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. DR

    President Obama has been a total failure in all fronts. Everyone can attempt to blame the opposition, but the truth of the matter is that it takes a leader to bring people together and Mr Obama has been incapable of getting away from his liberal agenda which is ever present in his office. He has been on the wrong side of every issue and we are being laughed at around the world. History will tell, but I am afraid we are experiencing a presidency that will be considered worse that Carter's. I never thought that could happen!

    April 8, 2013 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  2. liberals are just mouths with no teeth.

    I really think that you fruitcakes honestly believe you are safe. Just remember nowhere to run nowhere to hide.

    April 8, 2013 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  3. Jer

    One of the 49% right here... Not impressed. and especially with the fact that Joe Biden is calling for a new world order openly. All the these politicians (R) or (D) are working their own agenda. None of them give a crap about us or America.

    April 8, 2013 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  4. Truth

    ...of course it helps when you only poll states like New York, California, Michigan, Rhode Island, etc.....

    April 8, 2013 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  5. bosfaninva

    I see the rightwingnut rabble is out in force today.

    Simple math is juuuuuuuust beyond these people.

    April 8, 2013 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  6. RickV

    Convoluted survey. Apparently, he is at 51% approval if you subtract everything that he wants to do.

    April 8, 2013 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  7. Mark

    For the record, in the second term, President Obama's poll numbers were higher than President George Bush. Get real dummys.

    April 8, 2013 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  8. Deb

    This is breaking news. LOL

    April 8, 2013 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  9. Vikki G

    They must have asked everyone coming out of the food stamp office. Give me a break.

    April 8, 2013 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  10. bosfaninva

    The rightwing rabble is still coming to grips with the fact that the majority of Americans hates them.

    April 8, 2013 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  11. McRCN

    Gallup has had Obama's approval rating at 48% for the last couple of months and this is based on weekly tracking. Just Google Gallup Presidential Approval Ratings Barack Obama to see for yourself.

    April 8, 2013 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  12. Sniffit

    "N. Korea on a rampage and the US hasn't even entered that discussion",

    Oh really? Getting China, North Korea's only real friend, to sign off on the strictest sanctions yet is a failure to enter the discussion? Military drills with South Korea and sending missile protection systems to South Korea is not entering the discussion? Face it: you guys will just invent whatever you need to invent in your heads to justify whatever claim you're predisposed to make about Obama.

    Here's a big fat hint: NK Is not throwing a hissy fit because Obama didn't do enough....NK is throwing a hissy fit because of just how much Obama did.

    April 8, 2013 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  13. foxblows

    Funny, a bi partisan group of Americans don't like his theft of Social Security and doing the bidding of Paul Ryan. They don't like his lack of holding the Banksters accountable either. Is that what people voted for in November or is the good ol USA a ttwo party dictatorship?

    April 8, 2013 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  14. Donna

    Come on people, we need to admit reality. Obama and the Democrats lied to and conned the American people in two election cycles now. They used bribes to get gay and hispanic votes. They did everything they could to distract from their record of failure.

    And now finally after 4.5 years the American people, even some his supporters, are starting to admit the obvious. They got snookered or were too dumb to know the facts. It is why Obama held just about every campaign event on a college or high school campus. And all these young college kids have no jobs thanks to Obama, while he destroys their future with mountains of debt. Obama was the LAST guy they should have voted for, but what the heck, he's cool and hangs around with movie stars and Tiger Woods.

    April 8, 2013 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  15. Lynda/Minnesota

    Oh, dear. Mr. Obama is at 51% approval.

    Queue the right wing outrage.
    Queue the right wing hate machine.

    If nothing else, the right wing comments are all too predictable.

    April 8, 2013 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  16. Gary

    LOL – Poll numbers mean nothing. When a poll actually is based on more than a couple thousand people let me know.

    April 8, 2013 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  17. Sniffit

    ""The gain among people under 35 years old was a whopping 15 points"

    Enter Teatrolls, stage right, proposing more restrictions on college voting and registration drives....

    April 8, 2013 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  18. beevee

    This survey is worthless iwthout facts on the number of each gendereresponded to the survey. I think the president is doing fine in all areas and much better than the previous republican president who got two terms for accomplishing nothing. This president is smart , genuine and selfless and wants to take the country to the one that others look up to.

    April 8, 2013 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  19. foxblows

    Funny , maybe its the fact Obama likes Republicans and wants to steal social security from the middle class? Or maybe his llack of Bankster prosecution? Or his continuation of the Bush Tax Cuts? Maybe he and Paul Ryan are the same person and tthe USA is a two party dictatorship?

    April 8, 2013 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  20. DirtyHeat

    51% approve of the job he is doing yet most people disagree with his handling of the major political issues.

    Just goes to show you how low our expectations of the president have fallen.

    April 8, 2013 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  21. Jim

    Agree with most on here which is unusual for a CNN board that is generally loaded with liberals. 51% seems high but with all the cell phones he gave out, maybe he is getting more support from his welfare babies. Don't know many people who work for a paycheck who think he is doing a good job.

    April 8, 2013 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  22. Orville

    It's breaking news that a poll put out by a biased news organization to begin with, has the country favoring the president's job performance by 1 percentage point? Oh, but the headline then added how he lacks support with his gun control, immigration policies etc. So that now makes it a Legitimate poll!

    April 8, 2013 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  23. Zondar

    If a new law is really needed, that law should be just as popular 3 months or 3 years later. It seems that the more people learn about what's under the covers on some of these proposals (and existing laws), the less they like what they see.

    Honestly I'm shocked that CNN posted this.

    April 8, 2013 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  24. Bill Jones

    The Limbaugh Theorem at work: "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". People will say they have a favorable opinion of him, but when asked about specifics like the economy, immigration, etc, they disagree with the way the country is going. People STILL don't associate all the bad things happening with him for some reason. I guess I should just shut up and realize being a good guy is the most important trait of being Prez. Forget the fact that just today my company announced we have to drop our health insurance plan bc they can't afford it and go to a lesser one (YES, this really happened), all that matters is he seems like a cool guy..

    April 8, 2013 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  25. Joe M2.

    Just wait for the foreign policy rating is weighted in. Does he even know where Korea is?

    April 8, 2013 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
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