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. Peoples State of Illinois

    "...Associated Propaganda (formerly Press)...." --also known as Obama's "ministry of truth."

    April 8, 2013 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  2. Jehan S

    So people disagree with his views on key issues but he is still popular. That can be explained mathematically but a Republican lacks the IQ to comprehend it. People disagree with him on, say one out of four issues .. but agree with him strongly enough on the other three issues. Also, some people people don't disagree with him on the same issues as other people. That's why his rating is over 50%, yet on an issue by issue basis his views are in the minority. Simple mathematics explains it (complicated for GOP members though).

    April 8, 2013 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  3. Lynda/Minnesota


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

    Well, then, James .... thank goodness for you that you have FOX (and friends) to reinforce how great it is for you and others living in that GOPerville bubble you folks can't seem to break loose from.

    April 8, 2013 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  4. Hillcrester

    Obama polls strongest among the most rapidly-growing demographics. The opposition to his approach to gun control probably includes a decent-sized chunk who wish he were more strongly FOR controls.

    April 8, 2013 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  5. DirtyHeat

    @FauxNewsCrew – You are a prime example of how liberals are not at all tolerant as they claim to be. You are nothing but a bigot and a disgrace.

    April 8, 2013 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  6. krehator

    Still better than 20%. Gee I wonder what GOP hero had that rating?

    April 8, 2013 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  7. ghostriter

    It has been suggested that democrats support Obama with no reason as to why. I posit that with the many truth checked critics against him, it is said opposition that has no real reason as to why they feel he way they do.

    For instance....all the conservatives who claimed Obama's stance on immigration was to influence voters have yet to complain that now republicans are offering a pathway to citizenship. Not a peep. Well, I take that back. I'd bet $1000 if they did a poll on conservatives that they would blame Obama on this and absolve republicans totally....even while republicans are signing off on the pathway.

    April 8, 2013 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  8. Charlie

    "Among the entire sample, 33% described themselves as Democrats, 24% described themselves as Republicans, and 43% described themselves as Independents or members of another party"

    So the poll over sampled Democrats, no wonder the results are skewed.

    April 8, 2013 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  9. Phyllis

    I voted for Obama, but he needs to tone down his immigration reform. We should require eVerify, and illegals here should have a path to legal residency but not citizenship. And how will reform prevent the need for another amnesty in 25 years?

    April 8, 2013 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  10. mogran

    What total nonsense...the anti-gun crowd really hopes we believe this nonsense...there is no poll proving what they claim!

    April 8, 2013 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  11. jag

    It would be good to see us being a "United" America instead of all this reality tv mentality. Politics have always been a hard and dirty business, but how the media treats any issue is like a cliffhanger that we are all waiting to tune into tomorrow. Not saying everything (deals) should be done behind closed doors, however, not everything needs to be commented on. We just need Congress to work out compromises that benefit the majority and helps American reestablish itself as a major power in terms of the economy and by setting the example through our bipartisian efforts.

    Get off this tic for tac antics. United we stand divided we fall. Even though this statement may fall on deaf ears we really need to get it together and stop being so snarky towards one another.

    April 8, 2013 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  12. just sayin

    just wait until 20-60 million americans start losing their employer based medical coverage thanks to obamacare. obama's numbers will plummet to 30%. they only ones supporting him will be the ones getting the free government healthcare.

    remember those famous obama words? "you'll be able to keep your current healthcare plan and doctor"??? sorry, he lied, you lose, he don't care, social justice prevails, you deserve what you get america because you were stupid enough to vote for this con artist twice.

    April 8, 2013 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  13. jerry5555

    And the Obama printing press (CNN) is placing this poll as "BREAKING NEWS".... The Media might love Obama more than any other figure in the history of America. Yet, the economey is so bad, our dept is growing 2 trillion a year under this community organizer, etc etc etc, and the media still praises him. Unbelievable....

    When will the media and everyone else in America stop supporting someone just because he's/she's a part of their political party? The most qualified, by far, was Ron Paul and the media completely snubbed him because he's not a democrat.... So sad.

    April 8, 2013 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  14. Brian H

    Jehan S:

    You apparently didn't look at the actual survey results (I did). His approval rating is below 50% on EVERY issue, except gay marriage...not just a few key issues as you wrongfully indicate. The only way that mathematically works out to a favorable overall question response is if the respondents overwhelmingly weighted either (a) gay marriage or (b) other unspecified factors (e.g..."he seems like a friendly guy") in answering that question.

    Otherwise, I stand by my "clueless populous" explanation.

    April 8, 2013 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  15. JJ

    The same 51%............

    April 8, 2013 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  16. Sniffit

    "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."

    Nobody's to blame but NK, jackhole. Your attempt to have your cake and eat it too....claiming Obama didn't do enough to stop them out of one side of your mouth and then attempting to twist what I said to blame Obama for doing things to cause pathetic. Obama did what everyone thinks was the correct thing to do , tightening the sanctions in response to NK's idiocy. NK finally feeling backed into a corner and potentially lashing out was ALWAYS where this was headed ALL ALONG. Anyone who thinks different hasn't been paying attention. And yes, if you want to try to blame it on Obama for what he has done, then you have to spread the blame to the last several presidents who've been doing the same thing. Grow up. Seriously. Your pathological need to try to blame Obama for everything and try to gain political points with it doesn't work. Get that? It. Does. Not. Work. You can crow about bad numbers for Obama all you want, but the GOP/Teatrolls are in the toilet and continue to sink fast. Obama's riding a rainbow-farting unicorn in comparison.

    April 8, 2013 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  17. gary

    Thank God we this country only have 46 more months of this man and after our hands will be washed of him forever! The harm he has done and will do to this Country will take decades to correct.

    April 8, 2013 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  18. sandy

    Lets see, saturday night went to dinner, hour and a half wait, line out the ass in a expensive restaurant. Do not go out to eat if no money...

    April 8, 2013 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  19. Sniffit

    "now republicans are offering a pathway to citizenship."

    Have no fear. They're are only pretending to do so. Not only have several of them pledged to filibuster any pathway to citizenship, but most of the rest of them are just trying to drag it all out as long as possible in hopes that an excuse will come along for killing it. It will be your usual litany of faux poutrage over a procedural point of order or some fabrication about how something or other done or said by some Dem or Obama made all the GOPers/Teatrolls have a sad and get all butthurt, such that they couldn't possibly separate their hurt feelings from voting objectively on national immigration policy. The reality is, they hope to turn the demise of immigration reform back on the Dems, just like they tried to do with the Sequester...pointing fingers and claiming the Dems are the ones who killed it "because they don't want the issue to go away." Freekin nonsense.

    Let's see: 12M new voters highly likely to vote for Dems or "issue that doesn't go away"? Hmmmmm...which benefits Dems more.....

    The GOPers/Teatrolls complain bitterly about the former and drag the latter silliness out into the light when they have no real argument left and hope to set up the MSM false equivalency narrative for a blame game after they walk away from the negotiating table.

    April 8, 2013 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  20. Sniffit

    Notice how CNN failed to link the results so we can look into and cite the fact that the disapproval comes partly from those who wish he'd fight harder for gun control measures and liberal policies.

    April 8, 2013 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  21. Gurgyl

    This president is the best. I do not give darn hoot to polls–GOP fabricated.

    April 8, 2013 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  22. Bob berbowski

    At least he gets 100% approval on his handling of the War On Drugs. Great success!

    April 8, 2013 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  23. Sniffit

    I stand corrected as I missed the link, so I should more accurately say: Notice how CNN didn't poll for the REASONS for disapproval or approval The data isn't even there. Drop in SS/Medicare approval is quite likely a result of him losing progressives who got angry with his offer to use chained CPI...and gun safety legislation has stalled as a result of the GOP's/Teatrolls' obstruction. Meh. These results don't indicate much without information as to whether approval/disapproval is because "he goes too far" or "he won't go far enough" on a given issue.

    April 8, 2013 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  24. Dean

    But all you Obama haters.....The man just gave up 5% of his salary because the country is doing so bad. You didn't really expect him to fix the problems did you? After all he didn't cause them, Bush did.

    April 8, 2013 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  25. Dean

    Moveon is even mad at him now.

    April 8, 2013 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
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