CNN Poll: Obama's approval rating edges up thanks to foreign policy
May 30th, 2011
04:34 PM ET
3 years ago

CNN Poll: Obama's approval rating edges up thanks to foreign policy

Washington (CNN) – President Barack Obama's performance on national security and international affairs and his image as a strong leader appear to be behind his rising approval rating, according to new national poll conducted as the president was on an overseas visit to four countries.

Full results (pdf)

A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Monday indicates that Obama's approval rating among Americans stands at 54 percent, with 45 percent saying they disapprove of the job he's doing as president. Obama's approval rating appears to have steadily risen in the past two months, from 48 percent in early April to 52 percent in early May and the current mark of 54 percent.

Listen to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer CNN Radio's Bob Costantini discuss the new poll numbers:



"On specific issues, the president's approval rating is over 50 percent on only three out of 11 items tested, and all three - terrorism, Afghanistan, and Iraq - are foreign or security issues," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "But his approval rating on every domestic issue listed in the poll is well below 50 and on most of them - including the economy, health care, taxes, and the budget deficit - his rating has remained flat or dropped since the start of the year."

Only one in four says they approve of how the president is handling high gas prices. And the survey indicates that six in ten think that things are going badly in the country today. So why has Obama's overall approval rating risen to the mid-50s?

"Clearly Americans are responding the president's foreign policy credentials, an advantage that is magnified every time he goes abroad. That was a common pattern for previous presidents as well, even those who entered office with an ambitious domestic agenda," adds Holland.

The killing of Osama bin Laden by U.S. special forces at the beginning of May also helped give Obama a bump in his approval ratings, with most of that change coming from two key groups - Republicans and senior citizens.

"Obama's overall approval rating among independents and Democrats is virtually unchanged since late April, but among Republicans it is up 12 points, to 27 percent," Holland says. "That 27 percent sounds pretty anemic, but it's Obama's highest approval rating among Republicans in over two years."

The same pattern holds among age groups. "Bin Laden's death has not made much difference in Obama's approval rating among people under the age of 65, but among senior citizens, positive views of his track record are up nine points, to 51 percent," Holland adds.

According to the poll, the president also gets a boost from his personal qualities, as has been the case since he first set foot on the national stage. Fifty-eight percent of Americans say he inspires confidence; 57 percent call him a strong leader.

And although the public gives Obama low marks on domestic issues, it appears they believe his heart is in the right place. Six in ten say that Obama cares about people, and 55 percent say he shares their values - the highest mark Obama has received on that measure since the "honeymoon" period in the months following his inauguration.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted May 24-26, with 1,007 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report


Filed under: CNN/ORC poll • Polls • President Obama
soundoff (73 Responses)
  1. Adalbert

    It is about time that the people of the US realize what a great leader that they have.

    May 30, 2011 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  2. Minnie

    Obama better win in 2012!!!! Palin is a joke n just using tv n the movies to try to get people to like her so she wins!! We do not need a republican!!

    May 30, 2011 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  3. Boo Hoo Baynor

    Who God Bless let no Man curse!! Obama 2012!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 30, 2011 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  4. Lost in Texas FOREVER

    so I guess him over in Europe was NOT just to have a "40 ounce" as one FoxNewser put it and play ping-pong..he was on a business trip and also took care of business when he came back home. And I guess he didn't throw Isreal under the bus as Romney and some of the other 2012ers put it once it was shown his view was the same not only of the past 3 POTUS but of the PM of Isreal himself. Perhaps the dumbing down of America has reached it's peak and folks are starting to think for themselves again...which means FoxNews could be trouble.

    May 30, 2011 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  5. maine liberal

    all these teaparty people that want to have a return to constitutional governance should read it. Foreign policy is exactly what the founders gave to the executive branch. any and all other complaint direct them to Congress and your newly elected reps.

    May 30, 2011 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  6. Lynne

    I hope this holds and just gets better. It doesn't hurt that the Cons are showing their true colors – total amnesia about job expansion, but complete support for tax cuts for the wealthy and right wing radical social agenda. I am pleased with all that President Obama and the Dems have accomplished especially when you consider they are paddling up stream against the Party of No (Compassion).

    May 30, 2011 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  7. TOTUS FOR PRESIDENT

    Memorial Day: a day when former presidents meet with families of our bravest men and women who sacrificed all for our country's security, freedom and way of life. And now we are in an unprecedented THREE WARS. So what does Obama do to commemorate this most solemn day as our Commander-In-Chief? Plays golf for the 70th time in his short presidency. CNN and the rest of the state-controlled MSM are dutifully asleep on this one again...

    May 30, 2011 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  8. NO TEA PLEASE!

    It's about time America!

    May 30, 2011 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  9. AK

    Obama/ Biden 2012.
    Their is still room on this train of hope and American Prosperity for more Independents and a few sane republicans...
    Ofcourse, Dems ride first class all the way...LOL

    May 30, 2011 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  10. Peter

    His overseas trips are a diversion to his incompetent domestic policies we are going bankrupt. Palin is more competent than obama

    May 30, 2011 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  11. annette

    i hope obama wins again because i do not think i can take sarah's voice anymore. sarah loves sarah and thats about it.

    May 30, 2011 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  12. Roscigno

    Comical that only one in four approve of his handling of gas prices. I swear this country is full of the biggest idiots on the planet. The President has nothing to do with gas prices, only a fool would think such. You want gas prices to go down? Maybe start with driving less or driving a more fuel efficient vehicle. These rednecks make me embarrassed to be not only an American but a human being as well.

    May 30, 2011 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  13. Sylvia

    President Obama makes the GOP field look like minions. All they do is criticize President Obama. Some one needs to
    tell these idiots that that is not a winning strategy especially that moron Ssrah Palin.

    May 30, 2011 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  14. Mark

    Obama who tried to weaken the intelligence community for two years takes credit for their ability to find Bin Laden:)

    Obama is a media hyped scum bag. Spend another billion on Libya my sheep!

    May 30, 2011 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  15. Emy

    President Obama has always been committed to public service and stuck it out to accomplish what he believes. Unlike some politicians that resign from office after less than 1 1/2 yrs to pursue more money and fame.

    May 30, 2011 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  16. a few r smart afterall

    Thank you Roscigno! I can't agree more. Simpletons like them and peterpuffer anger me.

    May 30, 2011 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  17. D.

    I wonder what the 54% of those polled actually approve of? Perhaps his golf game....?

    May 30, 2011 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  18. Name

    Totus apparently u did not see Obama lay a wreath in the tomb of the unknown soldier today or his visit to Arlington cementary, it was on tv right here on CNN! Where is your criticism of George W Bush spending 1/3 of his presidency on vacation and playing golf more than 100 times including a few days after 9/11!

    May 30, 2011 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  19. Al

    That's my Prez! Obama 2012

    May 30, 2011 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  20. danel

    hey peter hope Sarah will not quit in the middle of her presidency.

    May 30, 2011 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  21. amit

    Republicans biggest election cry is no longer valid after Obama got Osama, that none of the neocons tried for 7+ years. They cant win on domestic policy, since economy as well as deficit (to a certain extent) was Bushs' doing. Whats left? Health care and immigartion wont fly since too many young, old and immigrant voters benefit from it. They need Monica Lewenski soon.

    May 30, 2011 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  22. francisco

    Our Leader is doing a great job, takes a while to clean up all the deregulation that took place in last 8 years, you have my vote, Mr. President.

    May 30, 2011 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  23. jeff

    Hey GOP were are the jobs you were suppose to create?Amercan likes coffee more than tea ,go pres.your doing fine.

    May 30, 2011 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  24. Kevin

    PALIN HAS BEEN ON INTERVIEWS WHERE HER WORDS ARE INCOHERENT, THE WOMAN IS NOT READY AND HAS NEVER PREPARED HERSELF FOR THIS, PALIN LOVERS AND REP PLEASE VOTE HER TO RUN AGAINST OBAMA, YOU'LL BE DOIN US ALL A FAVOR. its funny how americans have lost their desire to elect a real leader, and just make their decisions based on the party .. Palin? Com'on son get the f outta here with that bs. I prefer romney huckabee or dare i say jeb bush.. my predictions Jeb Bush will be the top rep candidate . miami heat in 5

    May 30, 2011 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  25. once upon a horse

    @ TOTUS
    I guess you missed the part where the POTUS and his wife went to Arlington and paid respect to our fallen men and women. Also the part where he went directly to Joplin from the G8 trip to visit with the citizens there and offer comfort. So as CIC on the holiday I guess he was supposed to sit in the White House all day with his face in his hands...or better yet ride on the back of a motorcycle through DC with a bunch of bikers. Your precious Sarah Palin has done NOTHING whe it comes to Joplin NOR paying respects at Arlington. In fact to date NONE of the so-called 2012ers have shown up in SW Missouri.

    @Roscigno.....

    You are so RIGHT. I wonder now since gas prices are starting to come down if the same idiots that blamed Obama for it going up will credit him for it going down. I doubt it!

    May 30, 2011 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
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