December 30th, 2009
12:02 PM ET
7 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. NYCitizen

    I, too, believe Obama will wind up being a one term president....the next president, however, should be a real "hard liner" just one step right of Atilla the Hun so we can defeat these darn terrorists and destroy all of their training grounds world wide. I am not kidding. We can have a president strong on national defense, and strong on building our economy, and building our domestic agendas up. Maybe we, as a people, should not always look at whether a candidate is Republican or Democrat. Are there any good Independents out there to vote in? I mean no matter how many registered political parties this country has, it always is either a Repulican or Democrat that is president. Thanks for reading my rant.

    December 30, 2009 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  2. NYCitizen

    P.S. All of our who are not happy with this Administration, please remember that midterms are coming up and you have the right to vote them out and change the balance of the Administration.

    December 30, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  3. Michael from Ventura

    The Obama family is a treasure to this country-by the summer of 2010, most Americans will agree. The Administration has several great people (Hillary for example)- but the leadership we are about to see will amaze. The party of NO has nothing but "NO" to give- and yes we can is still in it's primary stage. Wait and see-
    Meanwhile: Cheney, limbaugh,palin,steele,joe wilson,etc spews their hate and makes their number one goal the failure of the President to Change their mistakes!

    December 30, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  4. Howie

    This tells it all, MOST do not like Obama. He is not a good president. He does not tell the truth and most americans see this in him. His campaign promises are all broken and he really wants the health plan to pass by the time he gives the state of the union address so he can say he did something positive

    December 30, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  5. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    President Obama isn't looking at a 2nd term, so these ratings mean nothing. The President is focusing on cleaning up this mess we're in and that's all that matters. And for anyone who thinks a Republican can win the next election, wrong. Hillary Clinton all the way.

    December 30, 2009 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  6. Tired

    you can stop blaming the Bush administration now........

    December 30, 2009 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  7. If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    Bush will always be the most inept president ever. He earned that award outright because of 9-11. The second terrorist attack by the shoe bomber in Dec. of 2001, only solidified his place as the country's worst president.

    Too bad republicans could not have reined in Bush's spending and tax cuts to the wealthiest 1%. Our grandchildren will be paying for that.

    Notice, I did not attack the party of war for letting the buffoon from Texas fabricate reasons for his unnecessary invasion of Iraq.

    December 30, 2009 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  8. Lori

    So let me get this straight. President Obama's ratings are similar to 2 term President's REAGAN and Clinton around this time in their term, AND Obama has inherited a worse-off economy than them.

    This poll just shows me that a ticket with President Obama and VP Hillary Clinton looks like a sure win in 2012!

    December 30, 2009 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  9. Shibumi

    @ Stinkagain.....Apparently, the polling results show with each passing day, the American public doesn't like your president any better either.
    So keep doing the liberal wack-job two-step: Sip some Kool-Aid, then blame Bushie.
    ONE AND DONE FOR THE STINKLE BARRY

    December 30, 2009 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  10. Harold

    Of course Clinton is more popular; she's only a socialist, while he is a full-blown Marxist loser. And fairly stupid I might add.

    December 30, 2009 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  11. Jefe

    Unbelievable that the Republicans are trying so hard to provide aid and comfort to the terrorists (this is what they accused Democrats of anytime they questioned the Bush Administration). Especially the Chief Diverter of Money to Favored Corporations, Dick Cheney.

    George W. Bush waited 6 days to make any statement concerning the "Shoe Bomber". Obama waits less time, and makes bolder statements, and this is the response of Republicans? I thought elephants were supposed to have great memories...

    December 30, 2009 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  12. BigDem

    Wow, Obama is the First Looser!

    December 30, 2009 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  13. Sue

    I am very proud of the way President Obama is handling his job. If the roles were reversed First Gentlemen Barack Obama would be more popular. They are a wonderful caring couple and have earning the respect they have by the majority of Americans!

    December 30, 2009 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  14. Robin

    Let's face it. Michelle and the girls have had the best year of them all and have been this admistration's saving grace.

    December 30, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  15. gary davis Harbor Oregon proud american

    the president is the best thing that has happened to this country oh hell the world . he is trying with out republican help to make america safe and get us back on our feet . equal rights and fair health coverage . any poll that says he is down is one taken from a total republican area of one tooth idiots . :) the poll is a joke . america voted him into office and we spoke loadly . so poll all you want MR. OBAMA IS DOING A GREAT JOB
    CHANGE IS FINNALLY HERE :)

    December 30, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  16. mjm

    "Fifty-eight percent of people questioned in the survey have a favorable view of Obama.."

    Amazing.....amazingly false. Rasmussen has him at 47%, "slightly" lower than CNN's 58%.

    Obama will be the worst president ever if he isn't already.

    December 30, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  17. Rickster

    If you believe CNN polls then you probably also believe in unicorns and the tooth fairy. I'd be surprised if 10% of the population still views Obama favorably. How could they? He's a total failure and a corrupt liar as well.

    December 30, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  18. Gary

    Pres. Obama has to realize that we are still at war! that Christmas day terrorism attack failed to kill but succeeded to detonate. He needs to get serious about the wars in Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and Somolia. He needs to keep Gitmo open and use a military tribunal system for foreign combatants. He needs a stronger (even military) strategy for how to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons. Obama's refusals to speak frankly and opennly about islamic extremism, terrorism and this war has me very worried.

    December 30, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  19. KathyC in MInnesota

    My faith in President Obama remains high.

    Being President of The United States is NOT a Popularity contest!!! The man has a lot on his plate and he IS doing the job we elected him to do.

    December 30, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  20. usualone

    If Hillary Clinton were the President, she would have the same attacks thrown at her as President Obama. Who knows, maybe she would have received more attacks. She would have inherited the same mess as this President has and would be faced with the same problems. Just the fact that she is a woman would get her in hot water with some of the electorate. This medium gives some the chance to illustrate their hatred of some and they fear no retribution for saying any outlandish things they wish to say. These types seem to never read anything nor do they listen to the leaders, except the hate mongers and fear mongers that permeate the airways.. Maybe if they listened, they would learn that both President Obama and Secretary Clinton have always had similar agendas. We certainly know where Sarah Palin stands...and she feeds into these fear mongers' lines of propaganda.

    December 30, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  21. Obama ... worst President ever!

    Obama has done very well at defining the word: Failure, Idiot, etc.

    December 30, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  22. Jim

    I find the pleas to support "our" president hilarious on here by those that spent 8 years bashing Bush. Really 9 I guess because you are still doing it. "such as President Obama and his Administration inherited a huge mess from Bush & Company and have done many constuctive things to turn our country around" – Are you kidding me? What, like dropping the value of our dollar by 19% since March by overspending and stimulus? Passing healthcare that most Americans have said we don't want? Pushing global warming "science" and crap and trade? Throwing our constitution out the window? Oh, he's turned our country around all right! Numbnuts!

    December 30, 2009 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  23. Lois

    When is someone going to have the courage to stand up and ask Obama to resign....He has no leadership abilities; he is destroying our Country...not his.

    December 30, 2009 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  24. Mississippi Mrs.

    I have a 100 percent negative minus to the tenth degree no good low down opinion of this administration, and that is what I come up with when I factor in the hope and change, and give him the benefit of the doubt, and a scoop of optimism. – 100% and sliding.

    December 30, 2009 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  25. Lois

    Former Republican: get your facts straight....I think it would Clinton that sold us out to China.....keep voting for Obama; we don't need you.

    December 30, 2009 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
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