CNN Poll: Obama at 51% approval but lower on key issues
April 8th, 2013
04:00 PM ET
5 years 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. Sniffit

    "......And now finally after 4.5 years the American people, even some his supporters...."

    Bwahahahaha!!!! It's like watching mommy read the Teatrolls a bed time story that will help them get to sleep. Really, it's no different than the strident "convince-myself-everything's-ok opinion pieces CNN publishes for Bennett and Castellanos. You'd think with all the echoes in the chamber you GOPers/Teatrolls would actually find it hard to sleep...but I guess not. Please proceed, GOPers/Teatrolls, please proceed.

    April 8, 2013 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  2. riiiiiii

    I think he's got cajones, but disagree with him on most things. Healthcare is one of the few things i think he did an admirable job on. But he did mishandle benghazi, he is terrible with the budget, atrocious on gun control, etc. I think he'll be a president i do not remember in a favorable manner, but the healthcare accomplishments, though they could have been done better, they will stand out as a bright spot for Obama with me.

    April 8, 2013 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  3. Name

    I am glad I watched these polls on election night. I recall CNN getting the election polls correct unlike other agencies. Great job sir and like the lady on "Malcolm" said "Pay those fools no mind and keep doing what you are doing". I am praying for you always.

    April 8, 2013 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  4. Larry in Houston

    I'm not a Huge Fan of Obama – and I don't agree with everything, and every policy he's ever done -and everything else but let me say it this way – He's better than ANY other republican that was on that stage, during the republican primaries, believe me. LOL – – The best people the republicans have, isn't welcome – – – (in their own circle) ( imagine that) LOL –
    I mean – well – you know what I mean – no wonder he's at 51%

    April 8, 2013 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  5. 332 electoral votes

    That giant sucking sound you hear is republicans drawing in air through clenched teeth. I love it when they start to boil. The right wing has hung you out to dry and as long as they have the power your losing days will last forever.

    April 8, 2013 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  6. James

    Poll numbers are breaking news when you operate the propaganda ministry of the Democratic Party.

    April 8, 2013 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  7. Sniffit

    "People STILL don't associate all the bad things happening with him for some reason. "

    I can name you 538 reasons.

    April 8, 2013 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  8. riiiiiii

    disagree with him on most things. Healthcare is one of the few things i think he did an admirable job on. But he did mishandle benghazi, he is terrible with the budget, atrocious on gun control, etc. I think he'll be a president i do not remember in a favorable manner, but the healthcare accomplishments, though they could have been done better, they will stand out as a bright spot for Obama with me. He handled Iraq pretty well actually. Afghanistan, not so much, but he did authorize the hit that got bin laden, so that was a positive thing to come out of the huge spike of losses we've experienced in afghanistan.

    April 8, 2013 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  9. Robert

    Well, I think that this never-ending week after week consternation over what the "latest polls" say today is absolutely pointless nonsense! I agree with the commenters who say the typical poll sample sizes are simply not large enough to represent any reliable National opinion trends! I also feel that the results depend HEAVILY upon the particular wording of the survey questions! You can make slight changes to the wording of a particular question and get radically different results! Why should we even CARE what the polls say about Obama's popularity? He is in his second term and he SHOULD be doing whatever he truly believes is BEST for the Nation, regardless of what the polls indicate!
    Mr. President, please IGNORE this poll nonsense and continue doing your job the best you can!

    April 8, 2013 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  10. Brian H

    Something very interesting about this poll overall...

    Look at the response to question 1 (Favor/disapproval of how Obama handling job overall).

    Then look at the breakdown on how he is handling things issue by issue in question 2.

    The **only** issue he gets greater than 50% on is gay marriage.

    How, then, does his overall approval rating end up at 51%??? This just tells me that there are instinctive poll responses to an "overall" question...which responses then apparently find no support whatsoever when the same people have to go thru and break it down issue by issue.

    Such are the risks of a non-critical thinking populous.....

    April 8, 2013 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  11. FauxNewsCrew

    Wow, What a bunch of rednecks here. Go back to Faux new you damn sheep. President Obama is doing fine. Most of you retards either weren't paying attention when Bush was president and his bellow 20% approval rating or you are ignoring it because you are a bunch of hick racists who marry your cousins.

    April 8, 2013 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  12. Donna

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

    VERY easy to explain. He has the left wing controlled news media controlling his image with their endlessly positive reporting of everyhting he does. Even failures are spun into attacks on his opponents. Benghazi? What Benghazi? Don't know what you're talking about, something happen there? Now, in the latest evidence of that, you have the Associated Propaganda (formerly Press) saying they won't use the term "illegal immigrant" anymore.

    Full time, years long con job by the left wing. The closest thing this country has ever seen to brain washing.

    April 8, 2013 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  13. Mumbles Menino

    Gallup has him at 48%
    Rasmussen reports 50%

    April 8, 2013 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  14. mike

    Yes, he and Kim of North Korea are loved by their people.

    April 8, 2013 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  15. riiiiiii

    It also seems hes not very 'independent' if that makes sense. Like a lot of his decisions and supporting of endeavors are reccomended to him by others. I dont recall ever disliking a group of appointees more than the one he has chosen. So the bad: budget, appointees, very silly social policies, gun control, benghazi, just economic affects in general. The good: Got big bin L. Very risky, very brave endeavors on the healthcare front.

    April 8, 2013 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  16. NavalAviator

    Wow – shame we no longer live in a country where your accomplishments and tenacity are paramount to your popularity with Beyonce and Jay-Z. It's just funny that pretty much everything is eroding around us and 51% of Americans are too starstruck to really care. Forward.

    April 8, 2013 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  17. Name

    I am so proud of my "Commander and Chief".

    April 8, 2013 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  18. Johnson Jones

    I'm just glad that the people of America reelected Obama based on the fact that he seems like a nice guy and not based on his results. That's important. Results like unemployment and debt don't matter. Obama is a such a cool guy....Yea!!!!

    April 8, 2013 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  19. Umpire11

    I'm thankful that I have a week to go enjoy Augusta National, and leave this crap behind. This country is no longer a melting pot. It has become pure vinegar and oil, and the hatred on both sides is so frightening! Nobody considers the other's opinion – it has become an "our way or the highway" national conversation. This statement will be blasted by liberals as a "tea bagging Trollster" and from the Right as some kind of Liberal wussification. I don't if the nation is now a reflection of the horrible jobs being done in Washington, or Washington has become a microcosm of the nation. This is not the country I have grown up in for 50 years. What a sad state of affairs. Shame on you ALL!!!!

    April 8, 2013 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  20. ghostriter

    Donna, if you feel like he "bribed" hispanics, how do you feel about republicans who right after the November Knock Out, called to make immigration a priority in order to get more votes?

    my guess is you approve.

    April 8, 2013 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  21. Paul

    The Truth (should call yourself The LIE instead),
    you're still angry that the President got reelected,eh? Well, he has and he is doing fine. If it weren't for people who 'prayed' for him to fail and to make him a one-term president even if that meant hurting the economy and the country as a whole, the economy would be roaring now.

    April 8, 2013 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  22. Peoples State of Illinois

    Proof the dumbing down of America(indoctrination) is working as planned.

    April 8, 2013 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  23. Patrick in Wisconsin

    Too many stupid arguments here to address them all, so I will a few of them:

    1. Conservatives, if these poll numbers are "so out of whack, they must have polled only Democrats," how was it that these polls were most accurate on the night when your saint Romney got clobbered? I'll pull in a point from Stephen Colbert here since it fits. Fine, these polls are liberally biased, because reality is liberally biased. After all, how else are these polls consistently accurate come election time?

    2. The reason only 47% of the population pays federal income tax is not because it was reduced to that level. It's because after Bush's recession, the amount of people in that tax bracket increased by more than a half. And to say these people are freeloaders, come on. Many of these people were laid off from their higher paying jobs and had to settle on lower paying ones, while also supporting families and battling still rising inflation (as it always does).

    3. If the U.S. is so God awful right now, how is it that things continually improve? A local strip mall that I used to live by was half empty back in early 2009, now, it's full again. Back in late 2009, the DOW was below 7000 for the first time since the 90s. Now, it's more than doubled its low back in 2000 (14,613 as of today). Since late 2010, we have been in continuous job growth for more than two years now. I could go on, but I want to keep it short and sweet for y'all.

    I could go on for hours, but I have better things to do than talk to walls that take the shape of some people. Cheers.

    April 8, 2013 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  24. just sayin

    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.

    ok, so now we'll know who to blame when war breaks out. thanks for this info. i was afraid you'd try and blame it on george bush.

    April 8, 2013 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  25. Charlie

    PROOF!!! You can fool most of the people most of the time.

    April 8, 2013 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
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