CNN Poll: Obama ranks low among recent incumbents
November 15th, 2011
12:07 PM ET
2 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.

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soundoff (169 Responses)
  1. Fordo

    Even thhough Obama's approval is in the mid-40's it's still better than congress. Time to move on and get something done around. COMPROMISE ALREADY!!!

    November 15, 2011 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  2. gt

    no jobs...no jobs...no jobs... if blacks and a few left wings groups didnt have blindlers on.. i would be around 10 %

    November 15, 2011 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  3. K3Citizen

    Once Obama gets to debate the winner of the republican circus, he will tear them apart on every issue they disagree with him on. They can't even debate each other effectively let alone compete with a master debater.

    November 15, 2011 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  4. Fair is Fair

    "By a 54%-42% margin, independent voters disapprove of how the president's handling his duties."
    -----–
    Sayonara, Obama. It's been real, but it hasn't been real nice.

    November 15, 2011 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  5. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Polls are nice....
    Obama 2012. Seriously America.

    November 15, 2011 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  6. David

    If he continues to do the opposite of what needs to be done, then it will lead to his own sinking. Pushing this Pacific Trade Deal, after what happened with NAFTA, will not win him any more votes for example. He needs to fix NAFTA like he promised he would do in the last election...

    November 15, 2011 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  7. Charles

    Who did the poll?
    Who was polled?
    What kind of pol was it?
    I know for a fact that I wasn't asked whether or not I approved of Obama.
    As a matter of fact I dont personally know anybody who was polled.

    What does this poll mean?

    November 15, 2011 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  8. Ikjyot Singh Kohli

    Nonwhites approve of how Obama is doing by 2 to 1. This says it all right here, the first election was won by non-whites, this election will be decided by us non-whites as well. Sorry, but White people are becoming the minority in each country.

    November 15, 2011 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  9. Ed

    They are low because people are merely answering the questions honestly. Obama is a complete waste of time, air, and space. I can't think of anyone I'd not vote for over this idiot. I'm a conservative republican and I'd vote for Hillary in a second and welcome her with open arms if it meant getting rid of Obama. His "transparent" administration has been anything but.

    November 15, 2011 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  10. Democrat Party - leftist "progressive" socialist communist losers hellbent on destroying the USA

    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!
    ========================================================================================
    I seem to recall this very same thing being said months before the 2010 elections as well. Prepare yourself for Obama's humiliating defeat in one year. You have been warned.

    November 15, 2011 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  11. Bible Clown

    Polls – that's when you call a bunch of landline numbers and ask the old people what they think. Means nothing but a waste of our time.

    November 15, 2011 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  12. Keith in Austin

    Never in recent History has a first term President been re-elected with such low approval ratings. Funny how some Liberals denounce polls when the news isn't what they want to hear!

    November 15, 2011 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  13. so what

    it will go to 200% when he is finally compared to what ever moronic clown the GOP puts up.

    November 15, 2011 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  14. Michelle's Greasy Taint

    When asked about the poll results, Barry voted "present".

    November 15, 2011 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  15. Al

    His numbers are actually pretty high considering all the good that he's done, for example Solyndra, over 600 MILLION DOLLARS gone down the drain. Border patrol agents killed with guns provided by his administration and Eric under the operation Fast and Furious. Fannie and Freddie, bailed out every year he's been in the peoples White House and now they are once again asking for a bailout and at the same time getting a bonus. Yes he manned up and ordered the termination of OBL and Gaddafi no big loss to the planet. He's taken away peoples right to freedom of choice and put mandatory items in place, so much for our personal freedoms, thank you for violating our rights. So looking at this short list, his numbers are a little higher then they should be. But the idiots that voted for him before will be bought off and they will vote again for this anti-American, and I'm not talking about where he was hatched I'm talking about destroying what the American Revolution was all about.

    November 15, 2011 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  16. Rudy NYC

    The question(s) voters need to ask themselves is whether or not they think the economy is better or worse than it was on the day Pres. Obama was sworn in.

    And, exactly whose economic policies have really been in place for the past 3-4 years? So far, Republicans have forced Obama to govern like a conservative on domestic and economic issues. There have been no tax increase, only tax cuts during Obama's first term due to Republican filibusters on everything that didn't fit their ideology.

    November 15, 2011 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  17. Bible Clown

    Did bin Laden come back to life? No? Then Obama will be re-elected. Nobody polled me. I'd vote for him just to watch the GOP cry.

    November 15, 2011 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  18. MTATL67

    I just love poll stories because poll stories provide no actual useful information. Most poll stories are used by news organizations or reporters that prefer one candidate over another. As Mr. Holland says "It is not a foolproof predictor of election results". I go by action. The President has done everything he can to get the job done. The Congressional Republicans have done nothing. They have not helped one single person or community or business. Their obstructionist agenda is pure politics and they are sacrificing the welfare of the state to gain power. I’d be ashamed to be Republican in Congress right, I guess my parents raised me right.

    November 15, 2011 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  19. marsmotel

    One and done! He is the second coming of Jimmy Carter as one of the least experienced and clueless Presidents we ever had. Sorry Dems, it is not a party thing over here!

    November 15, 2011 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  20. cony 007

    Obama 2012 Landslide. The GOP is a joke. You have 8 dawarfs and snow white.

    November 15, 2011 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  21. Rudy NYC

    us1776 wrote:
    Their low b/c he's moved way too far to the right.
    ---------
    Has he? Or has he been pushed to the right by Republicans playing brinksmanship?

    November 15, 2011 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  22. David

    These things happen when you suck. Only 1 more year to go of this disaster.

    November 15, 2011 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  23. Pig in a poke

    Obama has been Judged a loser. He goed down to the history books tied with Jimmy Carter for worst POTUS in the last century.

    November 15, 2011 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  24. stevie

    I can`t believe his approval rating is as high as 46%!! I would think more like a 30% fringe approval...

    November 15, 2011 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  25. Independent Voters

    Look what the republicans done for american people. Who cares about the poll why the republicans congress is a do nothing congress.

    President Obama is doing a good job with these do nothing congress.

    November 15, 2011 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
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