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. NOVOKOV

    I was a Republican until I saw Sarah from Wasilla.

    I was a Republican until I saw the Fuhrers, Oligarchs, Tyrants, Czars, El Commandantes, Lords, Kings, Dictators, Emperors, Noble Princes, Despots for Life, Potentates, Autocrats, and Rulers in Ohio, Wisconsin, Florida, Michigan, and Arizona.

    May 30, 2011 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  2. ptown

    $ara doesn't want to meet obama on the debating floor. She can't speak without facebook

    May 30, 2011 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  3. ObamabeGONE>

    What foreign policy??? What did he DO???? He drank beer with the Irish. Showed utter disrespect for the Queen by not knowing what year it was and even more rude to yak yak yak during their National Anthem. The he talked with the polish for a while. Mean while Joplin is in shambles, farmland is flooded to save NO. What a leader we have here!!!!.

    May 30, 2011 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  4. Kara

    @TOTUS he went to lay a wreath in remembrance, quit lying, it's neither cut nor convincing.
    @Roscigno, it IS comical, but it's bound to confuse people when the press ask stupid questions isn't it?
    If a (formerly)reputable news organisation like CNN started asking if people approved of Obama's handling of the weather, eventually people would believe he had something to do with that as well.
    The media are the biggest embarassment here, and that's why no one respects them anymore.

    May 30, 2011 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  5. anne

    He is nothing but a joke. All he's ever been since he has been in office. This economy is horrible and he hasn't done a whole lot to improve it. A 4 year old could do a better job

    May 30, 2011 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  6. norman

    Hey People,

    It seems that the people are beginning to think for themselves. However, we still have some hold-outs. All that noise about the President was weak In the Commander-an Chief category was blown away with the killing of OSama. Now the crazy people have to find something else to lie about.. Go Obama, he is a very thoughtful individual, trying to deal with the disaster left for him....

    May 30, 2011 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  7. Kara

    BTW Not a SINGLE republican presidential candidate has been to Missouri, and none of them properly marked memorial day.
    Furthermore, republicans in congress are HOLDING UP Aid for Joplin on condition that it be paid for.(probably with cuts to medicaid)
    Why is CNN not covering this?
    And why do republican politicians still get away with pretending to be patriots?

    May 30, 2011 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  8. Patrick from Minnesota

    His hard work has paid off. I'm glad America has realized that (minus a few Republicans).

    May 30, 2011 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  9. Paul James Acosta

    The GOP must not win!!! They only care for the Rich, they will destroy this great nation of ours, Obama must win!!! OBAMA 2012!!!

    May 30, 2011 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  10. Patrick from Minnesota

    TOTUS, Pres. Obama was at ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETARY today, just like all Presidents do on Memorial Day. I do not fault CNN or MSNBC for not falling for your hatred and lies.

    May 30, 2011 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  11. dave

    With Trump out, Palin will make a fine clown for the media circus. She has the right to run, anybody over 35 born in the USA does. Good luck Sarah, you will need tons. Pick a good VP so if hell freezes over and you win then quit (it's your thing)we have someone with an IQ till 2016.

    May 30, 2011 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  12. mike kerns

    Republicans will only vote for a Republican president regardless of of Obama's job performance.

    May 30, 2011 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  13. John

    President Obama should be enjoying stratospheric approval ratings. The fact that he is not above 55% is prrof of the combined power of ignorance and right wing propaganda media.

    May 30, 2011 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  14. Charlie

    @Peter, come on how on earth can you compare fire in the belly but hot air in the brain stupid Palin to the Pres.Obama.l mean all hate aside.

    May 30, 2011 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  15. AK

    Roscigno, I fell of my chair laughing after reading your post. I thought the same thing...

    May 30, 2011 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  16. Jay in NC

    @Roscigno, Liberals blamed President Bush for high gas prices. I guess Barry is just not as powerful or effective, therefore his supporters do not hold him accountable.

    May 30, 2011 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  17. AZ DEM

    Why is gas prices even a question people are being polled? If Obama could make gas cost 1.00 per gallon again it would have been done as soon as he came into office. Regardless of this the president has been doing a great job and it took his decision making with OBL to show the few sane Republicans that the president is a strong commander in chief. He isn't going to be easy to defeat in 2012 regardless of his opponent.

    May 30, 2011 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  18. ChinaownsAmericanow

    Why does he make fun of closing the border? It's not like the open border has anything to do with allowing the Mexican/American drug cartel machines to keep making money and killing people.

    Oh that's right, the Hispanic voters are single issues voters so he knows he can keep them on his side with empty amnesty promises.

    May 30, 2011 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  19. anne

    Love obama he inherited a big mess from BUSH things take time ! Sarah Palin is a stupid I can't even believe anyone would even take her seriously !!!

    May 30, 2011 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  20. ChinaownsAmericanow

    Obama is happy to destroy our economy and turn it into another Latin American country as long as him and his friends are in power.

    According to his Spanish language advertising he wants Hispanic voters to punish me because I know America's unemployment means we don't need more unskilled workers to cross over illegaly and further raise the unemployment rate.

    May 30, 2011 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  21. ric

    To bad for the left that when the country votes in 2012, its going to be all about the economy. The kool-aid drinkers are just gushing for job approval that has hit 54% on a CNN poll that is tilted left. I dont think that is something to be proud of.

    Obama is trying to hold on to power by adding to those 47% of americans that are on food stamps. Obama is a socislist whose policies exact copies of all that was tried and failed in Europe. Thats what makes me laugh, the liberal left is just so braindead to belive that anything Obama has done has actually helped the country. What a joke.

    Obama is out in 2012 no doubt.

    May 30, 2011 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  22. Name

    Obama is the greatest ever.HOd bless him.God bless America.

    May 30, 2011 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  23. thanksroscigno

    Yes...thank u Roscigno...finally someones paying attention.

    May 30, 2011 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  24. Name

    Obama is simply the best.I see no other person with that ability to change america

    May 30, 2011 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  25. EnoughIsEnough

    I wonder if the President's low number regarding "taxes" is because most people polled think that the top 2% should pay more, as was the case under former President Clinton. It can't be because they think their taxes are too high. President Obama has cut taxes on the middle class. These polls don't give enough information.

    May 30, 2011 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
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