December 30th, 2009
12:02 PM ET
3 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. sammieb51

    And he couldn't lose out to two finer women either!

    December 30, 2009 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  2. Mississippi Mrs.

    I wish there was a word for this administration. I just keep thinking 'bunch of bozos'. There just isn't any way to describe them, so I will make up a a word. Serialidiots.

    December 30, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  3. Royster

    I wonder if Dick Cheney knows about this poll??? I think Dick is busy pretending he still has a political office and clout!

    December 30, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  4. rachel

    Good for Hillary and Michelle. I am not a big Obama supporter, but I think its disgusting the way the GOP is jumping on this underwear bomb story. I remeber waiting on pins and needles for president Bush to reassure us after the Shoe bomber it took him about 6 days and people gave him time and this was after 9/11 for shame Republicans for shame.

    December 30, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  5. Chipster

    He may not win "Miss Congeniality" either. Being President is bound to make a person unpopular with a lot of people, especially if he does the job right. I'm not going to agree with every policy but it sure beats the last 8 years of complete incompetence, greed, and mismanagement. It's going to take a long time to recover from the Bush disaster!

    December 30, 2009 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  6. mjm

    "former republican....I don't want you to be a one-termer. But you have got to be more moderate. Bush sold us out to China a long time ago, its time for some conservative fiscal spending"

    You voted for the most liberal senator ever, and now you want him to be a fiscal conservative? Not going to happen.....ever.

    December 30, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  7. Joe M

    This is NOT the end of attacks against this country during, the next 3 years only the beginning..Expect many more....El-Quida, the Taliban, and all the rest of these nut jobs know for a fact that Obama, is just plain stupid, all he cares about is himself and getting reelected..He has not done one thing to prevent attacks and wont..He will protect this guy to the limit and then lie about what a great job he is doing..

    He should have fired that loser in Homeland Security on Saturday. She is just another POLITICAL HACK JOB like Obama himself and he surrounds him self with as many as he can appoint..

    ONE and DONE for this loser..

    December 30, 2009 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  8. Jefe

    seebofubar – 'Here in Illinois we knew it a long time ago.'

    Maybe south of I-80. The rest of us knew and still know that while Obama is still part of "The D.C. Machine", he's a VAST improvement over the previous administration. If we had continued the rate of increase in unemployment of the Bush Administration's final 17 months, the unemployment rate will stand at 12% by May. Thankfully, the rate of increase has been diminished under Obama. Just imagine where we would be if we kept going in the same direction.

    Remember, GDP vs Deficit has been MUCH better for decades when a Democrat is president. The exception here is that the government and the privately-owned federal reserve averted total economic collapse throuogh Keynesian economics.

    December 30, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  9. mjm

    "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."

    Boy, and I was afraid this poll was useless....

    December 30, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  10. Laura

    I knew Obama himself must have fared pretty well in this poll when I saw that the headline CNN was going with was "Obama less popular than the First Lady or Hillary!" 58% favorability...not bad, Mr. President, especially since the media has spent the last several months telling us all about how you've been tanking in the polls!

    And as others have pointed out, it's no surprise that Michelle and Hillary did better. Michelle Obama isn't President. She doesn't have to make controversial decisions that, by necessity, are going to anger large chunks of the population. The same is true to a lesser extent of Hillary Clinton.

    But, I guess that's the so-called liberal media at work...determined to find a way to spin good poll results for the President as being "bad news for Obama."

    December 30, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  11. Palin 2012

    Can`t believe Michelle is so admired...she`s nothing...except a cold,uncaring liberal elitist.

    December 30, 2009 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  12. SocialismBad

    Obama not the most popular???!!! My, my, my... How the Messiah hath fallen! Could it be his radical left wing agenda???

    December 30, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  13. Steve

    Mr. President,

    Coming from a combat veteran who served in the U.S Army, the message you are sending to our troops is one of complacency. You need to act, and act now. Stop talking as if you are trying to come up with the perfect politically correct answer or words, to appease everyone. Troops in theater need to know you are taking action, or have a zero tolerance stance on terrorism, forgein and domestic. Be the sharp end of the stick, strike first, fast and violently.

    December 30, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  14. disappointed democrat

    Democrat here who is very disappointed in Obamas leadership on the health insurance bill. The Senate bill is a boom to the insurance companies and there honestly is nothing in the bill that they cannot live with. Too bad Obama did not insist on some cost containment measures. I know of one lady in the administration who would have done that if she was president.
    I hope he starts to lead not follow.

    December 30, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  15. Doles

    I'll tell ya why polls are, or should I say people, so stupid: can anyone really say what is it Hillary Clinton has done differently since the last time her numbers were said to be in the tank? Has she really changed that much? I mean, I never agreed with those who hated her to begin with. But now all of a sudden she's so popular? What did she do to make people change their minds? That tells you how unsure people are. So yes, sit down and criticize those elected officials because you're not the ones making the hard decision. No wonder we can't find the perfect elected leader we're all looking for because we refuse to look in the mirrors and see that we're the problems.

    December 30, 2009 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  16. Lost in Texas FOREVER

    it seems that in both polls those that lean to the center or left are more popluar than those who lean to the right or far right. Seems like the right wing talk show hosts got it wrong once again.

    December 30, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  17. AJ

    Hillary and Michelle rock! Barry? Not so much...

    December 30, 2009 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  18. cat

    Ladies first. Obama is a gentleman even when he is not trying.
    What a guy!!!!!

    December 30, 2009 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  19. simp

    nycitizen "hillary would have been a better president" now how in the hell can you say that? hilliary would have walked into this mess just President Obama did. you ignorant people who keep making the stupid remarks make me sick. President Obama is having such a hard time because he is AFRICAN AMERICAN. I don't care what anybody say, that's why white american/GOP want to see him fail. Don't get me wrong I have nothing against Hillary but if she would have won, she would have caught hell to, because she is a woman. I'm so glad the President ignores these stupid polls, they are ridiculous.

    December 30, 2009 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  20. aware

    Obama is a dangerous, clueless "prince of prevarication" and "twister of facts" who is showing the world just how weak he is! :(

    Vote for the new Republican "Hillary" in 2012! :)

    December 30, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  21. cynt

    @tate's comments. "leave the big island that my tax dollars are paying for" hey stupid tate. I love the fact that you think you are paying for the President's vaction, look idiot, the President has plenty of money, after all he is the President and guess what? he has money from his books so your little chump change is sooooooo not important, the firs family will be back when they get ready. LOLLLLLLLL

    December 30, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  22. Maria

    I am proud of President Obama and Michelle they are both positive examples.

    December 30, 2009 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  23. Edwin

    No one likes a president as much after one year, unless some disaster unifies the country. But he is still above 50 percent, which is pretty good in a disastrous economy and two inherited wars.

    December 30, 2009 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  24. Kris

    I believe that the president is doing a good job. We have to remember that we inherited a MESS from the last 8 years from an administration that did NOTHING to help American people and everything to further their own agenda. Let us not forget that the Bush administration was the most corrupt and inept administration in American History. Our country literally went head first into a brick wall during that travesty of justice. They were the only administration in history that actually tried and accomplished reducing Civil Rights for hard working tax paying Americans.

    December 30, 2009 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  25. taylllor

    Come on were we polling other presidents with all the problems they created before this president, looks like skin color is the issue, beleive me the others make some big mistake that don't get dicussed or polled.

    December 30, 2009 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
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