June 17th, 2010
11:58 AM ET
5 years ago

CNN Poll: Rise in disapproval of Obama handling of oil spill

ALT TEXT Workers on a contaminated beach in Grand Isle, Louisiana. (PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images)

Washington (CNN) – Six in ten Americans disapprove of how President Barack Obama's handling the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, a jump from last month, according to a new national poll.

A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey also indicates that vast majority of the public disapproves of how BP has handled the environmental disaster and two-thirds say making a profit rather than cleaning up the spill is oil giant's top priority.

Full results [pdf]

Fifty-nine percent of people questioned say they disapprove of how the president is dealing with the spill, up eight points from May. Forty-one percent say they approve of how Obama's handling the crisis, down five points from last month.

While the president's numbers are dropping, he still fares better than the federal government. Only one in four give the federal government a thumbs up on how it's dealing with the oil spill, with 74 percent saying they disapprove.

The survey is the first national poll conducted entirely after the president's Tuesday night prime time television address on the oil spill to the American people. Obama's speech directly followed his fourth trip to the Gulf Coast since the environmental disaster began on April 20.

"Americans don't like how Obama has handled the situation in the Gulf, but that has not affected his overall approval rating," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Fifty percent say they approve of how he is handling his job as president - essentially unchanged from his overall approval rating for the last three months."

The poll's Thursday release comes as top BP executives testify in front of Congress. At the hearing, Rep. Joe Barton, ranking Republican on the House Energy Committee, defended BP and slammed the White House for insisting that BP place $20 billion in an escrow fund to help compensate those affected by the oil disaster.

"I am ashamed of what happened at the White House yesterday," said Barton at the hearing. "I think it is a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation would be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown. In this case a $20 billion dollar shakedown."

But according to the poll, Americans disagree with Barton. Eighty-two percent approve of the creating of a fund of billions of dollars to compensate workers and businesses affected by the spill.

The survey indicates that two thirds of Americans think the president hasn't been tough enough in dealing with BP, with one in four saying Obama's been about right and five percent saying he's been too tough on the oil corporation.

Only 13 percent of Americans approve of how BP's handling the oil spill, down 11 points from last month, with 87 percent saying they disapprove, up an equal amount from May.

More than nine out of ten say BP's top priority should be cleaning up the spill, but two thirds say it's their best guess that BP's top priority will be protecting the interests of its investors and employees by making sure the company stays in business and makes a profit. Just over one in three say cleaning up the spill is BP's top priority.

Just over half questioned say they trust the federal government more than BP to improve the situation in the Gulf of Mexico, with 32 percent saying they have more faith in BP and 12 percent say they trust neither Washington or the oil corporation.

"Most Republicans say they trust BP more than the government, but only about one in four independents and Democrats agree with that view," Holland says. "That's not to say that Republicans like BP - only 13% of GOP respondents approve of how the oil company is handling the situation in the Gulf and six in ten Republicans think that BP will be more concerned about the bottom line than about cleaning up the Gulf."

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted Wednesday June 16, with 534 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.


Filed under: BP • CNN Polls • Energy • Popular Posts • President Obama
soundoff (305 Responses)
  1. pt

    Leave the President alone and let him lead!!

    June 17, 2010 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  2. Maxumuus

    I'm curious what people are expecting him to do, that is within his and the government's ability to do, that he hasn't yet done.

    I'm looking to BP to stop this leak and clean this mess up, and to Obama to make sure they foot the bill and to remove hurdles and provide support.

    I also find it hypocritical that any Republican would look to the government to fix this over the private corporation that caused this.

    June 17, 2010 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  3. Gil

    He'll still have to go some ways to get an approval rating of 19% like the quacken bush we had for 8 years. I'd like to see a poll on how many people think he is partially responsible for the lax standards of the oil indutry and the cause of the spill in the first place!

    June 17, 2010 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  4. G T

    how in the hell is he out of his league and who are you polling? Everyone I speak to thinks he is doing a fine job and I am talking about both democrats and republicans. Read people! READ!! Stop letting drudge report and fox news do your thinking.

    June 17, 2010 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  5. Dr.George James

    You want Obama to do magic???Why dont you give him credit for getting $20B from BP.It is all part of a dislike for the person that Obama is.I was totally disappointed by Rudy Juliani, who appeared on MSNBC.Only a moron can behave that way!!!

    June 17, 2010 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  6. Benson Martin

    I have to read what should be done instead of what is happening in dealing with something that has NEVER happened before in the history of this country. I never felt any attempt to pull together as much as I felt that there were folks lined up to take shots. When the govt acts, I hear too much govt control. When the govt doesnt step in (or up), I hear inaction.

    You cant have it both ways! Stop the leak, period.

    June 17, 2010 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  7. Conservative and proud of it

    To Larry: "They shouldn't judge him until they've walked in his shoes. " ---------------------------

    Now just which shoes would those be? His golf shoes while he's been playing golf instead of staying on top of the oil spill? Oh, wait, or would it be his court shoes that he wears while he's playing basket ball? I really don't want to hear any excuses about how he needs down time, he's had more down time in the last 18 months than Clinton or Bush had in each of their 8 years in the office.

    Obama never was and never will be POTUS material. Period.

    June 17, 2010 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  8. Dale

    So the guy that the Repubs who have cast their net of fear that he is taking over everything now don't think she is doing enough to take over. Can't win for loosing with them.

    So tell us what else should he do? That is legal. I also notice the Repubs are again silent on any plan to stop it.

    June 17, 2010 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  9. Living in America

    Wow Barton is mad because they gotta pay and Obama is doing his JOB. Where were you when the insurance companies refused to pay the residents of Gulf Coast for Katrina. Wasn't that theft by taking. They took the people money and they didn't get the services rendered. Wow 20 billion for a pelican in the Gulf oil spill and $2000.00 debit card for humans for Katrina. PRICELESS.

    June 17, 2010 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  10. jerry

    When Bush was in office he was the government. Now Obama and the government are separated.

    June 17, 2010 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  11. PCB

    For those of you who are saying Obama is handling this disaster better than Bush handled Katrina might want to ask yourselves why the vast majority of us who live in the Gulf region disagree with you.

    You are watching this from the sidelines; we are living it.

    June 17, 2010 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  12. Sone thing to think about.

    Most of you think you know what to do.
    What I have learned is all of you just have a mouth.
    And still don't know how to use it.
    Listen to all of the people talk just to hear themselves talk.
    Now thats a JOKE. Please everyone who do not have any experience in this situation. STOP TALKING just to be TALKING.
    WHO CARES IF YOU LIKE OR DON"T LIKE our PRESIDENT. He is still the PRESIDENT. WHO CARES IF YOU THINK HE WILL OR WILL NOT BE RE-ELECTED. All of this does not matter. What really matters is the people.

    June 17, 2010 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  13. Methodman

    Polls are a bunch of garbage. Lately we have been getting sales calls disguised as polls. So Idon't do surveys anymore. Very few people will talk to you folks. You slant everything we say like Faux news or Ramussan. Start digging into facts. Quit complaining and do a job as journalists and quit slamming this president who is doing his best. Even though he tries to cater to the whack job libitarians and others who have made it their passion not to read. Only one book if they do.

    People who are angry with the president need to park their cars. Otherwise continue the fox spin and we read other websites. Mediamatters.com, Crooksand Liars, MichaelMoore. CNN you are becoming increasingly irrelevant.

    June 17, 2010 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  14. Dan

    Did some of you get pom-poms with your Obama bumper stickers?

    June 17, 2010 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  15. Liberals are scum

    $20 billion dollar "shakedown" from BP, if only Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton could've gotten that much for Citi, BofA, etc. Obama now joins the elite group of "Street Hustlers" just like them. Remember, it was BP that provided Rahm Emanuel with a free apartment in DC. It was Emanuel's roomate that skimmed millions of federal tax dollars to create a new publicity campaign changing the name from British Petroleum to Beyond Petroleum. It was BP that wrote most of the language in the Cap-Tax Legislation so they could reward themselves with future profits from alternative renewable resources. It was the SIEU that wrote the Healthcare Legislation. Obama is a street hustling thug with a chip on his shoulder. Your Partier-in-Chief is an embarrassment to this country. He is your President, not mine. I am ashamed he is the President of this country. Wow, didn't you say the same thing about Bush? Didn't the Dixie Chicks say the same thing too? Now that the shoe is on the other foot, how do you like that?

    June 17, 2010 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  16. JerzyJoe

    All you folks make me laugh...What could the president have done...How about this, take charge, waive the Jones Act during this catostraphe...Then invite every oil company in the world to the White House and ask for help. His next step would have been for Obama to call every environmentalist, marie biologist and fish, game and wildlife expert to help in the Gulf area cleanup....I just dont get this guy!

    June 17, 2010 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  17. Matthew

    I would like to see how you would handle this.....rather than complaining like children how about submitting ideas on what to do to correct the issue. Obviously this is a difficult situation to take care of. There are many engineers on this trying stop this leak and they are having difficulties. How much luck in solving the issue would someone with a degree in political science have? I would assume that it all comes down to what you are educated in doing I am sure you would not ask a lawyer to perform surgery on you, well the same thing does for this. You don’t ask a politician to do an engineers job, common sense works here…however I am guessing most of this ignorance is coming from lack of education. I am complaining about this because it must be solved, however I can not blame the government because there is not much they can do. The blame here goes to BP. This is their mess, they need to fix it, and they need to clean it.

    June 17, 2010 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  18. Ron Hutton. Md.

    Enough is enough, President Obama is not SUPERMAN. Why can't CAFFERTY, SANCHEZ, BLITZER, ANDERSON, and all the other CNN know it alls slove the oil problem, instead of alluding that OBAMA can. The situation in the gulf is a direct result of not properly regulating big business. Why not put the CNN crew along with His Holy Loud Mouth Russ L on a boat piloted by "drill, baby, drill" Palin on the Titanic, go to the Gulf and see if they can do better than the Preident. Don't forget to include Chaney (who has been very quiet on the subject) and Bush on that ship. As New Englanders say "your mess, you clean it up". This by the way applies to Chaney and Bush.

    June 17, 2010 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  19. carolyn

    I want an investigation into who is taking all these stupid polls.

    June 17, 2010 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  20. eve

    It's an oil spill, the result of an explosion. BP and other companies are out there drilling for oil because we want it and will pay the price. If anyone wants to lay blame look in the mirror. Those who have the knowledge and tools are working to stop the leak, those in the area plus national guard and other volunteers are working to stop/ contain the damage. the public must be willing to help make the hard decisions. Do we keep doing this kind of drilling? Are we willing to assume the risk. Are we willing to change our use of oil by the following and more: walk more, drive less, turn off the air conditioning, slow down? There are a lot of questions and we the people must make a choice about our life style and priorities. The government is the people. We do not get off the hook after we vote. We are all responsible and will continue to be until we change our choices.

    June 17, 2010 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  21. Sue

    gotta hope ThIS is what topples him Can't get him out quick enough for me he is awful for this country

    June 17, 2010 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  22. David in NC

    I am amazed at all of these people indicating that President Obama is not handling the situation correctly. What exactly would you have the President do???? These are the same people who just NOW started caring about the environment and were previously so loud and obnoxious yelling "Drill Baby Drill." Need I remind them that this disaster is the result of "Drill Baby Drill."

    June 17, 2010 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  23. .....

    Firs they want obama "out of their lives" and now you blame him and chastize him for his actions? you right wings and independents are absolutely nuts! and CNN you and your polls...you have an absolute negative affect on this country with your dumb polls and non news articles! I'LL BE VOTING FOR OBAMA IN 2012 AGAIN! with the people that are out there trying to run for President? are you kidding me? this guy's intelligent...and this whole idea that he's not getting anything done...it's not cuz he's not trying it's cuz congress and it's right wing 'NO PARTY" keeps putting a stop to EVERYTHING....THEY ARE THE ONES THAT SHOULD BE VOTED OUT!

    June 17, 2010 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  24. THE VOICE OF REASON

    What did you people think he should have done? Call in an "oil well buster" (like "ghost busters") and just "plug the leak?" Do you have any idea of the tremendous force of oil shooting out of the ground?? (Remember the old movies where they struck oil and it shot upwards into the sky by hundreds of feet? Probably the company most familiar with this complicated technology IS BP and it was only natural that the experts most familiar with this problem be the ones to stop it. They have tried, but this is much too big and forceful a leak to control. Short of "Superman" (where is he when we need him?) no one person in the real world really has an answer to this. Maybe Kevin Costner's oil and water separating machines will help get this under control until they can drill what they need to drill to get this main pipeline shut off. (See CNN's articles earlier this week.) Until then, we have the President trying his best, over 30,000 people and growing, and other governments who have been faced with such a challenge (The Netherlands, Norway, and many others) who have offered to help and who have sent aid. Now, BP has agreed to set up a fund of I believe $20 Billion to be distributed to the people most affected by this catastrophy. What would you suggest be done next?

    June 17, 2010 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  25. Randolph Carter, I'm no expert but...

    Meh, big deal. American oil companies spill that much oil in the Niger delta every year. But nobody cares because it's poor brown people who are dying. Have a nice day!

    June 17, 2010 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
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