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. terry,va

    Obummie is a failure on everything he said he would do.
    1. Not raise taxes on the middle class.
    2. Be transparent on the bills he is pushing.
    3. Protecting this country.
    4. Closing Gitmo by 1/10
    5.Giving gays equal rights
    6.Uniting this country. It is more divided than in my LONG life time
    7. Get rid of special interest and lobbist. The Unions and Big Pharma/Insurance own him.
    8. The stimulus bill will keep unemployment less than 8%.
    9. No more pork in any bills taht he signs.

    His LIES are bigger than Nixon, Clinton and Bush combined. Change we can believe in? Only in fantasy land; which is what we have.

    January 12, 2010 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  2. marcus (seattle)

    ok, half of those polled say obama is a failure... but, 90 % of them would agree that bush/cheney was an far beyond a failure, maybe even to the point of being a tragedy or disaster... that already makes obama a HUGE success..

    January 12, 2010 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  3. demwit

    Whats wrong with mortgaging our childrens future for healthcare??

    January 12, 2010 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  4. Alan

    As a conservative, I believe that President Obama is doing exactly what he promised he would do. IE a stimulus plan that has not done anything but run up our dept, apologize to the world for our wealth, release prisoners of war so they fight again, taking over private companies, in the process of taking over 1/6 of our economy with a so-called health reform bill that will not work and will cost a whole lot more than they are leading us to believe.

    He likes the unemployment high because the more Americans are out of work, the more they depend on our corrupt govt.

    I would have to say that everything is going just as Obama has planned. He is not a failure!!

    January 12, 2010 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  5. bobcat1a

    Everyone should remember that Abraham Lincoln was considered an unelectable failure right up until a few months before he was reelected.

    January 12, 2010 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  6. Tania

    And after EIGHT years the Shrub was a success?

    January 12, 2010 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  7. Lucullus

    Maybe if he had kept his campaign promises he'd be more popular. Most people voted for him because he offered change from the same old politics as usual. Unfortuantely, that's what he's given us, more of the same. He didn't pull the troops out of Iraq, he didn't close down Quantanamo, he didn't fight for health care at all, he let the jack boot right and Joe (Judas) Lieberman call the shots. God help this country. Between a lazy, uninformed population, a corrupt government and a corporate owned media, we are SKA-RUDE

    January 12, 2010 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  8. hobart

    This is precisely what can be accomplished by having the media giant, Rupert Murdoch, and his empire, especially Faux News and now the WSJ, campaign against him with a relentless pack of loathsome lies 24/7/365. for upwards of 2 years now.

    It's time to revisit his citizenship, and just how someone who's not even a real American can be so powerful.

    Why do Repubicans so hate America?

    January 12, 2010 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  9. D Goleman

    Not standing up to the Department of Defense and the Pentagon and pulling out all the troops out as promised during the campaign is the biggest failure as far as I can see, and also most other people, too. Nation building should've stayed at home.

    Unfortunately, the only other export economy that we, the U.S., has anymore is weapons, armament, bullets and high-tech new-age defense and offense artillery.

    Pull the plug on that and we pull the plug on the rest of our economy.

    A sad state to be in, but he who has the biggest gun at the end of the day will most likely be the winner. Sad but true. I wish it were not so. Sadder still is that we'll end up selling it all to China.

    January 12, 2010 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  10. James

    Its unfortunate that most Americans fail to understand the immensity of the mess which Obama inherited. For anyone who presumes to judge the "success or failure" of his presidency after the first year is being quite naive. The complexity of any President's job, coupled with the extraordinary severity of what Obama is facing at this particular time in our history, makes judgement of his presidency now both premature and inappropriate. Personally, I intend to make my evaluation after the first term, not the first year!

    January 12, 2010 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  11. Dave C

    This poll must have asked only inner city Democrats for their opinion. I can't believe that no more than one out of two people in this country don't think that this buffoon and his staff are grossly incompetent for the job.

    January 12, 2010 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  12. Paul

    I guess you have to scare everyone into believing that the sky is falling to be popular? Point your finger at an enemy – any enemy and ship tanks and teenagers with guns there under false pretenses all the while destroying individual privacy laws with the Patriot Act – overnight. Kill an inherited surplus economy, maybe? Then, you're a great guy!

    But Obama, he's the Anti-Christ right?

    Sarah Palin quits her political post to write books, be a TV personality and throws out her venom spewed opinions left and right. She's a Maverick, right? A real forward thinker. Get real, people – this guy never stood a chance with the Tea Parties and backlash he has received. He is trying to help the very people, "P-E-O-P-L-E," not big business (HALLIBURTON), that hate him so much. If he didn't initiate the bailouts everyone would be eating each other in the streets because they would have been robbed by AIG and friends of their life savings and pensions... I loathe the political age that we live in. All politicians should be so scrutinized. He just doesn't "look," the part I guess. Everyday, we see the truth behind our race plagued society. It is our weakness and will be our downfall. Weak minds.

    January 12, 2010 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  13. Bonnie Riddle

    Well, all those who perceive any failure to be the President's alone clearly don't know how this country is supposed to work.
    It is WE who have failed, if we haven't pitched in to make things work.
    (And it goes without saying that anyone who didn't vote doesn't get to have an opinion.)

    January 12, 2010 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  14. Denise

    Obama continues to ACT THE ROLE OF "FIRST" BLACK PRESIDENT, instead of working in the job that he qualified, applied, and was hired for.

    No wonder that the watching American 'AUDIENCE" appear a bit unsettled – even testy, to say the least.

    1. Need to (...quick as hell!...) present a NEW/CHANGED FACE to your Global Partners? Hire a Black President within a racialised country!

    2. Does that hired-President need to (...constantly!..) reassure these people that they made the right Choice? Keep those Global Partners happy at all costs!

    3. Need a Crystal Ball to predict how this TRAGI-COMEDY will end? Stay for the end of the "SHOW," during which you will be certain to see a pouting 'n picketing American Populace petulantly pitching their "first" black president-Character out (...thru' the Servants' Entrance!...) of THEIR CLEAN, WHITE, HOUSE.

    January 12, 2010 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  15. Erika PW

    Though Pres. Obama certainly has bitten off more than he can (or should) chew, to say that his leadership so far has been a failure is RIDICULOUS. I'm taking it that the main people responding to this questionnaire must be right-wingers.....

    How can anyone call Obama's leadership a failure when he had to play "janitor" to the mess of a country that was left for him? Let's be realistic, people...change takes time!

    January 12, 2010 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  16. elowe

    Apparently, 48 percent of Americans are so ignorant of place, time, and context that they are completely blind to the fact that this President saved this country from a complete and utter disaster. Obama's discisive actions averted a complete economic collapse and possible a decade long depression-–and furthermore, quite possibly a collapse of the rule-of-law worldwide. But there are people in this country so caught up in their personal biases that they are unwilling to acknowledge the fact that most people(from every political persuasion) absolutely agreed upon just one year ago--that the economy was in deep trouble and on the verge of disaster. Now that the disaster has been averted those people who are blinded by political idealogy or biggoted thought have engaged in the worst kind of historical revision in order to evade their responsibility to be grateful to this President for saving America from a decade of doom. This has become a very sad and demented country. My 11th great grandfather came to this country in 1638 and my family has been here ever since--I wish only to have the money and resources to flee this god forsaken den of religous nutcases and backward conservative anti-intellectual and find a home somewhere else. You neocons might be happy to get rid of me and so be it-–but then you would have to live with the Sarah Palins of your party crushing this great country into a place where only the most insufferable morons and goons could possibly want to live.

    January 12, 2010 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  17. Dave H.

    Explain this to me. How does 47% of the country saying he's a failure make more than his 51% approval ratings?
    Your polls are a joke, get your numbers right and stop labelling things falsely. It makes you look just as bad as the hateful unpatriotic teapartiers. Fair and balanced. Pfft.

    January 12, 2010 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  18. chuck

    Obama has been a failure on every issue, including national defense. If the underwear bomber had been successful, Obama realizes he would be impeached, or, at the very least, been viewed as the worst president ever–eclipsing Jimmy Carter.

    The economy will be his downfall, however. I see no way to improve the unemployment numbers, hovering around 18%, and remaining so. Rush Libmbaugh believes he is doing this purposefully in order to make more people reliant on big government. He may be right.
    God help us if he is.

    January 12, 2010 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  19. terry,va

    From a financial and foreign policy stand point Jimmy Cater will look like a genius compared to him.

    January 12, 2010 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  20. Kitchen Police

    Anyone would be better than that lizard brain Bush. I can't imagine why someone could vote for a republican after they put us in this abyss. I believe Obama is really trying to clean up the mess that was dumped on his presidency.

    January 12, 2010 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  21. Tim

    He gets high marks on foreign policy and national security. Just who is CNN asking? Obama is a complete dolt when it comes to these two issues. If it wasn't for Cheney publicly chastising him and forcing him to reverse course on several decisions, we'd be having parades in the streets of Washintong to honor the poor beligerents held at Gitmo.

    Give me a break, really!

    January 12, 2010 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  22. ztormtra

    When a Poll is cited, they should also cite the exact questions asked. Did they ask it this exact way – "Do you think the Obama Presidency has been a failure or a success?"

    Also, did they poll the exact amount of Independents, republicans and democrats?

    January 12, 2010 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  23. Marcus

    I am a Republican, but I have a wild idea..... Let's give President Obama a WHOLE TERM before we decide whether or not he is a failure. I'm sorry.... Then the newspapers wouldn't have anything to do. Silly idea!

    January 12, 2010 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  24. joe J

    This man is not a failure he has accomplished everything he has set out to do and that is to DESTROY AMERICA FROM WITH-IN. I hope this is the change we voted for if not we have been fooled and infiltrated.

    January 12, 2010 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  25. Enough

    Success..............that's a joke! This man has been a disaster, he is the worst president ever, even worse than Jimmy Carter. I don't think this country can afford another 3 years of the bankrupting of America.

    January 12, 2010 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12