June 17th, 2013
06:00 AM ET
2 years ago

CNN Poll: Obama approval falls amid controversies

Washington (CNN) – President Barack Obama's approval rating dropped eight percentage points over the past month, to 45%, the president's lowest rating in more than a year and a half, according to a new national poll.

The CNN/ORC International survey released Monday morning comes as the White House has been reacting to controversies over a massive U.S. government surveillance program; the Internal Revenue Service's targeting of tea party and other conservative groups who applied for tax-exempt status; the administration's handling of last September's attack in Benghazi that left the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans dead; and the Justice Department's secret collection of journalists' phone records as part of a government investigation into classified leaks.

The poll indicates that for the first time in Obama’s presidency, half of the public says they don't believe he is honest and trustworthy. And Americans are split on the controversial National Security Agency anti-terrorism program to record metadata on U.S. phone calls, but they support the NSA program that targets records of Internet usage by people in other countries. That doesn't mean they necessarily like what is going on: Just over six in 10 believe that government is so large and powerful that it threatens the rights and freedoms of ordinary Americans.

A slight majority of those questioned in the poll, which was conducted Tuesday through Thursday of last week, disapprove of the actions of the man who leaked sensitive information about the NSA program. A similar number say Edward Snowden, who fled to Hong Kong, should be brought back to the United States and prosecuted.

What the approval drop means for Obama

The president's approval rating stands at 45%, down from 53% in mid-May. And 54% say they disapprove of how Obama's handling his job, up nine points from last month. It's the first time in CNN polling since November 2011 that a majority of Americans have had a negative view of the president.

"The drop in Obama's support is fueled by a dramatic 17-point decline over the past month among people under 30, who, along with black Americans, had been the most loyal part of the Obama coalition," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

The president also dropped 10 points among independent voters, from 47% last month to 37% now, with Obama's disapproval among independents jumping 12 points to 61%.

What's behind the drop?

"It is clear that revelations about NSA surveillance programs have damaged Obama's standing with the public, although older controversies like the IRS matter may have begun to take their toll as well," adds Holland.

Details on NSA-thwarted plots coming, lawmaker says

Six in 10 disapprove of how Obama is handling government surveillance of U.S. citizens, which is higher than the 52% who disapproved of George W. Bush on the same issue in 2006, when government surveillance was also in the headlines.

Obama's approval rating on terrorism, although still above 50%, has taken a 13-point hit since mid-May. By contrast, his approval rating on domestic issues such as the economy, immigration and the deficit only dropped by two to four points, within the poll's sampling error.

Views of Obama's personal characteristics have also declined.

The number of Americans who think he is honest has dropped nine points over the past month, to 49%. Fifty-seven percent of those questioned say they disagree with the president's views on the size and power of the federal government, and 53% say he cannot manage the government effectively. Fifty-two percent say the president is a strong and decisive leader. That's still a majority, but it's down six points from last month.

Cheney defends NSA, calls Obama's credibility 'nonexistent'

Forty-three percent of the public says that the Obama administration has gone too far in restricting civil liberties to fight terrorism, with 38% saying the administration has been about right and 17% saying it has not gone far enough.

"That's roughly the same reaction that the public had to the Bush administration in 2006 when the details of a similar program to gather phone records were made public," says Holland.

Fifty-one percent say the current NSA program to gather phone records is the right thing to do. By comparison, 54% felt that way about the Bush-era program back in 2006. Two thirds say they feel that the current NSA program on Internet usage is right.

More than six in 10 say the government has collected their phone or Internet data. What is the government doing with all of this information?

Just 8% of all Americans think the government has collected their personal data and is using it to investigate them. Just over half say they think the government has collected their data and stored it somewhere without analyzing it, and one third say they believe that government has not collected and stored any of their personal phone or Internet records.

WH: Obama not violating privacy; Snowden's whereabouts unknown

As for Snowden, 52% disapprove of his actions, with 44% saying they approve of the leaks by the former government contractor. Fifty-four percent say the government should attempt to bring Snowden back to the U.S. and prosecute him for his actions.

Documents Snowden provided to journalists revealed the existence of the secret NSA programs to collect records of domestic telephone calls in the United States and the Internet activity of overseas residents. Snowden, who fled to Hong Kong, was fired from his position at the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton earlier this month. The FBI is investigating the leaks.

The poll was conducted for CNN by ORC International June 11 to 13, with 1,014 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

- CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.

soundoff (1,117 Responses)
  1. MacLorry

    Wow, another 8% have stopped drinking the Kool-Aid.

    June 17, 2013 06:03 am at 6:03 am |
  2. Lizard Lance

    Obama's numbers shouldn't be as high as 45. They should be at ZERO! He and George W. Bush have trampled all over our Constitution. I dare say 9-11 worked to their advantagve in that it provided them the perfect opportunity to say they are trying to control us for the sake of our security. What hogwash.

    June 17, 2013 06:04 am at 6:04 am |
  3. Brian

    Nice to see the sheeple FINALLY wake the heck up!

    June 17, 2013 06:05 am at 6:05 am |
  4. Howdy2yall

    ... and this poll was taken in the Southside of Chicago, too.

    June 17, 2013 06:07 am at 6:07 am |
  5. Donna

    I'm REALLY surprised CNN is even reporting this fact.

    June 17, 2013 06:07 am at 6:07 am |
  6. Richard Long

    Hope the Obama's are enjoying their multimillion European vacation!
    17 trillion in debt is a fantastic way to keep the economic state of the US!

    June 17, 2013 06:09 am at 6:09 am |
  7. Lou50

    Gee why did it take so long? Or did the sheeples just die off that liked him trying to operate machinery over the last few years!

    June 17, 2013 06:09 am at 6:09 am |
  8. Joe Blow

    What a shocker.

    June 17, 2013 06:10 am at 6:10 am |
  9. AaronT3

    I have not lost any confidence in President Obama, but Congress is truly wasted space!!

    June 17, 2013 06:10 am at 6:10 am |
  10. marc

    It's no doubt the universal surveillance of all Americans that is turning off young Americans. They would have been okay with the IRS abuses, because that targeted the tea party, and they would have been okay with the AP surveillance, because who reads the news anyway, and they would have been fine with going after Fox reporter Rosen, because, you know, Faux News, and Benghazi is really far away, and I mean, you shouldn't make insensitive videos about Islam, just Christianity. But when you spy on their facebooks and their text messages, now they're mad.

    June 17, 2013 06:10 am at 6:10 am |
  11. Cheeky

    Well...yeah...who would trust him now. The people don't want to have their 4th amendment infringed by the NSA. People don't want to have ANYTHING to do with Syria. But...KING Obama doesn't care what the people want.

    June 17, 2013 06:12 am at 6:12 am |
  12. Flex

    When many raised concern about Obama and his credentials before his first and second time election, they were called racists, biased partisans, and many other names by the opposition. These latest actions and many others should open the eyes of those who have been sleeping under a rock, refusing to open their eyes and see the light, but here it is folks, you get back what you put in.....and that is "bad news".

    June 17, 2013 06:13 am at 6:13 am |
  13. Walter

    But those laughable libs keep spinning that one disaster after another for Obama are much ado about nothing. No wonder the libs are laughable.

    June 17, 2013 06:14 am at 6:14 am |
  14. chrisrobnorcott

    Too little and too late, this man is leading the country for the next four years.

    June 17, 2013 06:14 am at 6:14 am |
  15. chrisrobnorcott

    Too little and too late, this man will be in charge for the next three and a half years and what a shame that is.

    June 17, 2013 06:16 am at 6:16 am |
  16. Belseth

    I'm an Obama supporter but his shift to the right, ironically is where he's having the problem. He's become pro spying and soft on Liberal topics. The conservatives still don't like him, guess race trumps policy, and the Liberals are loosing faith. If Obama wants support he has to commit and stop trying to play to the middle by leaning right wing. Come down hard on domestic spying on honest citizens and close gitmo. For "the most Liberal President ever" it would seem little to ask. Looking at his policies, he acts like a Republican which is odd considering we elected a Democrat!

    June 17, 2013 06:16 am at 6:16 am |
  17. Larry Brooks

    Rational thinkers understand the president can't be transparent on every issue. And like presidents before him. It's for our own good.

    June 17, 2013 06:16 am at 6:16 am |
  18. Bill S.

    Without Nancy Pelosy, Obamacare wouldn't have even gotten done. Without that, what else has he accomplished? The rest of the Federal government, even NASA, is in neutral. Zero vision. Can't even approve an oil pipeline to keep most Canadian oil from going to communist China. Now the Utah Data Center is being built. For what? To prevent foreigners with box cutters from getting our own airplanes? You need to spend billions and billions for that, and yet miss 2 Russians with pressure cookers that the Russians told us were trouble?

    June 17, 2013 06:18 am at 6:18 am |
  19. AnnonUSA

    8 points? It should have fallen 25 Points.

    June 17, 2013 06:18 am at 6:18 am |
  20. sparky

    See, this is the real reason why the program was kept secret. It's unpopular, they know it, and they have no intention of stopping it.

    June 17, 2013 06:19 am at 6:19 am |
  21. philip

    He had very weak first term. His second is likely to do great harm to the liberal cause. That is just the way it works.

    June 17, 2013 06:20 am at 6:20 am |
  22. independant jim

    it just proves that Obama is still more popular than the Congress..

    June 17, 2013 06:20 am at 6:20 am |
  23. Julie

    I am really upset/disgusted with the First Family's upcoming trip to Africa. The estimated cost is astounding and totally inappropriate given the financial climate in this country. They should take this "VACATION" when he is out of office.

    June 17, 2013 06:21 am at 6:21 am |
  24. Reality

    Isnt it time for him to go on another multimillion dollar vacation?

    June 17, 2013 06:21 am at 6:21 am |
  25. archer

    It's a shame that the majority of American people distrust our President. It was President Bush who put us in these awkward, perhaps illegal positions. President Obama is not responsible for any of this. Just ask him and Jay Carney.

    June 17, 2013 06:22 am at 6:22 am |
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