January 12th, 2010
01:32 PM ET
5 years ago

CNN Poll: Americans split on success of Obama presidency

Americans are giving Barack Obama a split decision on his first year in office, according to a new national poll.
Americans are giving Barack Obama a split decision on his first year in office, according to a new national poll.

Washington (CNN) - Americans are giving Barack Obama a split decision on his first year in office, according to a new national poll.

Forty-eight percent of people questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Tuesday say Obama's presidency has been a failure so far, with 47 percent saying Obama has been a success. The poll's January 12 release comes just 8 days before Obama marks one year in the White House.

Full results (PDF)

The survey indicates that Obama's approval rating as president stands at 51 percent, down 3 points from last month, with 48 percent disapproving, up 4 points from December.

"On the plus side for Obama, he remains personally popular and he gets decent ratings on foreign policy and national security issues. That may explain why his overall approval rating is a little higher than the number who say Obama's first year has been a success," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Unfortunately for Obama, domestic issues - led by the economy - are far more important to the public than foreign policy issues, and a majority disapprove of how he is handling every single economic and domestic issue tested."

According to the survey, the economy by far remains issue No. 1 with Americans, with 47 percent saying it is the most important issue facing the country today - up 7 points from last month. Health care, at 15 percent, is the second most important issue with the public, followed by the deficit at 11 percent. Terrorism is tied with the deficit, and up 7 points from last month, most likely do to widespread coverage of the attempted terrorist bombing of a U.S. airliner on Christmas Day.

The dominance of domestic issues in importance is most likely a contributing factor to the slight dip in Obama's overall approval rating.

"Only 44 percent approve of how Obama is handling the economy; just 4 in 10 give him a thumbs-up on health care and his approval rating on the federal deficit has plunged to 36 percent. Those are three of the four most important issues on the public's mind today," says Holland. "The president's ratings also suffer from the growing perception that he is too liberal - 46 percent feel that way today, up 10 points from March.

The poll also indicates that 1 in 10 say that Obama has not been liberal enough. But while the public takes issue with Obama on the issues, two-thirds continue to believe that he has the leadership skills and personal characteristics that a president should have, and that may explain why his overall approval is so much higher than his rating on the issues of greatest concern to the public.

The president can also take heart in the fact that his 51 percent approval rating is nearly twice as high as the approval rating for Congress. As the House of Representatives comes back into session Tuesday, only 27 percent of Americans have a favorable view of Congress.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted Friday through Sunday, with 1,021 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

– CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report


Filed under: CNN poll • Popular Posts • President Obama
soundoff (298 Responses)
  1. Dale

    People vote with their wallets. When the economy rebounds, so will Obama's ratings and he will be re-elected as it should be. If the economy stagnates for another 3 years... then good bye Obama, as it should be.

    So the Republicans who hate all things Obama have yet another reason to cheer against America. If the economy sucks, Republicans gain politically. If terrorists succeed in attacking the US, then Republicans gain politically. If Obama fails to get the Olympic games to Chicago, then the Republicans gain politically. No wonder the Republicans "hope he fails." (Their words, not mine.) Politics before country.

    January 12, 2010 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  2. CITIZEN

    Ahhhhhh – My guess would be – the VOTERS followed the WRONG SHEEP !

    January 12, 2010 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  3. LeAnne, OH

    This American isn't split. I think he's doing a great job. He's the only president who has to contend with a whacko ex-Vice President whose sole purpose in life is to bring him down.

    Did you notice the guerilla tactics of his daughter this weekend? Whenever someone speaks, she talks over them, so that person will not have a sound bite. She's the lowest of the low next to her war criminal father.

    Yes, President Obama is doing fine and he will be re-elected. Trust me.

    January 12, 2010 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  4. eric in Denver

    Is there any surprise here other than the fact that CNN mentioned this? This guy is a complete disaster. Even the left is starting to realize that his policies and decisions are misguided and flat out bad for our country. Blaming Bush worked for his election but that argument is not working any more and our country is finally starting to see that. The defeat in NJ and Virginia was a signal of how our country is starting to feel about the democratic party. If you think that is a fluke look at the polls for senate in Massachussetts. An unknown republican is actually neck and neck with a democrat in the most democratic state in the country. That should speak volumes right there

    January 12, 2010 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  5. Nobody Special

    Goes to show you the power of the GOPs media machine: Shift the focus away from 8 years of horrible policies, and to a president who has not yet been in office 12 months.

    As an indie, and a thinking person, I'll wait at least 3 more years before passing judgement.

    I will tell you this much: Had McCain/Palin won the election, we'd be in much worse shape.

    January 12, 2010 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  6. Obama reads his lies, unions thrive, gov't grows, national debt grows, our freedoms and our economy dies.

    Let me see, He's taken over the auto industry, he is trying to regulate the hell out of Wall Street to the point nobody would seriously consider investing in the US anytime soon, he has quadrupled the debt in one year, he wants to mode our healthcare after a socialist system like the UK or Canada that is bankrupting the UK and providing compromised care at a huge cost to the Canadian worker, he wants to destory our industries and put them at a competitive disadvantage to other countries with Cap and Trade (Tax), he wants to provide more strength to unions with Cardcheck which will destroy our competitiveness even more, he wants to give illegals a pass to US citizenship, he wants to negotiate with our enemies and be weak on national defence, and give our enemies the same rights as an American citizen in our court system.

    I think if you prefer Imperialism, Socialism or Communism, he is a great president. if you are an freedom loving American, that believes in the American dream, and the American people that love our Constitution, he is well on his way of becoming the worst thing that has ever happenned to this country.

    January 12, 2010 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  7. GB

    I get it that, in general, most of us aren't thrilled with some of the things going on right now with and through the Obama Adminstration. But what I don't get is that people consider him a failure. The man has only been in office for 1 year. Good grief! Give the man a chance! Or, maybe it's that we don't want to repeat voting in a President for a 2nd term that we consider as not doing so well on the home-front (remember GW Bush?). Like former Presidents, this President came into office with rose-colored glasses. Then he sat down at his desk and surprise...things just aren't so easy to do...especially when you have the Congress and Senate to deal with. I say, get over the President and get to voting the Congress and Senate OUT OF OFFICE and get some new blood in both of them. Then, maybe this President and the next one can get something significant accomplished! And yeah, let's put a cap on their tenures just like we have on the office of the President. This lifetime crap is for the birds.

    January 12, 2010 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  8. AEK

    It is so unfortunate that the last Republican administration was not as open and forthright with what was really happening with our government, at home, with our economy, and of course with the dirty little wars in which they were engaging the United States. Because of this deception, the job of the Obama administration first of all was to break the bad news to the people, and THEN go about cleaning up the mess President Bush and his team of liars left behind. The billions of dollars the deficit rose as they gave away the farm to all their rich contributors, the billions of dollars for their dirty little wars and all of it nicely hidden from the people of the United States. A very difficult row to hoe for President Obama dealing with that and our thirty-minute sitcom mentality. The fact that the people who perpetrated this mess are also the ones blocking every effort to clean it up is just so, just so...Republican!

    January 12, 2010 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  9. Scott Pilgrim

    I would venture a guess that "most people" don't actually know enough about politics to know whether Obama is a success or failure. Most of what people know is what they are told through filtered media programs designed to portray the President and his agenda in either a good or bad light depending on their political sway.
    It's also only been one year. The problems facing our country are complex enough that it SHOULD take more than one year to fix them, especially given thay many smart people prior to the current President have already had a crack at solving them. Give it time, be patient, and stop wanting immediate answers to complex/convoluted issues!
    Just for the record, this comment is coming from a Republican!!

    January 12, 2010 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  10. Ron

    Yep a Pure failure. The seniors won't be able to afford the basic medicare. The dollar will be worthles and prices will start to go up because of his socilist policies. America will not be the land of the free for any one 10 or younger unless he is stopped at least his admin. and plans.
    And that's going to be a fact. Support the second amendment . It is the last freedom we really have.

    January 12, 2010 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  11. jim

    The US government as a whole is a failure to the American people, unless you're rich.

    January 12, 2010 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  12. Robert J

    This type of polling and the responses in the negative indicate the negative collective IQ of both supposedly educated people and the media for conducting it.
    How may times must it be asked how one man can erase what it took the whole republican party 15 plus years to accomplish? How could any party or person change all of that in one year? The dis service the republicans and their ignorant backers have done to this country is criminal. From Bush down to the lowest person hired to hand out pamphlets. How is this poll of any imporatance whatsoever when the likes of McCain / Palin/ Steele/ Gingerich/ Limbaugh and other republicans openly show and demonstrate their stupidity. How can the media consider it newsworthy.? These people and those like them are a disgrace and bring shame to the United States and for which it stands!

    January 12, 2010 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  13. ronald davis

    ok let me see..... tens years of failure. and we have yet to proclaim Bush as such. vs. one year on a clean up job.... WOW....... WELCOME TO AMERICA...kkk!.

    January 12, 2010 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  14. Mike

    And half of Americans have an IQ less than 100. For crying out loud, it's way too early for any reasonable person to make a judgment like this. If every president was judged as a success or failure by the 1st year of their term, that implies that GWB did a pretty good job!

    January 12, 2010 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  15. Jack

    No matter what the polls say, or what the American people say, Obama will consider himself a total success. The reason he believes this is because he believes his agenda for a EuroSocialist type society is what is best for America. He does not believe that the majority of Americans really know what is best for themselves that he and a group of "elitest" are the only ones that know the true path.

    So irregardless of what Americans want or what Americans think he will continue on this path with a group of followers intent upon making the governemnt responsible for at least 50% of the people using the other 50%'s hard earned paychecks.

    It is a sad time for the U.S. as we enter our period of decline. Paul Kennedy is certainly busy writing the newest edition of "rise and fall of great powers".

    January 12, 2010 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  16. chris l

    funny how most other polls have him under 50% approval. As a matter of fact the new CBS poll has his approval at a new all time low of 46%. Didnt CNN put out a poll yesterday which stated the the majority of Americans trust the Obama administration on handling National Security? C'mon CNN when are you going to cut the nonsense and admit that you have been bought and paid for by the Obama administration. In the very least you should try to hide it better. Isn't it embarrassing? Hell, your ratings are lower than the terrorist symapthizer network MSNBC. Maybe you should consider a new approach. How about honesty? Just a thought.

    January 12, 2010 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  17. obama the liar

    this community organizer is still confusing me..is he in the unions pockets or are they in his pockets??we all know the trial lawyers are in his pockets.

    January 12, 2010 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  18. Mark Musser

    Why isnt the poll on the home page working??? Don't you want to see
    the TRUE opinion. I will guarantee an honest poll will show a majority
    of people will say he's a failure. He is no where near qualified for the
    post he holds. And has surrounded hisself with inept people that
    have never ran a business. And few have ever worked in the private sector. And NO you cant count think tanks, or community organizers
    what a joke.

    January 12, 2010 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  19. Jonathan

    He didn't fail, he simply did next to nothing he promised as well as let many opportunities For Change, slide into the abyss.
    He's weak, inexperienced, and he is a Puppet for the Democrats just as George W. was Puppet for the Republicans.
    And the Nation is still a mess.

    January 12, 2010 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  20. Ray Fisher

    The Health Care issue has unfortunately dominated his presidency while the economy should have been Priority One!!! We have yet to see the Do-nothing Congress pass financial legislation not to mention the President's Agenda. America is on Hold pending politics yet again!!!

    January 12, 2010 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  21. Claude

    Obviously it's the ignorant ones who think it's been a failure. With all he's had to deal with, few if any would have done better, and probably most would have done much worse.

    January 12, 2010 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  22. Proud to be a Liberal American in Boulder

    Funny.

    I thought that President Obama "inherited" two essentially lost wars, the worst economy since the Great Depression, the reality of tens of millions of uninsured Americans, the systemic corruption of Washington, Wall Street, and Corporate American, and, in general, the eight year-legacy of the most corrupt and incompetent presidency in American history.

    And he was understood to clean up all this mess in less than a year?

    Come on, America!!! When are we going to grow up? Let's get over our propensity for instant gratification. And when are we going to confront the fact that Corporate America and Wall Street and the Republican Party have been fleecing us for decades?

    P.S. Here is a thought, although hardly original… I wonder if the “type” of American who falls for Oral Roberts also “corresponds” with the type who falls for Sarah Palin and the platitudes of the Republican Party. One needn’t wonder for long: the answer will be obvious to any educated and concerned American.

    January 12, 2010 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  23. joe mett

    Short span mentality. A failure just in one year over a four-years one term period. Is this poll worth anything but that the tea party folks and the republicans would never be satisfied.

    January 12, 2010 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  24. Orange Curtain, CA

    1/2 the nation is Republican/Teabaggers so of course they will say no to EVERYTHING Obama does

    January 12, 2010 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  25. Amber

    After one year most of the American people still do not know the full extent of the Obama agenda with respect to health care and the devastation of the cap and trade hoax. If reporters and real journalists were to actually do their jobs and report, expose and critique these issues alone, you would find Obama's polls plummeting. But, the media chooses to stay mum and in the bag for the Democratic Party. I wonder how many people will be able to afford new computers and the daily newspaper in a couple of years if this economy killing agenda is allowed to survive? Oh, the unintended consequences of destroying America.....Shame on you CNN! We used to be accustomed to so much more from you and your reporters. The American people are at the edge of the cliff and you stand ready to push them over by not providing the info they need to see the light and destruction at the end of this tunnel. I double dog dare you to post this!!!!

    January 12, 2010 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
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