CNN Poll: Obama at 51% approval but lower on key issues
April 8th, 2013
04:00 PM ET
1 year ago

CNN Poll: Obama at 51% approval but lower on key issues

Washington (CNN) – As President Barack Obama begins what could be a pivotal week, with gun control, immigration reform and border security, and the budget all in the spotlight, a new national survey indicates the president's approval rating has inched above the 50% mark.

But according to a CNN/ORC International poll released Monday, the president's approval numbers on those three crucial issues remain below 50%.

Fifty-one percent of people questioned in the survey say they approve of how Obama is handling his duties as president, with 47% saying they disapprove. The president's approval rating is up four points from last month, but below his 55% high this year, recorded in mid-January just before his second inauguration.

"Throughout his first term, President Obama's ratings were typically boosted by positive views of him as a person rather than his policies, and that dynamic seems to be still in force in his second term," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "The change in Obama's approval rating comes among two key elements of his winning electorate coalition - women and younger Americans - suggesting that those old patterns are still in place."

The survey's release comes as the president travels to Connecticut, the state that was the scene of last December's horrific shooting at an elementary school that left 20 young students and six adults dead, as part of his push for Congress to act on legislation to reduce gun violence. According to the poll, 45% of Americans approve of how Obama's handling gun policy, with 52% saying they disapprove. In January, his approval/disapproval on the issue stood at 46%-49%.

On another contentious issue, immigration reform, a couple of members of the Senate's so-called "Gang of Eight" bipartisan members working towards a compromise bill say they may reach agreement as early as later this week. The president is encouraging Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform this year. Forty-four percent of Americans say they approve of how Obama's handling the issue, with half saying they disapprove.

Wednesday the White House releases its budget for the next fiscal year, which according to senior administration officials will include proposed changes to Social Security and Medicare plus some new tax increases in an effort for the president to reach a deal with Republicans on reducing the nation's massive budget deficit. Even in advance of its release, the budget has drawn criticism from both Republicans and from liberal groups upset over the proposed cuts Social Security and Medicare.

According to the poll, just 38% say they approve of how Obama's handling the federal deficit, with nearly six in ten saying they disapprove, the president's lowest score out of nine issues tested. His only net-positives are foreign affairs and policies toward gays and lesbians.

The survey indicates that male views of Obama have not changed at all since March, but the president's approval rating jumped seven points among women.

"The gain among people under 35 years old was a whopping 15 points, compared to no change at all in the middle age brackets and a seven-point drop among senior citizens, possibly fueled by concerns over Obama's proposed changes to Social Security," adds Holland. "Obama has also gained among moderates, while his high support among liberals and his low support among conservatives has remained unchanged.

So where does the president stand compared to his two-term predecessors.

Historically, Obama's 51% approval rating is par for the course among second-term presidents. Four months after their second inaugurals, George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, and Richard Nixon all had approval ratings within a couple of points of Obama's current mark. Only Bill Clinton, with a 54% approval rating in April, 1997, had better numbers than Obama does today.

The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International, from April 5-7, with 1,012 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

soundoff (130 Responses)
  1. tykl

    @ Donna – agreed. The best thing they can say about O is he likes gays and lesbians (as do I) and that they still think he is good at foreign affairs (all evidence points otherwise – N. Korea on a rampage and the US hasn't even entered that discussion, Syrian civilians continue to be slaughtered for 2 years with O saying he'll look into it, nothing accomplished with Israel/Palestine although the Leftists will say he cured it with a teleprompter speech, China still cleaning our clock in trade practices, O with his drone kill list he boasts he personally updates every Thursday, etc, etc, etc). When the populous was polled about what the most important issues were during the election, these weren't in the discussion. O and Axelrod's smoke and mirror show convinced 51% of the voting public that O's love of gays and lesbians (which was a new discovery 3 months before the election – read pander) and perceived FA success was more important than what they really thought was important. The snake oil and magic water salesmen strike again.

    April 8, 2013 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  2. Mchael McDonald

    So women and kids believe being a nice guy makes a good leader? I can understand the kids. They don't know any better. But I don't believe women think that. They like him because he pushes abortion. He was okay with post birth abortion while in the Illinois senate. If women think that is THE most important issue we face as a country we are in deep trouble. I really don't understand it though. The law says you can legally have an abortion. Does anyone really think that will change because a conservative is elected president? Bush had both houses of Congress for awhile and didn't try that. That cat was let out of the bag decades ago. And we are approaching 60 million abortions since. I just can't believe there were 60 million medically troublesome pregnancies in that time. It's time to face the fact that abortion is simply a means of birth control.

    April 8, 2013 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  3. Mike

    Majority of America disapproves of Obama's job as president, why is that newsworthy? Shocked your poster boy isn't that popular anymore,CNN?

    April 8, 2013 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  4. Curtis

    Maybe the low approval for gun control and immigration reform is because the majority of Americans don't want them.

    April 8, 2013 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  5. t3chn0ph0b3

    Congrats to Obama for having three times the approval rating of Congress.

    April 8, 2013 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  6. johnjon33

    Donna................. you don't get it, you just don't get it. republicans usually don't get anything.

    April 8, 2013 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  7. Sniffit

    @ Donna

    LOL at you not recognizing that disapproval includes those who want him to push harder for more liberal policy positions on those issues.

    As for the deficit in particular, CNN, I'd like to see some data on how much that correlates with (a) people not understanding what Obama HAS done about the deficit and (b) the MSM's consistent and deliberate refusal to report about what exactly Obama has done about the deficit. Hint: it's gone down. ALOT. How much you wanna bet that the majority of people think it went up?

    April 8, 2013 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  8. MichaelVA

    Obama's campaign slogan in 2012 could have been, "Obama/Biden... good enough."

    April 8, 2013 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  9. Bob

    Oh it was a CNN poll not a real poll. That is why his numbers are so sigh.

    April 8, 2013 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  10. Iamrightyouarewrong

    The only people obamas in touch with dont read the real news.

    April 8, 2013 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  11. Pepou27

    I don't care if he is a nice guy. He should NOT compromise or capitulate on social security and medicare ! He is no Roosevelt we all know that but at least he should NOT destroy what Roosevelt did.

    April 8, 2013 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  12. DC Johnny

    So essentially 51% of Americans support Obama, but with no real rationale to back that up when asked about it.

    Sounds about right.

    April 8, 2013 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  13. Codestud3

    So they love him but they hate him on all the important key issues. Pretty pathetic.

    April 8, 2013 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  14. jerpell

    I like the way CNN spun this story.....Gosh the left wing rag media is ugly!

    April 8, 2013 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  15. andrewjellison

    Obama just offered Republicans everything they want in a budget, big cuts in Medicare and Social Security, and they still rejected it. Just goes to show Republicans will continue to hold the country hostage for their own selfish reasons.

    April 8, 2013 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  16. ty

    nobody ever asked me what i thought....dudes a tool.

    April 8, 2013 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  17. max3333444555

    I doubt the pontification about how Obama has 25% that think he needs to be tougher on gun control and 25% think he needs to back off. sounds like a nice dream to those pushing for gun control.

    governor of ny passed strict gun control law and his approval went from 70% to 50% almost overnight. this isn't an issue where democrats are taking a hit for not being tough enough – its the other way around. a whole lot of folks see gun control legislation (at least as proposed) as a bad idea

    April 8, 2013 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  18. SMc

    We know 47% aren't going to approve of anything he does. Myself, being a strong gun control advocate, also disapproves of his handling gun policy. But, maybe not for the reasons you think. I don't think he's done enough. Then again, there's only so much power he has with a republican opposition that's hell-bent on blocking any progress in this country.

    April 8, 2013 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  19. Peach

    HOW is it possible that this horrible excuse for a President has any favorable approval ratings AT ALL. I don't understand this country..............

    April 8, 2013 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  20. Darren

    Of course CNN highlights the negative in any poll where President Obama is above 50%.

    April 8, 2013 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  21. K_434

    Well I smdh at those who elected him. Didn't take rocket science to figure out another 4 years with him in office was the worst thing that could have happened to this country.

    April 8, 2013 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  22. Dale

    11 + million Each one of them have Mothers and Fathers , Brothers and Sisters and Grandparents, other Relatives and Friends.
    More illegals will have opportunity to "Live With" their Shadow Amnesty U.S. Relative,
    (( doing it illegally ))" waiting in the shadows ", going Boo-Hoo what about me, I want amnesty to.
    Where will this stop ?
    Meanwhile these illegals will have their " U.S. Citizen Relatives game the system for them ", it will start with U.S. anchor babies qualifying them, "" this is how this whole thing got started anchor babies"" growing up in the United States becoming Lawyers and Politicians on U.S. tax dollars , it is not who you are, it is who you know with " Power and Influence ".
    illegals wagging something in front of them, something they desperately want, if you catch my drift.
    A clue starts with a D.

    April 8, 2013 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  23. Tommy G

    Does anybody happen to have Jimmy Carter's numbers hanging around? Hard to imagine them being any worse than this.

    But it is downright SCARY that 51% of the American people approve of this complete idiotic failure of a president. I guess they are afraid of being called a racist if they answered truthfully.

    April 8, 2013 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  24. Alfred E Newman

    The economy is down, jobs are down, Americans on food stamps are up, Americans out of work is down, average American's net worth is down.

    This poll shows one of two things, either 51% of Americans are stupid or CNN polls are wrong.

    April 8, 2013 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  25. Annoyed

    CNN, the results of any poll, and in particular your own polls, is never EVER "breaking news." Seriously, does "breaking" mean nothing to you guys anymore? That's just sad.

    April 8, 2013 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
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