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. 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!
    Also, the whole "racist" remark....had any of us said that, not just republicans, but ANY of us said that, there's be hell to pay. What's going on here?

    January 12, 2010 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  2. Jon

    This is just another ridiculous story. So 48% say this, and 47% say that. So what??? He was elected with a 52% to 48% or so margin in 2008, so aren't we simply saying that all those SAME PEOPLE either want him or don't want him just the same as they did then? Don't insult my intelligence by saying that Republicans now would ever even admit that he is doing a good job. And, of course, most Democrats will (and should) back him up. Get real!

    January 12, 2010 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  3. Caron Speas

    This is what REALLY ails America. The delusion that there is a quick fix, quick answer, easy solution, over-night transformation available for problems that developed over 15 years. This is not fast food restauranting we are talking about, people. WAKE UP!!! Sixteen years of Republican de-regulation, eight years of Republican war-mongering and tax cuts for the rich, years and years of captialist greed -- and the boob-heads of this country think that one year of effort that does not fix sixteen years of disaster is a failure. Americans are profoundly stupid. I guess we deserve all the financial and emotional depression that life can bring. One truth I have learned: Republicans are children - blame everyone else and take responsibility for nothing. SHAME SHAME SHAME ON THEM. Shame on me for thinking that Republican total control of legislative and the executive branches of government would teach them a leasson that their policies don't work. Now I know they are too ignorant to learn.

    January 12, 2010 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  4. Antonio

    Were we asking these questions on Bush's first year. This makes no sense it's only been a year give the man a chance to work. Theres alot to be done, he took over when anyone would have problems and not one person on this earth can undo the past 8 years of failure on the economy and wrong war mongering within a year. If he fails I will be the first to not vote for him in re-election but my god lets hope this man succeeds for all of us.

    January 12, 2010 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  5. kate in nc

    Are these the same pollster who thought Hillary would trounce him here in NC or that he and McCain were at a draw? Polls aren't worth anything. I am not satisfied with how things are going, though the idea that he is completely responsible for economy, and job loss is absurd or the idea that it would be fixed in a year! I am thrilled, though, to have a president who actually speaks to us, and who admits mistakes. It is so refreshing. Why do I never get polled? I must not hold the opinions they are trying for.

    January 12, 2010 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  6. Bertina

    This is ridiculous. One year does not a presidency make.

    January 12, 2010 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  7. Chris

    Failure? Success? What facile labels to apply to the most complex job on the planet.

    January 12, 2010 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  8. Raul Dominguez

    These polls are so silly. Obama's either a success or failure one yr out! That's crazy. If you love Reagan, remember it took 3 yrs to turn it around. How bout Clinton, add 2 yrs before economy improved, and it wasn't as bad as this one. People have opinions, but they either don't know what they're talking about or they just allow their idealogy totally influence their opinion.

    January 12, 2010 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  9. Randy

    Working with a corrupt government doesn't make it easy to get anything done. It's easy to screw the country up but hard to put it right.

    Personally, I don't think Jesus could get anything done with the people/companies running our country.

    Let's face it, it's all about power and greed.

    January 12, 2010 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  10. nadine

    I'm going to make this statement, "God is in control".

    January 12, 2010 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    Everyone has a lot to say, but can you do any of the President Job! If not Shut Up and sit back down where you where at! Try support on issue that you care about! Thank You

    January 12, 2010 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  12. mike

    Please. Polls are full of errors and who did they ask Republicans?

    January 12, 2010 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  13. Don

    President Obama is a success as a black president only because of his "light-skinned" appearance and speaking patterns "with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one." Hey, guess thats an acceptable thought pattern now, huh?

    January 12, 2010 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  14. SandyK

    Why aren't you including the demographics in this poll?

    Hiding a large partisan gap maybe?

    January 12, 2010 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  15. ron

    His policies are failing the country? Or he's failing at implementing his policies? Appeasement, affirmitive action, government take-overs and wealth re-distribution... hmmmm... I'd say bad policies.

    January 12, 2010 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  16. JES

    Let's see inflation up, jobs down, taxes up, debt up, wants to tax banks and it will be passed on to us, health care bill is a joke, and his rating contiune to slide.

    Just as I thought Obama doesn't know what he is doing along with his staff and party.

    January 12, 2010 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  17. mjm

    Congress has a 27% approval rating because they want to spend 3-4 trillion in one year and then turn around and say they have no choice but to increase taxes in order to pay for it all.

    They talk of transparency just before going behind closed doors to debate who gets what payoff for their health care vote.

    The American people, who are CONSERVATIVE democrats and republicans, know that this is wrong and they want it stopped.

    January 12, 2010 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  18. Lou

    What on earth did the half that say our President is a failure think? True, he does not walk on water. Yes, he inherited some of the biggest messes that any president in history have ever met. Yes, he is trying his utmost, without the help of the other party, to make things right. Give this guy a chance.

    January 12, 2010 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  19. Sea.gem

    With all the positive spin he gets in the media this is an alarming low number...if he didn't have Bush and Congress to blame he'd be even worse...of course, it is obvious by the numbers that people are tired of his excuses!

    January 12, 2010 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  20. Dan

    Can we really judge whether a presidency is a failure or success less than a year into his term-particularly given the circumstances in which the current president inherited his office–and the partisan obstruction he has faced from day one?

    I for one will not jump on either band wagon. But for the time being I would give him a grade of B-minus, maybe a B.

    He inherited a complete mess from his predecessor. I will give the president the benefit of the doubt and hope he can deliver half of what he spoke about in his campaign.

    January 12, 2010 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  21. nick

    since half the people are below 100Q I am not surprised by the poll

    Obama inherited a mess and is doing wel,
    he should have hit banks harder
    and raised taxes etc

    January 12, 2010 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  22. ABRAHAM

    A COMPLETE SUCCESS AS OPPOSED TO THE WAR CRIMINALS WE HAD THERE IN THE PAST OR EVEN MCCAIN / PALIN IN THE WHITE HOUSE. GET OVER THIS AMERICA. THE CHINESE ARE LAUGHING AT THIS SCENARIO OF THE TEA PARTY PATRIOTS TRYING TO DIVIDE AND TEAR APART AMERICA.

    January 12, 2010 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  23. Kevin in Ohio

    Failure is obvious because of his TOTAL inability to listen to the voices of the American people regarding so-called Health care Reform. Its not reform.... its a power grab for the liberals, for the democrats, for the lawyers, for the most corrupt Congress in our history.

    January 12, 2010 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  24. Zach K

    It's quite obvious that it would happen. Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan were at this same crossroads during their presidency. Just give Obama time, and the 2010 elections before we can truely judge.

    Let us be glad that McLame and that Monster aren't occupying the highest office right now.

    January 12, 2010 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  25. alfonds

    His ratings are higher abroad vs domestic.Seems to me the cup should be cleaned in the inside first , then worry about the outside.

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