December 17th, 2009
01:10 PM ET
8 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. Jane/Seattle

    In a recent conversation with a prominant person, he said to us all, "At least he is better than Bush, don't you think"? I said yes of course, but do not really feel this way. I was not too quick on the uptake, but after some thought, these is my thoughts.

    IF Obama actually is so much better than Bush, THEN WHY IS THE KILLING STILL BEING CHOSEN FOR OTHER NATIONS? WOULD CHANGE NOT CHANGE THESE CONDITIONS? Give him time, you say? WE Don't Have Time! Why are we being sacrificed again for big corporate profits (healthcare)? Why are so many court seats standing vacant? Why is The Black Caucas sending him letters to help this ignored group, especially those in for-profit prisons? Why is the "Terrorism" talk still continuing when any thinking person knows that America is her own worst enemy! Bush et al drummed this into the national Psyche and now it is here! If Obama is so very different, why did he appoint nothing but WALL Streeters and Not many Main Streeters?

    December 17, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  2. angela

    i think hes doing great! hes doing great things, saying the right things and will hopefully give the americans a decent universal health care plan just like the rest of the world. would americans think of britain and ireland as 'communist',well we have universal health care and its great. we complain, and there is always room for improvement but the bottom line is that if you're sick you get looked after regardless of the cost to the state.you can have private care if u like guaranteeing private rooms but besides that theres no difference. dont be afraid guys, your president is heading the correct way and boy!is he handsome!

    December 17, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  3. Tim

    So in CNN land, you can take polls that show between 48 and 50 percent approval rating and somehow come to an average of 50?

    December 17, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  4. Left Wingers are Moonbats

    I believe that half the Americans are giving him the finger, not the thumbs up.

    December 17, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  5. Peggy - TX

    Although I greatly admire President Obama, the Republicans were correct when that characterized him as a community organizer a but naive to run with the big dogs.

    I still recall that he was busy tromping around Africa and using his bully pulpit to support one dist fellow Harvard professor, rather then taking that opportunity to educate the American people on the details of the health care bill.

    I still think, history will view President Obama’s 8 years in office as awesome and that he will be one widly considered US’s greatest presidents in recent history, but right now his performance is mediocre at best.

    December 17, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  6. Tom in AZ

    How far does it have to fall for him to get the message that he got elected on a call for change, and not empty rhetoric? Obama has been a massive disappointment thus far and I have no qualms with seeing his approval ratings his Bush-era lows...hes not a whole lot different than his predecessor.

    December 17, 2009 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  7. Dave

    Yeah, it's stable now......riiiiiiiight.

    December 17, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  8. tdorch

    I pray for our President. He has the worse support in his own party. I think he is doing a great job!

    December 17, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  9. Calvin W

    Polls?

    Who is being polled? What are the questions? And can someone tell why there's 100 polls every week?...This is nutty. Polls don't feed people, polls don't put people to work, polls can't even solve my kids 3rd grade homework....All of these polls are just plain nutty

    I say do 1 poll every 6 months, that's it.

    December 17, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  10. T'SAH from Virginia

    And yet ANOTHER Poll!! Jeez

    Do you guys get a sense of satisfaction from the word POLL???? Not a "strppers" POLE but a statistics POLL!!! Maybe that is why you do so many – you have your POLES confused!!!

    Give us a BREAK!!!

    December 17, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  11. Four and The Door

    44 percent approve of Obama's handling of health care
    _____________________________________________________
    44% of Americans polled want to pay more for Health Care?????
    With no improvement in quality? For $1 trillion?

    Maybe they didn't understand the question. That has to be it.

    December 17, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  12. Lacrosse Mama not for Obama from Bad Newz, VA

    How about the part that 48% approval rating in month 11 of a new presidency is the LOWEST approval rating for any newly elected president since World War 2?

    December 17, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  13. Cire

    You should see his favorability numbers. Though only half think he's doing a good job, almost 60% of people like him. His approval will rise.

    December 17, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  14. notamused

    it is not that support of the President is not still falling, it is that people are trying to enjoy the holdiays without having to worry so much about these worthless politicians for a few weeks. next month the freefall will resume as the unemployement will continue to rise.

    December 17, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  15. strong

    Stabilizes? As in, like the Titanic stabilized on the bottom of the Atlantic?

    December 17, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  16. Joel

    Whew....well what do you expect. No MSM has accurately or otherwise, on the Climate-gate scandal. No one seems to mention that. This simply goes to the top of the list of things that the MSM deems, unimportant. The most important thing is that he cares. Where are the jobs? Where is the recovery?

    December 17, 2009 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  17. Gregory H. Brooklyn, New York

    It had to, we knew it would. The colossal mess he inherited over the past 8 plus years was not going to be solved in 1 year. 'Though we HOPED, he's the Best man for the job we chose him for. We're with you Mr. President.

    December 17, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  18. sonny chapman

    Hang in there big guy !

    December 17, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  19. John D.

    His numbers are only going in one direction and that is down. He is undoubtably the worst president this country has ever had. What a shame because there were such high hopes for him and what he SAID he was going to do while campaigning.

    The minute he hit the Whitehouse all bets were off as well as all cqampaign promises. He has LIED every step of the way. He surrounded himself with the most liberal left group you could ever imagine.

    His association with Groups like ACORN leaves little doubt just what kind of man he is. Add to that his ignorant way of dealing with a recession as well as pushing a healthcare reform bill that will still leave 24 million people uninsured. He is literally selling this country out. I have absolutely no respect whatsoever for him.

    December 17, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  20. carol

    Please – CNN is so transparent. After one day of one survey up after weeks of Obama dropping in the polls, you say his approval is stabilizing! Get some objectivity!!!!

    December 17, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  21. HSNP

    Let's face facts. President Obama was handed a lemon and is trying really hard to make lemonade. He deserves our support.

    December 17, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  22. Barbara from Canada

    Considering that President Obama is working in the equivalent of a ultimate fighting ring, with his hands tied, blindfolded, trying to win a fight started by someone else who fought dirty....with nearly all in the arena rooting for him to fail, and those in his corner giving him a hard time also, I give him a solid B+. I find your President to be intelligent, compassionate, deep thinking, and thick skinned. Thank goodness for the last attribute. I, for one, would have told your country to "stuff it" months ago!

    December 17, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  23. independent

    I supported the candidate. I supported the nominee. I support the President.

    December 17, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  24. RCasson

    Keep making us proud Mr. President. The intelligent half of the country is with you!

    December 17, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  25. lila

    That will shift if the health care bill passes and is not revisited later on down the line. there needs to be some safe guards put in place in regards to budgetary measures. I'm not sure why conservatives are against them when the CBO has already reported that the public option reduces the deficit and covers more people. Buying economy size always gives you more product for less money. Buying individual size always gives you less product for more money. It's common sense.

    December 17, 2009 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
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