December 17th, 2009
01:10 PM ET
9 months ago

CNN Poll of Polls: Obama approval rating stabilizes

As 2009 comes to an end, about half of the country is giving President Barack Obama a thumbs up.
As 2009 comes to an end, about half of the country is giving President Barack Obama a thumbs up.

Washington (CNN) – As 2009 comes to an end, about half of the country is giving President Barack Obama a thumbs-up.

According to a CNN Poll of Polls compiled and released Thursday, Obama's approval rating in polls taken in the past week averages out to 50 percent, with 44 percent saying they disapprove.

"Obama's average approval rating was at 52 percent or 53 percent every week from early October to mid-November. Each week since then, his average approval rating has been between 48 percent and 50 percent," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "The bad news for the White House is that his current rating is down by roughly 15 points since the start of the year. The good news is that it appears to have stabilized as the end of the year approaches."

Since scientific polling began more than seven decades ago, only one popularly-elected president has ended his first calendar year in office with an approval rating below 50 percent.

Ronald Reagan's approval rating dipped to 49 percent in December 1981, and stayed below 50 percent for two years - but he won re-election in a landslide, says Holland. By contrast, Jimmy Carter and the elder George Bush had approval ratings well over 50 percent in December of their first year in the White House, but lost their re-election bids. "So the first-year approval ratings don't appear to have any predictive value when it comes to re-election prospects," said Holland.

The CNN Poll of Polls on how Obama is handling his job overall consists of an average of six surveys conducted within the last week: NBC/Wall Street Journal (Dec. 11-14), the Gallup tracking (Dec. 13-15), AP/GfK (Dec. 10-14), ABC/Washington Post (Dec. 10-13), Pew (Dec. 9-13), and Fox (Dec. 8-9). The Poll of Polls does not have a sampling error.

Four of the six surveys in the overall Poll of Polls also asked about the president's handling of the economy, the number one issue on the minds of Americans. According to an average of those four polls, 45 percent approve of how Obama's dealing with the economy, while half of the public disapproves.

Four of the six surveys also asked about Afghanistan. According to the CNN Poll of Polls, 50 percent, on average, approve of how Obama's handling that conflict, with 43 percent disapproving.

Three of the surveys asked how the president's dealing with health care reform. According to the CNN Poll of Polls, 44 percent approve of Obama's handling of health care, with 51 percent giving him a thumbs down.

The president's approval drops even lower for the budget deficit. Three of the surveys asked about the deficit, and the CNN Poll of Polls indicates 37 percent approve of Obama's handling of the issue, with 54 percent disapproving.

–Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn


Filed under: Polls • Popular Posts • President Obama
soundoff (62 Responses)
  1. Obama-Mama

    That's ok Prez....I know you have been working hard and have accomplished a lot. Thanks to previous administration you are now being polled on juggling their mess around and trying to stabilize it.

    December 17, 2009 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  2. victim of the false prophet OBAMA

    only people in their left mind would believe anything this lame duck president says.

    December 17, 2009 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  3. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Once the healthcare debate is over, his numbers will shoot up to the low or mid 60's. And I can't wait to hear that news briefing months or years from now when they say, "my fellow americans, WE GOT HIM(OBL)." When that happens, his numbers will shoot up to the 90's.

    (wishful thinking)

    December 17, 2009 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  4. carolflowery

    pfffft he's a spending freak, someone needs to cut up his credit card

    December 17, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  5. felicia

    That's great i still give my President two thumbs up he is the best of the best. And the best is yet too come. Keep up the goodwork Mr. Preisdent.

    December 17, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  6. Steph

    With all the controversial issues this president has had to tackle in his first 10 months in office, I can see why some people on both political sides would say they disapprove. So far, I have been very pleased with almost all of the decisions he's made.

    December 17, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  7. Obama = unemployment/debt

    Stabilized? How fast to you think his numbers can fall in a month?

    If he were less 'likable', his numbers would be completely down the tank. His policies, ideas, ideology are complete garbage and would get an F grade by all but his lemmings and radical friends.

    And the healthcare takeover needs to stop. I've never heard of a bigger waste of paper in my life–no reform, just additional costs, taxes and fees.

    December 17, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  8. Dominican Papa not for Obama

    Thats funny, Obama has the lowest approval rating of any president in history at this point in his term, and liberal CNN thinks that it is good he is stabilizing as the worst rated president in history at this point. Obama is sowing the seeds for destruction in this country. Simply because he does not have enough experience in any of these matters he is trying to solve. So his solution is to turn these things over to people like Nancy Pelosi? She has the lowest approval rating of any elected official in US history. We are spending money we don't have on things that we cannot afford. People everywhere are talking about revolution, and I must say it is not a bad idea.

    December 17, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  9. steve AK

    Anyone in HR will tell you that unless your new hire proves to be totally incompetent or ends up doing something illegal, the first year of work is not the end-all-tell-all of job performance.

    (Ironically, Pres Bush was both incompetent and did things illegally).

    Anyway, give Obama some time. His policies are just starting to go into effect.

    December 17, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  10. katiec

    President Obama sincerly cares about the American people and the survival of our country.
    Unfortunately the going is rough as some Democrats and all republicans would rather see our country destroyed than support
    any policy, regardless of it's merits.
    Have never witnessed such a division, such a lack of truly representing the American people, such swiftboating as is
    happening today. It is frightening, the hypocrasy, fear mongering,
    lies and distortions being thrown at Americans for the sake of
    party first, win at any cost and big business.
    They are destroying any creditibility our political system had.

    December 17, 2009 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  11. southerncousin

    Just for a minute, wait until the full effects of this "health care" crap are know, including all the secret (non transparent) stuff that Pelosi, Reid and Hussein are doing. This is nothing but another grab of the taxpayer money to give to the people who can;t get jobs because the can't pass drug tests and being products of the NEA dominated putlic education system are to dumb to take care of themselves. You know, Obama's people.

    December 17, 2009 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  12. Fitz in Texas

    "Obama approval rating stabilizes"......well, it has for now so enjoy it while you can because his ratings are about to start tanking again.

    December 17, 2009 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  13. I'l tell you whats stabilizes

    If this diluted Joke of a Health Care bill passes

    No public option, no insurance regulation with any teeth, no medicare expansion...

    Then the fact that the dems are worthless, ....with a majority and a president is what passes!

    It stabilizes the fact the Democrats, and this neato President (yes, that i voted for) are part of the problem too.

    December 17, 2009 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  14. meh

    Polls Schmolls.
    All I know is, I respect the man and I happen to think he is doing a good job. Keep keepin' on, Mr. President.

    50% isn't bad for someone dealing w. his unprecedented situation, btw!

    December 17, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  15. Eric in Denver

    The 50% that support this president must have there heads buried in the sand. This president has bankrupted our country, apologizing to everybody for our country being so terrible, made us less safe, closed gitmo, supports trials for terrorists in NYC, do I need to continue. This guy is going to make Carter look good. Complete takeover of house and senate in 2010 and white house in 2012.

    December 17, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  16. Debbie from VA

    Must not be good news or there would be no need for Holland's spinning and justification. But the liberals say polls don't matter or the polls are not representative when they don't agree with them. And of course Fox is mentioned so there will be pontification about how those are biased.

    December 17, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  17. George

    If Lieberman would quit being a republican and pass health care Obama's ratings will go up. The GOP hates poor people and any kind of human decency. They are the death Panels. Every republican and Lieberman's ratings should be 0 percent. They have just drawn pay checks and have done zero for America.

    December 17, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  18. Paul

    Lol CNN must be breathing a big sigh of relief...

    December 17, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  19. Vets4Obama

    Ronald Reagan's approval rating dipped to 49 percent in December 1981, and stayed below 50 percent for two years – but he won re-election in a landslide, says Holland. By contrast, Jimmy Carter and the elder George Bush had approval ratings well over 50 percent in December of their first year in the White House, but lost their re-election bids. "So the first-year approval ratings don't appear to have any predictive value when it comes to re-election prospects," said Holland.
    ----------------------–
    Keep that in mind when you blow hard morons from the republican party start spewing your retarded theories about 2010 and 2012. The only President EVER under 50% was your beloved Reagan. With Obama getting close to that figure (but still beating Reagan, which is no surprise to intelligent people who know what a TRAIN wreck Reagan was with his "Trickle down poverty") it does not bode well for the mental midgets that are the entirety of the republican terrorist cell.

    December 17, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  20. SocialismBad

    Interesting... Other sites report:

    "For the first time, Obama’s overall job approval rating has fallen below 50 percent (to 47 percent). In addition, for the first time since Sept. 2007, a plurality (45 percent) sees the Democratic Party in a negative light. And the percentage believing the country is on the wrong track (55 percent) is at its highest level in the Obama presidency. "

    Trying to minimize the country's dislike of Obama CNN???

    December 17, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  21. Sniffit

    Here we go again...the same people who yell "hahaha" when a poll is posted about Obama's approval dropping will now say:

    1. "That's not what my extensive scientific-method surveys at pseudo-militia weekend daycamp indicate!"

    2. "CNN only interviews Democrats!"

    3. "I want to secks Rush Limbaugh!"

    4. "50% approval and 44% disapproval only adds up to 94%...CNN is ignoring the 6% who said they want him dead!"

    5. All the above.

    December 17, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  22. PREDICTA

    If he doesn't provide Americans with jobs, it won't matter what his approval rating is. I think the people are fed up with all the BS and spending without limits. Next year, look for many dems to be ousted from congress; then Obama gets the boot in 2012.

    December 17, 2009 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  23. gt

    nice guy ,,, nice family,,, terrible president...

    December 17, 2009 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  24. S M R

    Two choices1. A RepublicanThat cares about the BOTTOM LINE(CORPORATE PROFITS). 2. A Democrat that cares and fights for the Average American. The Devil would choose #1, Our loving GOD would choose #2.

    December 17, 2009 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  25. Sean

    Don't worry about polls and ratings. Just do what's right, and the rest will be fine.

    December 17, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
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