CNN Poll: Obama ranks low among recent incumbents
November 15th, 2011
12:07 PM ET
3 years ago

CNN Poll: Obama ranks low among recent incumbents

Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama's overall approval rating remains in the mid-40s, where it has been since July, and he continues to receive much higher marks for foreign policy than for domestic issues, according to a new national survey out one year before he is up for re-election.

A CNN/ORC International Poll released Tuesday indicates that 52% of all Americans approve of how the president is handling the situation in Iraq, an indication that Americans tend to favor Obama's decision to withdraw all U.S. troops from that country by year's end. Forty-eight percent of those questioned approve of how he is handling the war in Afghanistan. By contrast, only 35% have a positive view of his economic track record, and just 38% approve of how he is handling health care policy.

Full results (pdf)

It all adds up to an overall 46% approval rating for the president, with 52% saying they disapprove of how Obama is handling his job in the White House.

"That's par for the course for Obama, whose overall approval rating has been hovering in the mid 40s in every CNN poll conducted since June," CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said.

In comparison to recent incumbents running for re-election, Obama's 46% approval ranks above only Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford - who both lost their re-election bids - in November of the year before an election. Most incumbents who were re-elected had an approval rating above 50% a year before the election. But George W. Bush, at 50%, and Richard Nixon, at 49%, also won re-election, and Bush's father George H.W. Bush had a 56% approval rating yet lost to Bill Clinton the following year.

"Translation: while the approval rating is an important indicator of a president's strength, it is not a foolproof predictor of election results," Holland said.

See how Obama's number stack up.

The poll indicates that the standard partisan divide over the president remains, with three-quarters of Democrats giving Obama a thumbs up but only 15% of Republicans approving of the job he's doing in office. By a 54%-42% margin, independent voters disapprove of how the president's handling his duties.

Women are divided on how Obama's performing, but men disapprove by a 55%-43% margin. White Americans give Obama a thumbs down by a 61%-36% margin, with non-white Americans give the president a thumbs up by a more than 2-1 margin.

The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International from November 11-13, with 1,036 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.

Also see:

Newspaper editor defends Cain interview

Cain stumbles over Libya

Gloria Cain: I never believed allegations were true

soundoff (169 Responses)
  1. Max

    ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!

    These polls mean ABSOLUTELY NOTHING one year away from a general election. VERY MISLEADING and lean more to FALSE according to CNN truth squad!

    November 15, 2011 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  2. Max in NY

    it makes sense that his approval ratings are low...people in this country don't follow politics and don't know what the filibuster is, so they probably think hes doing nothing

    November 15, 2011 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  3. Lynda/Minnesota

    Plain and simple: Republicans certainly aren't giving me an alternative to vote against President Obama. To the contrary, actually.

    November 15, 2011 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  4. Meki60

    what has Obama done to elevate his poll status? its easier to list the things that have brought him down.

    November 15, 2011 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  5. Robert jay

    This just proves the value of the media and their constant manipulation of events to shape information. The majority of Americans support president Obama yet this "POLL" shows he is not – so CNN – which is it ? The other thing is the media panders to the squeeky wheel while ignoring facts, Pres Obama did not – repeat did not create this economic disaster (as has been proven) yet the media is happy to allow this misinformation to grow without so much as a word.
    Riding the fence between right and wrong in how you diseminate the news one day is going to catch up with you!

    November 15, 2011 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  6. billy

    This Pres is soon to be a one and done !

    November 15, 2011 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  7. Judge Dread

    The right questions are:
    1) What is the approval ranking of the republican congress?
    2) Do you think that the republicans are working to improve the country or their own political interests?
    3) Would you vote for a republican after seeing all of the obstruction and lack of solutions for the country?

    November 15, 2011 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  8. Newmoon2

    Oooh... big headline! Inherited the worst economy in decades (possibly EVER) and the opposition has made his ouster their major goal (rather than helping to improve the economy). What a SHOCK his numbers are low... and yet they (the opposition) refuse to field a decent candidate for 2012.

    November 15, 2011 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  9. TwM

    Robert Jay no he did not create this problem, yet he has done nothing to remedy it either. He was too engrossed with wasting time on vacations and on the monster Health care reform bill (his legacy). God forbid that bill gets killed by the Supreme Court he would than have accomplished exactly none of his promises.

    November 15, 2011 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  10. us1776

    Their low b/c he's moved way too far to the right.

    .

    November 15, 2011 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  11. Phillip

    MEKI60 I am going to go with your assertion just for the sake of debate, I have to ask because it is easy as you have said here. What is it that POTUS has done that could easily explain, some say low poll numbers, if you can please be specific.

    November 15, 2011 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  12. Positive

    Yes, but remember, the GOP has never had such wrong-headed, extreme and wildly-unpopular policies as they do now. They won't put forth an even modestly reasonable or capable person as the GOP nominee. People will choose the level-headed Obama over any of the GOP contenders.

    Just look at the approval ratings for Congress. You think this country is going to elect a president to empower the House GOP to put forth policies that have already been so widely rejected?

    November 15, 2011 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  13. sarah from Dumfries VA

    The Presidents problem is the economy but it will get better and he will win re-election,compared to these sorry GOP canidates

    November 15, 2011 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  14. Dee

    He'll be fine.. a new Rasmussen poll had him at 50-49 yesterday.. voters will realize that we can't trust the Republicans.. and with the nutjobs they have running, President Obama is a shoe-in for 2012.. those guys won't step a foot near the white house lawn..

    November 15, 2011 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  15. willard

    I will not vote for presdient obama 2012 cause obama are not stronger with his enmcony. But he is still very weak

    November 15, 2011 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  16. Walter

    It will be fascinating to watch the spin from the left next year if (as expected) unemployment remains at, or above, 9%. I suspect they'll scream and squawk that he could get things done if it wasn't for those nasty Republicans. Well guess what, there are way more Republicans than there are Obamas. It's highly doubtful that enough Republicans are going to lose to "allow" Obama to do what he wants.

    November 15, 2011 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  17. one voice

    Has Obama even had a chance to MOVE THE COUNTRY FORWARD? NO. 245 fifibusters and counting, Our #1 goal is to make President Obama a 1 term President. 2012 can't get here fast enough. OBAMA/BIDEN 2012

    November 15, 2011 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  18. LibsLieAlways

    Five days on the website, no earmarks or veto, CSPAN cameras during all health care debate that ALWAYS includes both sides, no lobbyists in his administration, never raise the debt ceiling, never raise taxes during a recession, bring people together no more partisan vitriol or class warfare, never military action without congressional approval, never private campaign funds too corrupting.......and five hundred other whoppers suprising poll numbers? NOT!!

    November 15, 2011 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  19. Dee

    SO TRUE!:
    Judge Dread
    The right questions are:
    1) What is the approval ranking of the republican congress?
    2) Do you think that the republicans are working to improve the country or their own political interests?
    3) Would you vote for a republican after seeing all of the obstruction and lack of solutions for the country?

    November 15, 2011 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  20. Get Real

    Why don't they ask which news outlet pollsters listen to? People's opinions of the President's job are based upon what they hear from the media. Right wingers obviously get their 'news' from extremists like Limbaugh, Beck, etc. These are the people who get ratings based upon creating divisions, instead of accurate reporting.
    They are irresponsible in their rhetoric and are a disservice to our nation. They are traitors, who only spread propaganda for profit .

    November 15, 2011 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  21. LibsLieAlways

    Worst person to ever hold the office........

    November 15, 2011 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  22. demdumdems

    Robert Jay???? Really???? You're spouting bias from the media AGAINST Obama???? Are you joking???? Yes, this started in the previous regime....but he's had 2 1/2 years to clean it up and it not ony has not been cleaned up.....it's gotten worse. There has not been one single improvement in the jobs market, housing market, infastructure, or economy in general since the great BHO took office.

    November 15, 2011 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  23. Recoveringrepublican

    What about that worthless band of bums in congress? No mention of the latest poll on what the 1% think of the worthless, lousy congress in history... because they dont want to expose the real truth....

    November 15, 2011 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  24. Carter

    To TwM – 20 straight months of job growth vs lossing 750,000 a month by the previous administration is a great, I repeat great accomplishment.

    November 15, 2011 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  25. Bertina

    Of course his numbers are low, the American economy isn't going to be fixed by magic and that upsets a lot of stupid people out there.

    November 15, 2011 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7