CNN Poll: Obama approval rating drops as fears of depression rise
June 8th, 2011
11:02 AM ET
3 years ago

CNN Poll: Obama approval rating drops as fears of depression rise

(CNN) – President Barack Obama's overall approval rating has dropped below 50 percent as a growing number of Americans worry that the U.S. is likely to slip into another Great Depression within the next 12 months, according to a new national poll.

A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll released Wednesday also indicate that the economy overall remains issue number one to voters, with other economic issues - unemployment, gas prices and the federal deficit - taking three of the remaining four spots in the top five.

Read the full results (pdf).

Forty-eight percent of people questioned say they approve of how the president is handling his duties in the White House, down six points from late May. An equal 48 percent say they disapprove of how Obama's performing, up three points from late last month.

The poll indicates a slight deterioration among Democrats and independent voters, with the president's approval rating among Democrats down three points to 82 percent and down five points among independents to 42 percent.

"But far and away his biggest drop has come among Republicans. In May, over a quarter approved of President Obama's handling of his job, but that is down to 14 percent now, a clear indication that any advantage he gained from taking out Osama bin Laden has faded with time," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

According to the survey Obama's strength remains his personal appeal: Three-quarters of all Americans say they approve of him personally, including a plurality of Republicans. But positive views of the president's personality may be trumped by economic jitters.

"Obama's approval among Republicans spiked after bin Laden's death, and no one expected it to stay that high for another 18 months. But the White House is probably worried more about the much smaller drops among independents and even Democrats. Those shifts are likely due to concerns about the economy, particularly unemployment," adds Holland.

Forty-eight percent say that another Great Depression is likely to occur in the next year - the highest that figure has ever reached. The survey also indicates that just under half live in a household where someone has lost a job or are worried that unemployment may hit them in the near future. The poll was conducted starting Friday, when the Labor Department reported that the nation's jobless rate edged up to 9.1 percent.

"The poll reminded respondents that during the Depression in the 1930s, roughly one in four workers were unemployed, banks failed, and millions of Americans were homeless or unable to feed their families," says Holland. "And even with that reminder, nearly half said that another depression was likely in the next 12 months. That's not just economic pessimism - that's economic fatalism."

According to the survey, more than eight in ten Americans say that the economy is in poor shape, a number that has stubbornly remained at that level since March.

Not surprisingly, with that much economic angst, the economy is the number one issue, the only one that more than half of the public says will be extremely important to their vote for president next year. Nearly all issues that at least four in ten say will be extremely important to their vote are domestic issues. Terrorism also makes that list, but Afghanistan is fairly low and Libya is tied for dead last out of the 15 issues tested. Abortion and gay marriage also rank very low, indicating that 2012 may be an election that is shaped more by bread-and-butter issues than social and moral concerns.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted June 3-7, with 1,015 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 Polls • Polls • President Obama
soundoff (54 Responses)
  1. kakaraka

    What? In what planet these people are living on? The economy create jobs slowly. So what is the great depression threat people are talking about. These republicans are spreading fears and misinformation around. Wake up people. Obama is better than the republicans, all combined. Good job Mr. President. You will be re-elected in 2012. Obama/Clinton forever.

    June 8, 2011 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  2. AK

    The man hair continues to grey.....
    Godspeed Mr. President. True Americans are routing for your success.

    June 8, 2011 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  3. Rick in OP

    This feels like the mid-1970's all over again when Jimmy Carter was the president.
    Do not underestimate how difficult it is to change this mindset. Obama is in really big trouble.

    June 8, 2011 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  4. rs

    Amazing- Republican Governors (like our own "Deathpanel" Jan Brewer in AZ) lay off thousands of government workers, driving up unemployment numbers, turn down federal Medicare and unemployment compensation further damaging the economy, then blame Obama for failed recovery-that they have fought at every single turn, for a depression created by Bush and 10 years of Republican "leadership"?

    Only in America.

    I WILL NEVER vote for a Republican EVER again. I started out as a Republican, but time has taught me that they are not the party of the working man, only the super rich, and corporations.

    June 8, 2011 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  5. once upon a horse

    if anything this just shows how fickle we as Americans are.....Obama catches bin Laden and his numbers soar. The economy doesn't create a lot of jobs in May after doing so in April and March and then his numbers drop. Anyone notice that gas prices are starting to come down? Guess after getting blamed for the rise he should get no credit for the drops. All this polling does is keep so-called "stat-geeks" employed because you can manipulate a poll by only asking a sample population. ie if you want a certain number ask a certain group moreso than the other group. If the GOP though goes out and creates all those jobs they said they would in Nov 2010 then maybe their poll numbers will rise a bit too.

    June 8, 2011 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  6. Joshua

    And I thought Obama was the best economic leader of this century - thats a joke. He could take lessons from any of the past Presidents either Bush's, Reagan or Clinton. From 2001 to 2007 unemployment never surpassed 5%. We are at 9.1% right now as Obama has been an abject failure when it comes to leading America. Facts and numbers don't lie as much as Democrats would like to spin them.

    June 8, 2011 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  7. Rudy NYC

    As long as the government continues to cut spending and increase deficits, that rope that they have been pulling on to pull our economy back up the cliff that Bush-43 leaped from can break. The federal government has been recieving 1/3 less revenue for the past decade. And, it continues to limp along without revenue. Gravity is winning the battle.

    June 8, 2011 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  8. GI Joe

    Republicans take from the poor to give to corporations.

    That's all anyone needs to know to make an informed decision.

    June 8, 2011 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  9. Biggge

    Everyone knows the GOP Governs are laying off State workers to help sink the economy, State workers are the only sector not hiring...Everyone is helling job creation but are layiing off. The GOP did the same thing in Nov. election, spead fear. Ask the people in Wisconsin how they feel about the GOP takeover....Don't be fooled...

    June 8, 2011 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  10. Four and The Door

    Americans are not going to accept poor results. They will clap for speeches and be forgiving to a point. But at the end of the day Americans pay attention to results. This is not going to do the Obama Administration any favors.

    June 8, 2011 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  11. john

    We are in another Great Depression! The downward trend started in 2007 when the Democrats took over Congress and accelerated when Obama became president in 2008.

    The president's approval rating is in the toilet, it’s not hard to figure out why!
    higher unemployment
    higher taxes
    higher home foreclosure rate
    tax evading Democratic Party
    Democrats lying thru their teeth
    tax evading Obama administration
    out of control budget / no budget
    health care reform disaster
    price of gasoline
    price of food
    the price of everything is going up

    June 8, 2011 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  12. Biggge

    It is amazing how we have let these sorry Governs get away with murder, it's Obama fought is not flying anymore...

    June 8, 2011 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  13. Scott in Atlanta

    Can someone explain to me how we're currently heading toward a "depression" when the economy is growing and creating jobs (however slowly) Stocks are rebounding... Financial institutions are stabilizing... Housing market has seen the worst and is poised for recovery???

    How can it be that this is considered "at risk" for depression, when in 2008 (The previous administration) we were losing 2 million jobs a month, the economy was shrinking, housing was plummeting like the CEO of the big banks, hurling themselves from their penthouse suites...??? And not a peep about a "depression"

    Come on now. Could it be that some on the right may be trying to spread fear??? Nooooo... Couldn't be... Could it?

    June 8, 2011 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  14. diridi

    They guy who caught Bin Laden, one stupid lady told me, it is needle in haystack....he got caught, nothing is impossible....obama, go....do it...bring jobs back....o.k, focus on energy....green energy back....focus on education, science and tech, R and D, and bring Afgan troops back, Iraq troops back.....good luck.....you can do it.......you have plus point, GOP runners all bunch of rascals.....

    June 8, 2011 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  15. AZ DEM

    It is going to be difficult to convince Americans that the econmy is finally fully recovered because that isn't the case. Do I blame President Obama for that?? Only somewhat most people's complaints are joblessness, higher gas prices, and just a general feeling of things not improving fast enough. if Obama could have his way unemployment would be less than 5% but that isn't the reality we're in. First we need to get those huge debts from the wars paid off and we need to fix our revenue problem which means TAXES ARE GOING UP...and not just on the wealthy but EVERYONE the Bush tax cuts are gone come next year so get ready.

    The fact that Obama has been given 2+ years to fix a mess 9 years in the making is ridiculous and shows how dumb most Americans really are. Obama is going to get a 2nd term and then we will truly be able to judge his work on the economy after 2 full terms have been served.

    June 8, 2011 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  16. Lynn

    A representative from Mesirow Financial Services was on Washington Journal this morning. She said during the mild recession that occurred under the Bush Administration, it took 38 months for the job market to recover. Why is it we expect the economy to recover i.e. unemployment, in 2 1/2 years after the greatest recession since the Great Depression. It took the Bush Administration 8 years to drive this economy into the ditch. Another expert who was on discussing the auto bailout, said that gas prices are being driven primarily by speculation.....and that Congress has failed to address that.

    June 8, 2011 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  17. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    The America that we were was NOT scared of it's own shadow, and definitely knew that it would take time and UNITED effort to fix our problems.
    What we have is mainly a spoiled, I-want-it-fixed-now-but-don't inconvenience-me, under-educated, easily scared populace
    We screwed ourselves into this predicament YET would still go with the team that put us here, and has no ideas as to how to get us out that support someone who told us from the beginning that it would take time and tough measures.
    Oh well, America, oh well.

    June 8, 2011 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  18. Lynn

    To add to my comment.......the media is certainly responsible for perpetuating an environment of fear and anxiety.

    June 8, 2011 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  19. Irma in North Carolina

    When they do the polls do they only talk to the republican people.

    June 8, 2011 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  20. Democrat Swamp Inspector

    The fact is Obama and the Democrats took a recession and tried to use it to blast through all of the horrendous liberal agenda they could. The turned a recession into a prolonged, deep recession, maybe even a depression.

    The "Stimulus Plan" was a farce and had virtually NOTHING to do with creating jobs. All it did was preserve state government union jobs for a year or two but now they have to be cut anyways. So nothing gained, the pain prolonged and we're $840 BILLION deeper in debt.

    Obama "saved" the cars companies??? Yes, for the unions and a foreign car maker. NOTHING was done that couldn't have been done in banruptcy proceedings, except Obama saved the unions from losing anything while the taxpayer got stuck with the tab yet again.

    Obamacare??? While the country was in a deep financial crisis Obama and the Democrats decided to rework 1/6th of our economy to their liking. A huge new government entitlement programs while we're drowning in $62 TRILLION in unfunded liabilities already. Businesses uncertain of one of their biggest expenses, now thousands of Obama friends are getting waivers to avoid this the Obamacare train wreck. And then there is the Constituional issue that really ticks off many people. A flippin disaster from start to finish complements of Obama, Reid and Pelosi.

    June 8, 2011 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  21. wishing

    Just like the period leading up to the last election, the GOP Republicans will do everything they can to make the economy worse between now and November 2012. They do not care about everyday working Americansl; they only care about the election.

    All Patriotic Americans, those who support mainstream America, who believe that America is as great as we treat those weakest among us and live up to our Progressive principles, need to hire someone today, next month, and the month after. Economists have been telling us the US companies are currently rich in cash, hesitent to hire. Many of them have begun a massive stock buyback program to reward investors. What they really need to do now, in support of the economy, the middle class and the consumers who buy their products, is begin hiring.

    The next election is going to come down to hiring; the Republicans doing what they can to slow it down, Patriots doing what they can to strengthen the economy through hiring, and the middle class trying to figure out which party is telling the truth most of the time. God Bless America.

    June 8, 2011 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  22. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    The President has made TREMENDOUS progress in spite of the undisputable fact that he has been going at it alone since his inauguration.
    There's a certain segment of "Team America" (read elected officials) that would rather SINK our country and it's people than have this man succeed as President.

    June 8, 2011 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  23. Four and The Door

    AZ DEM
    ...The fact that Obama has been given 2+ years to fix a mess 9 years in the making is ridiculous and shows how dumb most Americans really are.
    _______________________________________________________________________________________________
    Actually, most Americans are smarter than you Democrats give them credit for. They really do look not just at the calendar but at policies and reason and they actually do pay attention when promises are made. None of this helps the Obama Administration in the polls.

    June 8, 2011 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  24. Bill from GA

    Part of the problem with our government is that the dems are afraid to do anything because they know the repugs will block it.

    They should throw out some bills, let the repugs block them, and then tell the American people about it.

    Barry did screw up major league with his tax cut extension.

    BTW, the Stimulus DID work; look at the economic data (job growth, GDP, stock markets) from the early part of the Obama administration. Need More!!

    June 8, 2011 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  25. once upon a horse

    face it a lot of this so-called fear is MEDIA DRIVEN...by folks that just depend on the media to supply them with what may be going on today. Ok so the May numbers were not as high as hoped, but they were not negative....the private sector is still creating jobs just slower than we want. How many jobs was this nation losing when Obama took office? Why is it when corporations and many CEOs are making record profits and bonuses that they are still not willing to hire people? I thought the extention of the Bush tax cuts was suppose to help that......I guess the GOP was wrong as well. OF course they hope the economy does NOT get much better so they can run on that. Obama's numbers are going to go up and down until election time so for Oabma suppoters I say don't let this get you down and for the Obama-haters I say don't let this get you on too much of a high.

    June 8, 2011 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
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