December 30th, 2009
12:02 PM ET
11 months ago

CNN Poll: President not most popular person in his administration

A new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll indicates that President Obama is not the most popular person in his administration.
A new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll indicates that President Obama is not the most popular person in his administration.

Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama may be the most popular man in his administration, but according to a new national poll, he's not the most popular person.

A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Wednesday indicates that the president's poll numbers pale in comparison to the favorable ratings of two women: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and first lady Michelle Obama.

Fifty-eight percent of people questioned in the survey have a favorable view of Obama, with four in 10 holding an unfavorable view. But the president's favorable rating is 10 points below that of his wife and 6 points behind the secretary of state. According to the poll, 68 percent of the public has a positive opinion of the first lady, with 19 percent holding an unfavorable opinion. Sixty-four percent have a positive view of Clinton, with three in 10 holding an unfavorable view.

Full results (PDF)

The survey indicates that nearly nine out of 10 Democrats have a positive view of the president, with Independents split and more than 3 out of 4 Republicans seeing Obama in an unfavorable way. The president's favorable rating is down 6 points from August and 11 points from April.

A reminder that a favorable rating is not the same as an approval rating: favorable ratings measure how Americans feel about Obama as a person, while an approval rating is an indicator of his job performance in the White House.

According to the poll, most Cabinet officials other than Clinton are not very well known.

"An exception is Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who may be better-known, and better-liked, than the rest because he also served for several years under former President George W. Bush," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

Gates has a 52 percent favorable rating, with 18 percent unfavorable and 3 in 10 unsure. The defense secretary's 55 percent favorable rating among Republicans is one point higher than his rating among Democrats.

Twenty-seven percent of people questioned say they have a favorable opinion of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, with 33 percent holding an unfavorable view and 4 in 10 unsure. The poll indicates Americans are divided on their opinion of Attorney General Eric Holder, with 54 percent unsure. The public also appears to be split on their opinion of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, with 43 percent unsure.

"Geithner and Holder are relatively unknown. So is Bernanke, despite his status as Time magazine's Person of the Year and his high-profile confirmation hearings on Capitol Hill," adds Holland.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted December 16-20, with 1,160 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn


Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (91 Responses)
  1. Mickey

    Making unpopular decisions is never "popular". The Republicans have proven to be nothing but fearmongering racists, with no agenda. The GOP is like the teenager who goes along with the crowd, just to be popular. Well, newsflash hotshot...YOU ARE NOT POPULAR!

    GOP: Evolve or die.

    December 30, 2009 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  2. NC

    I guess it shows The President is doing a good if Republicans are upset.

    December 30, 2009 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  3. Chris - Denver

    Last time I checked, it wasn't supposed to be a popularity contest.

    December 30, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  4. aware

    By the way, I am an Independent. Obama is a weak loser! Vote for the new Independent "Hillary" in 2012! :)

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

    He is the administration that you helped build media.

    December 30, 2009 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  6. sifto77

    MO is NOT as popular as Sarah Palin! She deserves no admiration as she is not a lover of America–only since her husband became pres is she proud of her country. The libs admire her now because Axelrod ordered her mouth taped shut........

    December 30, 2009 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  7. Carlos Averhoff

    Well he should be. He is an articulate, transformational President that when all is said and done will be one of our greatests!

    December 30, 2009 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  8. Reason

    Our President is doing a wonderful job under the conditions he came into office. Regardless of what he does good, he will never satisfy his critics or should I say the Republican party.

    It is easy to be critical but it is difficult to align yourself with being a part of the solution. The history of education has taught us that when a person speaks, whatever they say uncovers their feelings but often paints a clear picture of their intellect.

    December 30, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  9. The Lady

    Most people are not interested in these polls any more, they have moved on trying to focus on important issues like the economy, health care. Also I really do not know who is taking these polls because majority of the people I know say they are not taking these polls because they really do not matter now.

    December 30, 2009 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  10. wets

    Let's just refer to President Obama as the 'biggest farce in our history of a country President." He's a 49yr old, narcissitic, chicago thug style politician and America doesn't want that. He campaigned moderate, but is showing his true colors. He's a muslim sympathizer who would throw most American's under the bus to pass his pathetic legislation. He is a 1 term president just like the disasterous Carter.

    December 30, 2009 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  11. Razorback

    Using Ray Fisher's logic, GWB was just doing his job! Only the rabid critics were Democrats and most of the people on this board.
    Answer me this: why do you suddenly want civility to be the norm now, when it hasn't been for Bush, Cheney or Palin for 9+ years now?

    December 30, 2009 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  12. www.circleparkforum.com

    Obama has failed to use his popularity to advance good policies on behalf of the American people.

    The "Obama" brand needs to be eliminated so that we can hold him accountable for what he does and does not do.

    Obama failed to fight for real health care reform, for example, because he still thinks that all he has to do is flash his smile and pat the American people on the head as he gets away with screwing us over and collecting campaign contributions from us and getting our votes.

    Enough.

    December 30, 2009 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  13. Hey Big Spender

    Told yah so

    December 30, 2009 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  14. LLM from MD

    I love my President and difficult tasks he face. He's doing the better than anyone else I can think of...I would not want to have these problems on my shoulders.

    THANK YOU MR. PRESIDENT!! KEEP UP THE A+ JOB!!

    December 30, 2009 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  15. Ex-NC-Pub

    Is there a poll for best breath? Never in my life have I seen so much spent on something so worthless.

    December 30, 2009 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  16. Patti

    How could anyone have an unfavorable view of the First Lady? She has been exemplary in her duties and is a wonderful mother. I guess it's just the racist republican 19%

    December 30, 2009 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
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