CNN Poll: Americans rate W.H. response to Benghazi attack and Petraeus resignation
November 27th, 2012
05:00 AM ET
2 years ago

CNN Poll: Americans rate W.H. response to Benghazi attack and Petraeus resignation

Washington (CNN) - Americans are giving the White House low marks for how it's handled the terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and the resignation of former CIA Director David Petraeus, according to a new national survey.

But according to a CNN/ORC International poll released Tuesday, a majority of the public doesn't believe the Obama administration intentionally tried to mislead Americans on the September attack that left the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans dead. And the survey also indicates a plurality have a positive opinion of Petraeus and are divided on whether the former top U.S. should have resigned as CIA director after acknowledging an extra-marital affair.

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On Libya, 54% of the country is dissatisfied with the administration's response to the Benghazi attack, with only four in ten saying they're satisfied with the way the White House handled the matter.

"But that dissatisfaction is not because Americans see a cover-up," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Only 40% believe that the inaccurate statements that administration officials initially made about the Benghazi attack were an attempt to deliberately mislead the public. Fifty-four percent think those inaccurate statements reflected what the White House believed to be true at the time."

Nearly half of those questioned (48%) say that the U.S. could have prevented the attack on its consulate in Benghazi, with 42% saying the U.S. could not have prevented the attack.

According to the poll, the public is split right down the middle on how the Obama administration's handled the Petraeus resignation, with 44% saying that officials handled it appropriately and 44% disagreeing with that view.

The survey also indicates that Americans are also split over whether Petraeus, the former four-star general who commanded all U.S forces in Iraq and later in Afghanistan, should have resigned as CIA director. Forty-eight percent 48% say that was the right thing to do; with 48% opposed to the resignation, which happened just three days after the presidential election.

"One reason that the public is split on Petraeus' resignation is that his favorables outweigh his unfavorables by 16 points," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Forty-four percent have a positive view of him, compared to just 28% with a negative view. The rest are unfamiliar with Petraeus."

Another reason the public is divided on whether Petraeus should have resigned may be that most Americans don't think that adultery should be a crime under military law, and even fewer believe it should be a criminal offense for civilians, with that number dropping since the last time the question was asked in 1997.

Just over half of those questioned (52%) say Congress should investigate the Petraeus matter, with 47% saying they should not conduct an investigation.

The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International from November 16-18, with 1,023 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

– CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report

soundoff (116 Responses)
  1. Marta

    I think the picture says it all.

    November 27, 2012 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  2. algorelies

    Obama needs to be arrested, now!

    November 27, 2012 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  3. rizzo

    I love how Republicans have gotten all bent out of shape about 4 people dying in Benghazi, yet invading Iraq based entirely on lies and personal vendetta was a-ok. Good job there guys.

    November 27, 2012 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  4. algorelies

    Truth is, with gay sympathizing military leaders, Obama will assure himself of no present or future cup d'etats. Folks, with the military in his pocket, there will be no one to oust this joke for a president that this country has right now.
    Romney should have pressed on this issue during the debates and Obama should have been arrested afterwards...but noooo...not the "golden boy".

    November 27, 2012 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  5. VINCENT

    One again – who are they polling to get these numbers? This is the the same thing that led to so many Republicans feeling like Romney could win the Presidential election. Numbers are good but not when the number mangers are not being objective in who they reach out to then go a step further to post the very data that is indicative of the very thing that has many crying foul now.

    November 27, 2012 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  6. webster

    i think the general is not guilty ;we are all human ;he has high intergrity ,and out standing leader i think he should be given back his job ;as an honorable vetran i support him a great leader ;like conel Powel.

    November 27, 2012 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  7. callmecrazy

    I would have to agree with the majority on both accounts, as well as the turnout on the election and how we should fix the fiscal crisis. It looks to me like the majority of the people are starting to use their head and not be persuaded by right wing propaganda. This American is starting to believe there is still a chance we can straighten things out.

    November 27, 2012 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  8. rightospeak

    It is your spin.Most Americans think that you are not telling the truth because you are the Imperial Press. The Bengazi incident was staged most likely to make Obama look bad and no wonder that he canned the generals. The president can not be personally responsible for the safety of the Bengazi personnel-that is the job of his underlings like Petreus. So to blame President Obama for the incident is like blaming you for the hurricane Sandy damage because you did not warn people in time. You , the media , are more guilty of getting us into endless wars and are responsible for the deaths more than the presidents who were ill advised.Are our Courts going to prosecute the media ? I doubt it.

    November 27, 2012 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  9. quadrophenia1

    Maybe I should start watching FOX News....... where I can spend 14 hours a day seeing non-stop paranoid conspiracy theory, after paranoid conspiracy theory, after paranoid conspiracy theory. Can someone please tell me why anyone I've ever met that watches FOX all day is totally convinced that there's a Commie hiding behind every single rock in their own backyards just waiting to get them?

    November 27, 2012 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  10. Melissa

    Where do you do your polls? Everyone I know believes there is a coverup!

    November 27, 2012 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  11. Anonymous

    They didn't poll me !!!!!

    November 27, 2012 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  12. algorelies

    with Petraeus not holding a government office...well, he can come out and say EVERYTHING he may know on one Barack Hussein Obama.
    God, I hope so.

    November 27, 2012 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  13. jgolden66

    Most Americans do not believe there is a cover up because the mainstream media has refused to report the facts! If you want to know the truth of what happened you need to look at Fox News.

    November 27, 2012 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  14. glades2

    This is very similar to the crack in the Reagan armour that was discovered during the Iran-Contra scandal – the current situation is a weakness from the top down, not the other way around, and in this case it lead to the loss of 4 lives...

    November 27, 2012 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  15. elvisg

    Yes, it's time to move on. The election is over. Fox News covered it every night before the election. Yes, 4 people died. That's 4 too many. But hundreds of thousands died in Iraq in a war that was based on bogus information. I think that's a much bigger crime...

    November 27, 2012 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  16. ShawnDH

    I'm sure I'm not the only one who is sick to death of Republicans' goofy and desperate sore-loser conspiracy theories. It's pathetic. They are making complete fools of themsleves.

    November 27, 2012 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
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