4, 2009 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  14. Matt

    So, is he too left for the righties or too right for the lefties? Well he's too definitely left for the righties - after all, he's a Democrat. But I think the reason his approval is dropping is because he's not being as left as the lefties thought he was going to be. Welcome to reality.

    December 4, 2009 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  15. Pat

    So – are we supposed to believe that the ability to understand economics and international relations is well understood by the white non-elite?
    For the rest of the polling data I would just say: it is natural that memories of the worst president ever fade a little over time. Let's not forget Dubya.
    We really can't expect Obama to fix within a single year what Bush drove in the ditch over a period of 8 years.

    December 4, 2009 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  16. Baby Boomer

    All I know is the tone has changed where I work. Seems the leaking of jobs offshore has slowed WAY down so some of us may actually get to continue our careers. I think that could be part of what may account for only 11,000 jobs being lost in Nov. vs. the 135,000 expected.

    I give credit where credit is due. Whether the haters like it or not, President Obama and his administration are making a difference.

    Keep it going Mr. President.

    December 4, 2009 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  17. Obama 2.0

    In the spirit of open Gov. The Social Secretery to the WH needs to step down. This is not what I voted for. Especially if Secret Service agents fire people. POTUS, please get back on track and get your/my "House/WH" in order. Open and honest order 🙂

    December 4, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  18. Leana, GA

    I think the part that says "non-college educated white folks" says it all.

    Most intelligent people approve of the president, and I'm so glad I'm in that catagory.

    December 4, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  19. talanhugh

    Now the libs can explain how the messiah is still popular and loved despite what the polls say...

    Appears us "Angry folks" are now the majority.

    December 4, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  20. Augustine

    "The poll indicates that the biggest drop in approval comes from non college educated white voters." I don't think that you need to know much else in order to evaluate this poll. Maybe these folks are too busy with their duties on the Teabaggers Express.

    December 4, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  21. mario ca.

    Cnn should take a poll of your own media, to see how credible you are

    December 4, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  22. IndyVoter

    This is NOT rocket science! The country is split almost evenly in half...On the Right, almost every Republican does not approve of him. On the Left, gay rights advocates, liberals who wanted single payer or public option healthcare plan & the those who want to immediately pull out of Afghanistan do not approve of him. Simple math will tell you that more than 50% are unhappy with him right now, but obviously NOT all for the same reasons!! It is also a good indicator that he is on the right track. HE CANNOT please everyone at every moment in time. There are WAY too many issues that have been left to rot, fester and get worse over the years, that now Pres. Obama has to fix. Please people! His term is for 4 years. We have not even reached the end of the 1st one. It takes an elephant more time than this to deliver a calf....sheesh!

    December 4, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  23. a health economist

    So the less educated people that were less likely to vote for Obama in the first place are using their lower education to conclude he is not doing a good job? And these are the same people that think a loss of jobs no matter what is a bad thing and cannot comprehend that an increase of the unemployment rate at a decreasing rate is actually a hopeful sign.

    Makes sense to me.

    December 4, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  24. Gallows pole

    His numbers will never get as low as Cheneys,the greatest criminal that was ever in office.

    December 4, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  25. mjm

    When CNN polls have a liberal at 48%, its bad news for the liberal.

    According to Rasmussen, it's 46%, with 40% strongly disapproving.

    The problem with Obama is that he is not Reagan or Clinton....He's Carter.

    73% disapprove of government run single payer health care...if anyone cares to know.

    December 4, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
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