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. RobChicago

    Obama would have to walk on water to fulfill the expectations of the desperate people victimized by the prior administration. Back off and let the man work! It will take more than a year to fix this mess.

    January 12, 2010 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  2. Stef

    Although I don't think he's a bad guy, like some posters, he just does not have the experience, or the right idea that now is the time to increase entitlement programs and expand government. He has not lived up to too many promises either, like transparency, although even if he wanted to, he does not have the right or the power to control the actions of congress, so we can't blame him for the actions of congress, but we can kinda blame the party, as well as the whole 2 party system since it fosters extremism to both the left and right.

    January 12, 2010 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  3. katy Heys

    Wow! Obama has been in office for a relatively short time and he hasn't cured all the problems facing America – problems mostly caused the the prior administration? Sounds like we are looking for instant gratification. What will become of us?

    January 12, 2010 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  4. Mike

    the mere fact that he is trying to further seperate our nation from our own culture and history makes him a failure to me. Who does he think he is?

    January 12, 2010 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  5. C

    So quick to pass judgment on this man, it has not even been one year. I can say with certain honesty George Bush's presidency was a failure 9-11 was the begining of his long list of SCREW UPS. Obama is just trying to fix the mess that W left behind

    January 12, 2010 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  6. Michael Marsh

    Obama is doing what he said he would, and what his record predicted he would do. Americans were not paying attention, were naive, or were trying to exercise a guilt complex when they put him in office. We have no one to blame but themselves for what they have created. Hopefully its not too late.

    January 12, 2010 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  7. Shelly

    One has to wonder the demographics and political/ socioeconomic diversity of the people polled. Also how are the questions asked and interpreted....leads me to think these polls are not very accurate.
    Polls are fickle and do not really reflect the true long term sentiment of the population.

    January 12, 2010 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  8. kim

    Obama has done nothing but divide this country.

    January 12, 2010 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  9. SuperHiro

    Why are opinion polls relevant?

    January 12, 2010 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  10. mac

    Shouldn't the link say "Half say Obama a success." I suppose it the glass is half full thing. CNN chose half empty.

    January 12, 2010 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  11. Ravi

    Bill Clinton was above 50% approval in 1994. And he didn't fare too well in the midterm election. Obama's in trouble.

    January 12, 2010 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  12. tom gunther Sr.

    "Only 44 percent approve of how Obama is handling the economy", with the economy being our #1 issue this percentage spells out clearly that THE MAJORITY OF AMERICANS NOW BELIEVE OBAMA IS A FAILURE. Hows that CHANGE working out for you OBAMA Voters??? The HOPE is over...

    January 12, 2010 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  13. Dfine

    Leave Our president alone and let him do his JOB!!!

    January 12, 2010 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  14. JM

    I'm surprised it's only half.

    January 12, 2010 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  15. Jared

    Obama is all talk and no walk. It's amazing how many stupid Americans were hoodwinked in to voting for this guy. Only 3 more years till Mr. Socialism exits stage left.

    January 12, 2010 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  16. sbrown

    You mean there are still people drinking the Obama Kool-Aid served by the Empty Suit Teleprompter President........and you liberals thought Bush was a MORON? We are far worse off now because Obama continues to seek reparations politics here and abroad and has not invested in business to create jobs. A job produced within the Government is not creating new jobs. Impeach him for TREASON!

    January 12, 2010 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  17. Tiffany

    I think that the people who think he is a failure are the one who have no clue about the past events the Bush was in charge of that have lead us to where we are today. President Obama has done a wonderful job with what has been going on in our country and he should be applauded.

    January 12, 2010 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  18. talanhugh

    ...but they don't call cell phones, and most liberals are too poor to afford phones anyway....blah blah blah.

    Spin it how you want, the clock is ticking down on this OBAMination.

    Unfortunately Obama has all but asssured it will be along time before there is another black president.

    January 12, 2010 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  19. Strait talk from the Carolinas

    this guy is nothing more than a windbag
    never ran anything and can't run this country – except into the ground
    gov control over the mortgage industry – pushing subprime is what go us into this fix. More gov take over of our lives and money will not fix it

    vote this lying nimrod out along with all the big gov, big spending liberal windbags

    January 12, 2010 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  20. bill

    And the other half is obviously clueless.

    January 12, 2010 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  21. Greg

    Hmmmm ... now subtract everyone from that 48% who's a Republican and rooting for him to fail from day one, and maybe we will get a more accurate figure.

    January 12, 2010 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  22. Tim

    Half say he is a failure, the other half are failures themselves.

    January 12, 2010 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  23. Craig

    One year into this and you're ready to bolt on this President?... amazing... so I imagine that you all walk on water? This I gotta see...

    January 12, 2010 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  24. chuck

    I'm surprised that there are that many people who truly believe he is having success. He is a miserable failure thus far and doesn't seem to know how to right himself or this country. You can't keep doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Again, a complete failure. Wake up AMERICA!

    January 12, 2010 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  25. L

    George W's approval ratings were much higher than Obama's at the 1st year mark. Obviously that was not a good indicator of the quality of his leadership. Two failed wars later & an economy in ruin... Bush is the failure. Obama is the fall-guy because he was left to clean up the mess.

    January 12, 2010 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
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