January 12th, 2010
01:32 PM ET
4 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. Rob

    Guess he should get an Oscar for playing the role of a president while not actually being one.

    January 12, 2010 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  2. harvey

    this idiot (Obama), is going to go down as the most ineffective president in american history. His idiocy would be comical if it wasnt dangerous, and going to cost our children and grand children so much.

    January 12, 2010 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  3. Eric Prince II

    "On the plus side for Obama, he remains personally popular and he gets decent ratings on foreign policy and national security issues." Man, what are you guys smoking?

    January 12, 2010 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  4. Nancy

    This is the trend that the Rasmussen poll identified weeks ago. Mr. Obama is seeing the ratings in most areas of policy plummet. Washington is a political mess.

    As an independent, I am tired of both parties pointing fingers at each other. Let's just try to get the economy moving in a healthy direction, without government interference. Let's try to deal rationally, and realistically, with the threat from foreign and domestic terrorists. And, rather than blaming previous administrations for the problems, just move forward and get things solved. Now, that would truly be change we could believe in.

    January 12, 2010 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  5. Michelle

    Obama needs to resign. Our nation cannot afford him.

    January 12, 2010 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  6. valwayne

    48% of the American people give Obama an F for failure for his first year. He gives himself a B+, A- when they pass healthcare. Is he out of touch or what? Trillions and trillions in corrupt wasted spending and debt. The Louisiana Purchase and the Cornhusker Kickback! And lately the Underwear bomber who has been read his rights and given a lawyer even though is suddenly seems to have dawned on Obama that we are at war. Sabatuers sent, out of uniform, to murder innocent civilians are subject to interrogation and summary execution. Yet Obama is preparing to spend tens of millions more for another Circus trial. Oh Yes....10% UNEMLOYMENT! How could 47% of the American people think that is a success?

    January 12, 2010 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  7. NC

    We can thank the party of NO (GOP) For some of the Domestic Issues. Everything the President has tried to do to help us get the Economy going they are against. The GOP is for sending more of our troops to war, As I said before the GOP is for sending our troops to fight anybody, anytime anywhere, The Gop stands for (Good Ole Pickpockets). They pick our pockets and LIE to us.

    January 12, 2010 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  8. Ken

    I do not think that American tax payers are split on the results. It has obviously been a painful failure, that we will be paying for over decades.

    January 12, 2010 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  9. T'SAH from Virginia

    The next president – if it is a WOMAN – is going to get the SAME SCRUTINY people are giving President Obama!!!!!

    Anything that is DIFFERENT from the so-called NORMAL eyes of America – which seems to be ONE color and ONE gender – will be SCRUTINIZED unnecessary and BASHED constantly. Those SAME so-called NORMAL eyes of America would NEVER see any good in President Obama even though GOOD is obvious and staring them in the face!!!

    I can count the number of POLLS on President Obama for the past year and I guarantee you it's close to or more than a thousand!!! Jeez!

    January 12, 2010 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  10. Dan

    Traditionally economic woes are blamed on the sitting president even if he has had little to do with it. If, as expected, unemployment declines by even a few points by the next presidential cycle, he should have no problem being reelected.

    January 12, 2010 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  11. Joe Fattal

    Did anyone expect Obama do to any better?. The man have hardly any experience in his four years as a Senator. It imight take him another four years just to know not to make another"Beer Summit" in the Rose Garden. And his wife Michelle to grow vegetables in the White House backyard. Lets wait until 2011, another campaign, another revival and maybe the second coming of our savior will be more promising.

    January 12, 2010 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  12. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    President Obama is doing a great job! The party of NO has been working overtime to make him look bad, but he will survive!!!!!

    January 12, 2010 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  13. Terry from West Texas

    A big problem is the so-called "moderates" who are like blades of grass. They bend with the wind. They flinch at the tiniest surprise. They are the kind of people who, when on a 100 mile journey, will turn around after 49 miles, saying they are tired. They don't think things through. They are applause meters. If everyone likes Obama, they are for Obama. If people criticize Obama, they are against Obama. If a Liberal program isn't 100% successful on day 1, they figure that the best thing to do is throw the Liberals out and vote for Conservatives. When the Conservative do-nothing government fails to do anything except invade the wrong country and run up the national debt, then they vote for Liberals again.

    Wishy-washy, namby pamby.

    The only thing that Ann Coulter ever said that I agree with is: "You either have to be a Liberal or a Conservative. If you call yourself a 'moderate' that means that you have the IQ of a toaster."

    That's paraphrased. You can look it up.

    January 12, 2010 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  14. Joe

    Definetely a miserable failure. The Indies and DAMEs really feel sorry for him now since the "HOPE" and "CHANGES" he promised are slipping away very quickly.

    January 12, 2010 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  15. Todd

    By any objective standard President Obama is doing a great job. Look at any graph of any data you want and he is doing a stellar job of undoing the disaster of conservatism. However, there are two things going against him. It is difficult to get out the message of how big of a bullet we dodged. It is hard enough for the average citizen to grasp even the most rudimentary economic or political issues, let alone the magnitude of the disasters left behind by the blithely incompetent bush administration and his sycophants in the congress.

    And the other constant problem is republicons lying in unison. The only thing they actually do well. It creates a flase impression that what theysay has some validity bcause you hear it from so many different sources, although the truth is that it all comes from one source and the rpublicon/conservative trolls just repeat whatever they are told to think on any given day.

    January 12, 2010 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  16. Monster Zero

    Hmmm, those polled for the positive must be Government employee's that have yet seen any layoffs or cutbacks. Isn't it funny how the private sector growth and development industry is DOA yet all those bureaucrats are still getting an over inflated weekly paycheck for sitting behind a desk to review absolutely nothing?

    January 12, 2010 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  17. OttoDog

    "The poll also indicates that 1 in 10 say that Obama has not been liberal enough."

    That tidbit there should shut the mouths of all those Garafalo-style "progressives" who claim that Obama's disapproval rating stems from his (limited) efforts to work with the majority of the American public that opposes socialism

    January 12, 2010 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  18. Kevin B

    I gotta give Mr Obama credit for taking on tough issues; such as health care reform, making the difficult call on afghanistan, reform of the out of control banking sector, and an economy left in shambles by the recalictrant, do nothing republican party.

    The only reason 48 percent say he is a failure is because they are mindless, willfully ignorant and spend all of thier time listening to the ehco chamber of hate and fear on Fox news and the AM talk radio buffoons.

    No one is angry, but the devil !

    January 12, 2010 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  19. Alan in Marietta, GA

    Failure...Rush Limbaugh must be riding the articles at CNN. No where in the results does it say people think the first year is a failure.

    January 12, 2010 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  20. Justen in Florida

    Pretty bad news for Obama, considering this is a CNN poll.

    Wonder what the unbiased polls look like.

    January 12, 2010 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  21. LoachDriver

    In part because I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in West Africa (Group Liberia One) I was pleased to see Obama elected president. Also, his election was definitely a plus for the American image abroad, but as an American nationalist & patriot I'm distressed by Obama's clearly evident lack of both of those characteristics.

    Although I understand because Obama spent his formative years studying Islam & the Koran in an Indonesian madrass he therefore naturally retains a deep affection for Islam I'd prefer in the presidency one who is not lacking in traditional American nationalism & patriotism. Consequently, I won't vote for Obama for a second term in office.

    January 12, 2010 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  22. rs

    It may be tough to say Obama is successful (yet), but given the horrific nature of the past 8 years, and the completely poisonous political environment the Republicans have created in Congress, I'll stick with Obama and the Democrats for the time being.

    January 12, 2010 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  23. Sgt. USMC

    The economy is better than it was a year ago. How can we complain? How is the greed and the corruption within Wall Street Obama's fault? How can we expect him to clean it up after 8 years of failed policies from the bush administration? Let's be smart people! Don't expect everything to change over night. These things take time and if you have a job you can't complain. If you were laid off from your job, blame the corporations, the banks and wall street for failing to adapt to a weak economy. Blame them for not acting fast enough. Blame Bush for leaving us the mess to deal with. 2 wars, National security, climate change, the economy... it's not that easy and I don't know anyone else who could have done a better job.

    January 12, 2010 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  24. Censoring again? Callahan

    It is really too early to give a 'approval' of the job of our current President..
    Citiznes are still waiting to see the outcome of Cap and Trade (I'm against) that was long ago 'set up' but not conductive to todays needs of Amerrica; The Health Care Bill is too shaky (needs better definition, definate modifications, and cost cutting); Various appointments have yet to be made (certainly better veting is needed); Green energy is more words than action at this point (how is it helping Main Street America?); and so on....I think I'll reserve my view of what he has accomplished so far and will wait and see the real outcome of his decision making. Though in the positive, I will give him an A on his decision of troop surge for Afghanistan, though we will have to see just what the real impact is on empowering the tribes for their own success.

    January 12, 2010 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  25. Chinaz

    Intractable opposition from the right is a given for Obama. However he and his corrupt Democratic congress have gone out of their way to alienate the very people who supported his election. With this snub to the Democratic base I don't know which is worse the arrogance from Democratic leadership or the obliviousness of it. By selling out and not meeting his base even halfway on campaign promises Mr. Obama can count on losing his grassroots support which was what made Democrats so strong in 2008. They have shown us where their loyalties really are in 2009. Health "reform" that is merely a giant insurance subsidy paid for by the middle class and no one else. This so called health "reform" that only props up a broken unfair insurance system. Bailouts for so bankers can give themselves bonuses. Meanwhile job losses continue and the housing market sinks lower under unabated foreclosures. Everything Obama has done is pretty near opposite of what he promised. Obama should go on Punked. He's really good at it. He could make an excellent one term show punking his base. We have not seen any change that we can believe in. I hope Democrats lose big in 2010.

    January 12, 2010 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
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