CNN Poll: Has Obama been all that?
January 18th, 2013
04:00 PM ET
1 year ago

CNN Poll: Has Obama been all that?

Washington (CNN) - More than half of all Americans say that President Barack Obama has met or exceeded their expectations of how he would handle his job in the White House, but according to a new national survey, that represents a steep drop-off compared to the start of his first term in office.

And a CNN/ORC International poll released Friday also indicates the president gets low or middling approval ratings for some of the top concerns on the public's mind.

According to the survey, nearly half of all Americans say the economy remains the most important issue facing the country today, with the federal budget deficit in second place at 23%.

So how's Obama doing on those issues?

Forty-eight percent say they approve of the job he is doing on the economy, with 51% disapproving. Just over four in ten give the president a thumbs up on how he has dealt with the deficit, with 57% giving him a thumbs down.

"President Obama gets a lower approval rating on the deficit than any other of the 15 issues tested in the survey," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

Number three on the list of important issues is health care, at 14%. Half the public approves of Obama's track record on that issue, but half disapprove.

Obama gets a better rating on foreign policy, and scores his highest approval on terrorism. But only 4% of the public says that foreign policy is the top issue facing the country. Six in ten approve of how Obama is handling environmental policy, which next to terrorism is his best grade in the poll, but only 2% say that the environment is the country's most important issue, number seven out of the seven issues tested.

"It all adds up to a familiar pattern for Obama: high marks on a wide range of issues that appear to be of secondary concern to the public and lower numbers on a few key issues like the economy and the deficit that are uppermost on Americans' minds," adds Holland.

The president's overall approval rating stands at 55% in a CNN poll released on Wednesday, with 43% saying they disapprove of the job Obama is doing in the White House. Of those who disapprove, 34% say they disapprove because Obama is too liberal, with 7% saying they give the president a thumbs down because he's not liberal enough.

The president's approval rating is up three points from a mid December CNN/ORC poll that was conducted just days after a suicidal gunman killed 26 people, including 20 children, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

The public is divided on the job Obama is doing on gun policy, with 46% approving and 49% disapproving, but only 6% said it was the most important issue facing the nation. The new poll was conducted Monday and Tuesday, prior to Wednesday's announcement by the president on new measures and proposals to curb gun violence.

Obama came into office four years ago with high expectations, and initially met them during his "honeymoon" period. In February, 2009, CNN polling indicated that three-quarters said that the new president was meeting or exceeding their expectations; only a quarter said he had fallen short. By the end of 2009, that was essentially a 50/50 split, and in 2010 and 2011, roughly six in ten said that Obama was falling short of their expectations.

Now, on the cusp of his second term, those figures are better for Obama - the number who say he has fallen short has dropped by 14 points since 2011, but nearly half still say he has not measured up to their initial hopes for his presidency. Four in ten say he has met expectations and 13% say he has exceeded them, for a total of 53% who give a positive rating to Obama's first term.

"The crosstabs show that the coalition which helped Obama win a second term is still behind him," Holland notes. "The number of people who say that he has met or exceeded their expectations is highest among women, younger Americans, and minority groups. Regionally, he gets his best marks in the Northeast."

The poll was conducted for CNN by ORC International on Jan. 14-15, with 814 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

– CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report


Filed under: CNN poll • President Obama
soundoff (46 Responses)
  1. kiwisepp

    If Obama is white, he would have accomplished much more for the well being of American people. Those white male and some female American and GOP congress just do not like him because of his skin color

    January 18, 2013 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  2. DJ

    Obama may be thought of by his followers as being "all that" he often speaks eloquently with a gifted silver tounge but, in reality is just like his master Satan,the "father of all lies..."

    January 18, 2013 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  3. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    This must be the piece du jour for Fight Fridays at CNN, typified by a "poltical" story that inevitably whips the "rabble" up into a frenzy affording the moderators a chance to go to the vending machines and get some popcorn so they can sit back for a few hours and "watch" us tear each other into shreds.
    Yawn...
    .

    January 18, 2013 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  4. bapfau

    If I could take my vote for him back, I would in a heartbeat!

    January 18, 2013 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  5. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    ...Or maybe it is the Christie story. Hard to tell.

    January 18, 2013 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  6. empresstrudy

    He's average. No more or less.

    January 18, 2013 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  7. Borderless

    klwlsepp thinks people dislike Obama because of his skin color and DK thinks Obama is the son of Satan. There is a flavor of crazy for every taste, isn't there?

    January 18, 2013 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  8. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Obama may be thought of by his followers as being "all that" he often speaks eloquently with a gifted silver tounge but, in reality is just like his master Satan,the "father of all lies..."
    -------------------------------------------------
    Okay, now does that mean that he is no longer the Messiah?
    Bwahahahahahahahaha!!!!

    January 18, 2013 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  9. Lynda/Minnesota

    Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Yawn...
    ----------

    My sentiments exactly.

    January 18, 2013 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  10. Jack Novak

    obama, the joke-in-chief!! THE GREATEST weapon of mass distraction!!

    January 18, 2013 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  11. Adak95

    Transparency? Benghazi, Fast and Furious, the delay in the arrest of Luis Abrahan Sanchez Zavaleta, Muslin Brotherhood, Obama no longer promises to "heal the Earth and stop the rise of the oceans." Obama administration delayed the resignation of General Petraeus until after the election to avoid embarrassment. Medicare cuts delayed until after the election. I guess you need more.

    January 18, 2013 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  12. kate

    I would say that if anyone is going to label someone the "father of all lies" one had better look to Bush who lied about "weapons of mass destruction" in Iraq, thus starting a war that was not needed and many many American soldiers died because of that lie. Given the mess that Bush left to Obama, I would say he has done very well and I rate him as a very good president. I am an ex republican and will never be a republican again, I can no longer support this republican party that stands in the way of progress.

    January 18, 2013 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  13. greg

    @Dominican mama 4 Obama I couldn't agree more. Though I respect the challenges Obama is facing I do not wish to participate in another Left Vs Right royal rumble.

    January 18, 2013 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  14. jerome

    "More than half of all Americans say that President Obama has met or exceeded their expectations of how he would handle his job, but according to a new national survey, that represents a steep drop-off compared to the start of his first term."

    I expected him to screw up the country I love and damned if he didn't deliver.

    January 18, 2013 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  15. Lynda/Minnesota

    "If I could take my vote for him back, I would in a heartbeat!"

    Well, there you go ... a day late and a dollar short, yes? I'm curious though. Which election vote are you wishing to take back. The 2008 or the 2012 vote?

    January 18, 2013 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  16. w l jones

    Well well he did the same as our first president in 1781 save our country as the do nothing... ran from their responabilty. Bless.

    January 18, 2013 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  17. Kate

    kate your liberal mind has been misinformed. as a former spec ops who worked in middle east.. saddam had long history of lying and he is the one who played the chess games of pretending to still have WMD, especially since we sold it to him in the early days and clinton bombed a factory in sudan where saddam inner circle met to build/buy more.

    so get your facts straight please

    January 18, 2013 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  18. Name lynn

    Obama is obama an hes being a good job in what he does, what about all them white president before obama is that all that.The white president before obama got in the white house they didnt do nothing, but made the rich richer an the poor poorer. An them white president stuck together with all the white house leaders.

    January 18, 2013 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  19. Katy

    Yes he is all that! I love President Obama.

    January 18, 2013 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  20. Grace

    First of all, President Obama never said he's "All that". That's what the writer said to catch attention for his article. Its called journalism.

    Congratulations to President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and their brave wives. God bless America and our prayers for all our leaders.

    Thanks

    January 18, 2013 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  21. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    @ greg and Lynda Minnesota:
    "Royal Rumble". We must remember that phrase as I'm sure we'll get a chance to use it next Friday.
    A safe and happy weekend to you both, indeed, to everyone.

    January 18, 2013 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
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