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. Norm

    You mean there were "thinking" adults out there that actually thought ANYONE in our government was honest and trustworthy?
    That's amazing...

    June 17, 2013 08:08 am at 8:08 am |
  2. Grey

    Is his approval falling, or did the press move their polls out of the inner cities and hollywood?

    June 17, 2013 08:08 am at 8:08 am |
  3. Tony T

    Transparency.......what ever happened to that Mr. Obama.

    June 17, 2013 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
  4. William

    I guess the polls don't really matter anymore since the President won his second election. I do feel a little vindicate after having been accused of being a racist for the past five years for voting against him.Honestly, it is nothing personal against the President, he is a good family man and he believes in his vision for America. I just happen to have a different vision with a smaller government to prevent abuses like has been occurring under his leadership.

    June 17, 2013 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
  5. tom l.

    Look at the independents. Wow. 61-37 against. When you take out the hardcore right which will be against him no matter what and the hardcore left (people like Sniffit and Domican Mama) who will support him no matter what, you can truly see how bad this poll is for the president.

    But I'm sure it's the TEA Party's fault, right Sniffit and Dominican?

    June 17, 2013 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  6. Dr. Reality

    IIf Americans can't pick up a remote control and "change the channel" they get bored and disapproving. This is a sad statement of how focused our country has become on instant gratification (and their inability to develop and execute critical thinking skills).

    June 17, 2013 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  7. liz

    I not very happy with the President right now but the fact is he is still better than any Teapublican/GOP politician out there.

    June 17, 2013 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
  8. Maypo

    I am surprised he has dropped below 47% since his core base of "ascending minorities" would support Rufus even if he dropped a nuclear bomb on Detroit....

    June 17, 2013 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
  9. Al

    He should fear not, for the type of people that voted for him will quickly forget of just how much of a liar this guy is, and how he's put people in place that are paid to lie for him. In no time at all that PR firm will be working to not only make the pain of Obama care feel better for those that pay but they will also work on making the people believe that Obama is great. And they will do it with a smile on their faces as they take a nice fat check that tax payers will have to pay. What a great guy spending what's not his, but protecting his own money, to bad he does not care as much for the tax payers money, he could have half the debt had he cared as much, but everything is 10 years down the road that way he does not have to balance squat.

    June 17, 2013 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
  10. IvotedforObama

    It is his own fault. He sat back and let the racist GOP come at him and come at him instead of attacking back and showing them for what they are a bunch of racist hypocrites.

    June 17, 2013 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
  11. KellyF

    This just goes to show you the ignorance of the public in general. The vast majority of this all goes back to the Patriots Act. That name makes about as much sense as "Right to Work" lol

    June 17, 2013 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
  12. nomad2003

    About time, Mr. Obama (I still respect the office) has been artful in word selection but for every speech where he says one thing one can find another that contradicts. The Office of the Presidency requires integrity for the US to trust the president and for other countries to trust the president. The current president does not. Everything is for the next election, not for the good of people.

    June 17, 2013 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
  13. Brenda

    Maybe people are also finally waking up to the fact that the economy is NOT good and the President and Congress don't know the first thing about fixing it. There are people out here HURTING that can't find jobs and have fell off the unemployment "payroll" and the jobs they do find pay 30-40% less than what they were making before. And the rest of us that would like to find a better job stay stuck in one the hate because there is virtually nothing better out there.

    June 17, 2013 08:13 am at 8:13 am |
  14. It's Me

    Finally people are starting to wake up to the reality of this administration of misfits.

    June 17, 2013 08:13 am at 8:13 am |
  15. oakapotion27

    I was disapproving of Obama before it was the popular thing to do.

    June 17, 2013 08:13 am at 8:13 am |
  16. upyourz

    So it took 5 years for people to realize this guy is a bum? Pathetic america..... alittle to late now. You made your bed, now its its time to lay in it. The losers who voted for this pig can choke on his policies

    June 17, 2013 08:14 am at 8:14 am |
  17. Lauradet

    Obama will fix it, but the Republicans will work even harder to break it.

    June 17, 2013 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  18. Torgy

    Man, how much this must hurt to type for the whitehouse controlled media.

    June 17, 2013 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  19. Seriously...

    We are a nation of simpletons..proof? Bush's approval rating is now OVER 50%.. he spent 2 trillion dollars on Iraq and almost sunk the the global economy...9/11? He had the info in August... still people who spend 4 hours a day watching reality TV have forgotten all that... How about this...Congress has an approval rtaing of 10% but incumbents wil win 90% of the next midterm election...yes, we are simpletons.....the IRS? it was being run by a Bush appointee, The NSA? Cheney's domain...Syria? Do we REALLY want to be there...boots on the ground in the Midddle East..AGAIN? Think People, it's patriotic ...

    June 17, 2013 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  20. blahblah

    Girl you know it's gone, gone, gone, woh-woh-oh

    June 17, 2013 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  21. ally buster

    Obama's ratings will be right were they were in a month or two. "Ben Ghazi? Wasn't he on Survivor a few years ago...?" Mark my words.

    June 17, 2013 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  22. rebecca

    I dont believe this for 1 minute! I trust and believe in him 100%

    June 17, 2013 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  23. Mike Texoma

    Just like most of these opinion polls, they are always on the move. The Bengazi scandal has worn itself out. The Newspaper scandal never was a scandal. The government telephone surveillance scandal is post 9/11 and absolutely non-partisan, but needs to be aired out. And the IRS scandal is well on the way to wearing itself out, but bears additional systemic safeguards. These things are a part of governance, no matter who's in charge – and in a democracy with access to information and a free press they become "scandals". Not a bad thing, but this, too, shall pass.

    June 17, 2013 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
  24. slc

    As long as the man approaches his administration and form of government as more of socialist where he is paying for the support of his constituency, his ratings will still remain somewhat high. 45% approval is pretty darn good for a president who has been as dishonest, corrupt, and untrustworthy as he is. This man has no business being president, he never did, but his true colours are beginning to show.

    June 17, 2013 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
  25. Tom

    people just know that now? I always thought that american people are smart.

    June 17, 2013 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
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