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.

Also see:

Newspaper editor defends Cain interview

Cain stumbles over Libya

Gloria Cain: I never believed allegations were true

soundoff (169 Responses)
  1. Hangar13

    That's rich, Robert jay, it's all those far-right news outlets, CNN, NBC, etc. who are making the public dislike the President's job performance. He inherited a recession, and made it worse. Inherited a big deficit, and made it worse. Inherited two wars, made them worse and added a third. Inherited a flawed health care system, and made it worse. How could anyone disapprove?

    November 15, 2011 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  2. Ralph

    Hell must be full of Republicans.

    November 15, 2011 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  3. Alissa

    The polls are misleading. If they are trying to conduct a survey, instead of calling in by land line, try cellphones or even text. Almost everyone owns a cellphone. Obama is doing an excellent job considering that he is cleaning up past presidents' mistakes; it will take more than 2 years guys. May I also add that Romney is a hypocrite, decide on your platform, stay concrete.

    November 15, 2011 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  4. a person of interest

    That's because everyone has to blame someone...Hell did you really need an H2 or an escalade in the mid 2000's...I'm not blaming Bush either...As A country we are more into bucking the system, tattoos...making it to the pros in B-Ball. .If you don't want go to school, why not learn a skill such as woodworking, plumbing something that rich people won't and can't do... hone that skill and charge the crap out of them...That's how you get money out of them and back into the system...sitting around having hoop dreams,Tattoos and listening music is going to eventually get you a job at Walmart for 13 bucks a hour! Get ass up and do something...point the finger at you...I know I am and I regret not pushing myself more....

    November 15, 2011 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  5. ishkabibble

    Barack Hussein Obama

    November 15, 2011 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  6. PrideOfBoston

    Shocking that 46% of any sample of Americans could approve of President Obama. I guess there are more union hacks and layabouts than I thought. Fortunately, he is a lame duck POTUS and will spend the next year doing the only thing he does well, campaigning. Let's face it, this country might not be able to survive anymore of his failed policies. Come 2012, Mitt is going to put this country back on the right track but he will have his work cut out for him thanks to Barry.

    November 15, 2011 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  7. 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 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  8. Jonathan

    Why aren't more nuanced questions asked in these polls? I can think of two right off-hand. Do you disapprove of Obama because he's been far too conservative or far too compromising with conservatives? Will you vote for Obama regardless of your disapproval of him?

    I might disapprove of Obama, but I'm certainly going to be voting for him given his opposition.

    November 15, 2011 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  9. Handofdoom

    Loling , but Obama approval rating remains in the mid-40s, loling , sorry I don't understand how it is that High . More people I ask about Obama , " the more I find Can't stand him !

    November 15, 2011 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  10. Eli

    Obama lied, the economy died.

    November 15, 2011 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  11. Luke Brown

    The Republicans in Congress and the Republican Presidential field has spent three years beating up on Obama, questioning everything he tries to do. They even claim he is not an American citizen.

    Of course, his approval numbers are down. Fortunately, he has chosen to be President and solve problems. Once he is out there telling his story, his numbers will go up. That is exactly what happened with Reagan, Clinton, and the Bushes.

    November 15, 2011 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  12. hjs3

    Republicans and their Congress bring nothing to the game but obstructionism , bumper sticker slogans and the same old protectionist blah, blah for the top 1%.....Solutions? Not so much...
    But wait! They do have Grover Norquist who has them all signing anti Girl Scout Cookie revenue pledges.
    The Tea Party division of the same lacks any leadership coherency whatsoever and is wholly baffled
    by anything beyond middle-school civics. Ya, that's an ooops alright.....

    November 15, 2011 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  13. Debbie

    Anyone who thinks he is as high as the mid-40's is full of it. He is about to get slammed once all the evidence of Solyndra, fast and furious and some of the other examples of major corruption in this administration come out. At some point the media will have to show the ineptness, deceitful, and juvenile characteristics of this administration for what they are. As a black woman who voted for the first black man because I believed the hype I will never vote again out emotion. Next time I will vote with someone who has actually accomplished something like Cain who turned a bankrupt company into a fortune 500 company...

    November 15, 2011 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  14. CorruptUS

    this just proves that the typical american citizen has no clue as to what is going on.

    November 15, 2011 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  15. Kris

    To believe that Obama caused this Economic Mess is NUTS! Anyone has to be Delusional to believe that that GOP has any interest in the middle class....I just can't believe that Americans would be stupid enough to give the Keys to the Kingdom back to the GOP. I won't believe that...In fact, I see the Wing Nuts in the Tea Party leaving the scene much sooner than later.

    November 15, 2011 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  16. Scott

    I voted for Obama last election, biggest mistake of my life. i was taken in by his smooth talk, Truns out that all he has going for him. This time around whoever the Republican is, I am voting for him. I am an independent. that believs in voting for the best one that I like.

    November 15, 2011 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  17. Eric

    Doesn't matter what Obama's poll numbers are...I'M STILL VOTING FOR HIM AGAIN!

    OBAMA 2012!!!

    November 15, 2011 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  18. Jake

    @ Debbie.....you are so uniformed.

    November 15, 2011 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  19. brian in dc

    For good reason, his theatrics don't work anymore. Went to the well to many times Odumbo.

    November 15, 2011 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  20. Anon

    Fortunately the GOP will be putting up a stong alternative: either Willard 'Flip Flop' Romney, Herman 'Spermin' Cain, Michelle 'Flake' Bachmann, Rick 'Oops' Perry, Ron 'Let Him Die' Paul, or Newt 'Gasbag' Gingrich.

    November 15, 2011 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  21. CreoleMan

    To TwM,
    what can ONE man do agaisnt a blockade? Be real and admit you do not like Obama, period. The uninformed level of information on these blogs is crazy-did anyone go to school to actually READ something instead of listen to the media? We have gone global people-no replubican can control or fix this situation we are in.Especially a republican-controlled Senate hellbent on self-destruction.

    November 15, 2011 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  22. Jack Be Humble

    Yesterday they showed information on the Republican candidates, so it only makes sense that they try to come up with a comparable article today about the sitting President.

    November 15, 2011 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  23. a person of interest

    Also Mitch McConnell main object is not the country it's to make President Obama a 1 term president good job "turtle"
    I thought President Obama didn't have enough experience...Hence Cain...a pizza maker with no foreign policy...How many terrorists and plots has this administration exterminated? Still aint good enuf for racist YT....YT you can relax now
    you don't have vote for a true Black President now...you can pull out your racist card again. Too bad Cain didn't see it coming you can play with the white kids, but ya can't go home to dinner with them....

    November 15, 2011 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  24. ksuflash

    Judge Dread – here's your answers.

    1)The Senate has a democratic majority...thus your statement of a Republican congress is incorrect. The House has a Republican majority. That makes it a mixed congress.
    2)All politicians are looking out for their own political interest...if you think democrats are any different than republicans in this respect, then you're politics are clearly partisan.
    3)Yes, I'd vote for a Republican...I'd also vote for a Democrat...or an Independent. It's not the party I'm voting for...

    November 15, 2011 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  25. H. Knickerbocker

    President Obama thinks too much and feels too little. He' s a very reasonable man, very decent, and very honest; but he's out of touch with how people in this country feel. He also has a bad habit of avoiding confrontations and would rather compromise with his adversaries than kick them in the balls. He gets low marks for not standing up to the right wing opposition by representing the hopes of the people who elected him to office. The old saying that nice guys finish last seems somehow appropriate for President Obama. And, unfortunately, what's true of President Obama seems to apply to the democratic party as a whole. They are too meek and self-conflicted to be of any value.

    November 15, 2011 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
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