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. lac42

    Obama would settle for a box of band-aids as a health care reform bill, and financial aid to medical insurance companies, if that would get a Republican to vote for health care reform. Obama has a blind spot as big as the Republican Party toward real reform. Shame on Obama. We need real reform, not baloney. We need reform now, not in 4 years. Obama lied to those who voted for him. Obama promised "real change has come to Washington." Obama lied big. I hope he feels some shame at some point in his life for this.

    January 12, 2010 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  2. Jessica

    I get so tired of people saying that Obama is faling. HELLO! He has only been in office for a year. Do you really think he is going to be able to even make a dent in the mess that was created during the eight years of Bush! It's going to take a lot more than one term to fix the mess this country is in! Wake up people!

    January 12, 2010 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  3. Indy

    No one should expect that Obama would have success in one year. It is ludicrous to think that the problems of the past 8 years combined with an reccession like no other, would have any President calling one measley year a sucess. The important factor is he is heading in the right direction and every indication is that he has the country going forward and not backwards anymore. He is investing in the future and any economist will tell you he has done some of the right things without a doubt.Every successful country has spent in down times and invested in the future.Take the largest corporation in the world to the brink of destruction, and ask if it can be straightened out in one year. Impossible to do, but to make strides like Obama has is a great start.Keep in mind he has done all of this with the opposition doing everything possible at any cost to destroy his sucess.A long time from now economists will be using his strategies in how to come back from the brink of utter destruction.You can't even begin to grade someone with the tasks at hand that Obama has in 365 days. Third year at best when you can expect any measurable results.It would have been over by now if a Republican got back into the Whitehouse so there should be some appreciation for what he has done in such a small amount of time.

    January 12, 2010 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  4. white female

    Oh please stop with the Poll stuff, we know everytime President Obama goes left you'll go right with the polls, and when he goes right You'll go Left with the issues. If he was rolling out all A's with ethe domestic issues you would say the National issues with his draw back.
    Please stop with this stuff, CNN and the polls from the Rpub's haters.
    We can do better in judging this President, He is doing a very fine job.
    Even after stepping into the mess that you Repub's left for him

    January 12, 2010 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  5. can he make a good cup of coffee?

    wow it only took 1 year. For bush it took 5 years of daily attacks and smears. it must mean we are all racist.

    January 12, 2010 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  6. Andrew Broering

    If you say you're going to cut spending, and then just add more to the deficit...well, it's not shocking really.

    January 12, 2010 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  7. Sarah

    A failure??? Have you all forgotten his predecessor and the huge mess he left behind? Obama has been stellar, a breath of fresh air, and perhaps those who sees him as a failure are the same who voted for McCain and are just raging to see all he has done so well in such a short time.

    January 12, 2010 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  8. Bedtime for Obonzo

    Can't wait for the Obamabots' reactions:

    "No one polled me!"
    "This poll is biased against cell phone users!"
    "CNN is a tool of the military/industrial complex!"
    "George Bush remains responsible for everything bad!"

    January 12, 2010 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  9. socalgal

    The true failure here is the American public who put this empty suit in office–and sadly who can't figure out where they went wrong and so will make the same mistake again the next time they vote for whomever.

    January 12, 2010 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  10. Jim

    47% Believe Obama has been a success. Who are these people. Obama has been a miserable failure at best. That is as kind as I can be.

    January 12, 2010 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  11. Average Guy in Red-State Kansas

    It doesn't take a particle physicist to realize that the poll's negative numbers are a reflection of the GOP's sophomoric attacks on President Obama.

    Likewise, even someone of lesser intellect can draw a direct line between "the party of no" and media reports about those"brilliant" attacks that helped create this negative dynamic.

    Let's put this all into perspective and remind Mr. Obama's detractors that he inherited an absolute mess from President Bush, and that fixing those monumental problems can't be accomplished in a year.

    And, oh yeah, CNN: You should be proud of yourself for helping torpedo not only Mr. Obama's reputation but help divide the country, too.

    January 12, 2010 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  12. BODY SCAN OBOMA'BRAIN

    MAY THE IMPEACHMENT PROCEEDINGS BEGIN!

    IF THESE BODY SCANNERS GO FORWARD I HEAR BY CHARGE BARAK HUSSAIN OBAMA IN VIOLATION OF THE FOURTH AMENDMENT OF THE U.S. CONSTITUTION.

    January 12, 2010 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  13. Anderson

    Paul Steinhauser and Wolf Blitz are going force to say anything bad about Obama. If one follows them every day, Steinhauser make the Poll and Blitzer comes to Situation Room and tries to negate what ever he got from his shallow brain and wolf mouth

    January 12, 2010 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  14. Ken in Pisgah Forest

    Employment numbers are on the cusp of looking much better, and when that happens, his numbers will improve. People forget that the reacession started in October of 2007 and that we narrowly averted an economic disaster in September of 2008, before Obama became president. He is the relief pitcher in this case.

    Most Americans don't trust their health insurance companies, or their employers, who provide the health insurance for them, and they were hoping for a single payer (government) option. He didn't push it hard enough, and we'll settle for what we get. I think that is part of the disappointment people feel today. It will be nice to get something signed, though, and try for more in another couple of years.

    January 12, 2010 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  15. JHM

    Wait, 48% of Americans think his presidency is a FAILURE and the headline is "Americans are split on his success"?

    Nice spin, CNN, but please, how stupid do you think we are?

    January 12, 2010 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  16. Gary

    means nothing

    January 12, 2010 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  17. Sarah

    Just think what all could have been accomplished in this first year if we didn't have the Party of NO stonwalling every thing........I voted for Obama and I will vote for him again......no matter if the economy gets better or not, even if the Health Care Reform doesn't pass, even if a terrorist gets through security.......I would vote for Obama even if his ratings were 20% like Bushes was when he left office.......I will vote for Obama before I ever give my vote to the Party of NO......to the liers, the racists, the radicals, the right wing religious nuts.......and this is coming from a 62 year old WHITE woman.........

    January 12, 2010 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  18. Tom from Canonsburg

    This is just more of the same. Americans in general expect immediate gradification and for certain you cannot correct the mistakes made by the Bush administration over 8 years in one year. The US government is a very slow moving entity and in reality we should all be glad it is. The corrections that have been put in place will take some time to work through the entire economy. Our capitalist system will fight the changes as more than the GOP does because it is all based on greed. Not fairness.

    January 12, 2010 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  19. Shane from Ohio

    obama's not a failure – he's doing everything he and his ilk want to do. Yep, the ol' bait 'n switch. For instance, remember how he bashed McCain (also a socialist) about taxing people with great health coverage as unheard of? Well, the report just came out this week that good ol' obama is going to do the same thing! Straight from the horse's mouth! People....YOU CAN'T DO THAT!

    January 12, 2010 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  20. Mike1952

    People must have their head in the sand to think Wingnut has a successful foreign policy or that he is defending the homeland. Europeans are snubbing him every day, the Iranians are laughing at him and even ignoring him at times. He's a dismal failure so far in those arenas.

    As for doing a good job......don't make me laugh. He's an amatuer in way over his head. He relies on Nancy Penazi and Hairy Reid to do his work while he reads his teleprompter anywhere they'll have him. What a colossal blunder!

    January 12, 2010 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  21. Richard Drew

    To our President's credit, he has been an outstanding communicator, a critical part of being President. He has also accelerated many issues for resolution, when he could have safely let things ride, blaming everyone else (Republicans) for the mess. He has been more transparent and even though I'm a Republican at heart, I give him very high marks. He's is not only an excellent consensus bulider but he balances getting things done in a pragmatic and effective way. I've not seen this quality of leadership since Reagan. Soon more electric cars will become part of the soluton, Major Car companies will start to recover, more health care will be available to more Americans and our economy will rebound, all helped by his leadership.

    January 12, 2010 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  22. Camron

    Barack Obama is a good man but I support Mitt Romney in 2012.

    No more Bush, no more Obama – we need change!

    January 12, 2010 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  23. ThinkAgain

    People should take this poll with a huge grain of salt.

    This poll should have also asked what people think about the Republicans' attitude of obstruction, when it comes to helping President Obama in his efforts to get the economy going again.

    The Republicans have stated they want our president and our country to fail; they've also urged Republican governors to either decline the stimulus money or if they accept it, to sit on it.

    GOP = Party Before Country

    January 12, 2010 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  24. Oompa Loompa

    Running the country isn't a popularity contest, it is serious business. If I close my eyes to the pictures and read the words instead of listening to the lulling cadence he speaks with, he gets a "D-" from me. I'm seriously concerned for our country. From so much hope comes so much more dispair. Apparantly "He can't".

    January 12, 2010 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  25. Joe in MN

    You mean conservatives...nooooo! (sarcasm added)

    January 12, 2010 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
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