June 17th, 2013
06:00 AM ET
1 year 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. Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©™

    Cheney is wrong about Obama, but he is right about Snowden and NSA. Cheney is a professional politician, so one expects and ignores his negative remarks about a Democratic president's credibility.

    June 17, 2013 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  2. Blaine

    Hang Snowden. That would be a good start.

    June 17, 2013 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  3. bigdoglv

    All those promises about how things will be changed have caught up with the prez. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

    June 17, 2013 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  4. frank landa

    obama is a crook and has used the enforcement agencies as political bullies. There are constant reports of lavish travel parties in all of his agencies. He lied about Ben Ghazi. He did far worse than Nixon and should have been impeached already.

    June 17, 2013 08:19 am at 8:19 am |
  5. Heidi

    Not me. I love Presient Obama more than ever!!!!!!

    June 17, 2013 08:19 am at 8:19 am |
  6. Kraas

    Well when you're supposedly a liberal president but you start talking about trading freedom for security, do you really think your base is going to approve?

    June 17, 2013 08:19 am at 8:19 am |
  7. guysmiley

    I believe the poll is much higher than what is projected in the poll that approve of Snowden. He is s hero and should be applauded. There was no way out for him to do the right thing. If you don't want the beans spilled how about trying not to do something illegal and intrusive in the first place and treating average citizens like children under a microscope.

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

    And now he wants to arm the Al-Qaeda rebels in Syria. How anyone can justify this is beyond me.

    June 17, 2013 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  9. Thomas G

    It has begun...

    Will Obama save his presidency or continue to flounder between the Republicans, Libertarians, and Independents?

    June 17, 2013 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  10. Fed Up

    Its about time people are waking up!!! The only reason his approval numbers stayed that high for so long is because the administration has done a great job keeping things under wraps, with the help of the liberal media of course! But finally, the truth is coming out, the scandals are running rampant, with many more to come I am sure! This guy and his administration are CRIMINALS!!! They are not looking out for the people, only themselves and their precious power!!!

    June 17, 2013 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
  11. Jackomoo De Jackomoo

    2 terms later we still should blame W. he is the one who started it all. I am still wondering why that guy is free and not behind bars after lying about everything to the public.

    June 17, 2013 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
  12. Robert Buchanan

    Welcome to the other side guys, what took you so long?

    June 17, 2013 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  13. Jopa

    Five scandals and a stagnant economy with no jobs does not make for a lot of love

    June 17, 2013 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  14. Sue

    Well, it is certainly a huge disappointment to find him in bed with Monsanto, one of the most evil companies in the world. I no longer consider myself a supporter, altho I would NEVER vote for the guns and god party.

    June 17, 2013 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  15. nc2012

    Amazing Cheney defends NSA and says Obama has no credibility? We have so many more important things to worry about other than phone records. IRS ? Well they should investigate churches that DO NOT PAY taxes. Why should anyone be able to "claim" they are a church and then freely go about collecting money from the public without any checks & balances in place. We could probably pay off our national debt if they collected taxes on half the illegal non profits. The GOP have been trying since the beginning to slam Obama at every turn. The man has had nothing but non stop CRAP since he took office. President Obama is by far the most decent and honest man to ever grace the oval office.

    June 17, 2013 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  16. tom l.

    He has lost the independents. By a large margin.

    June 17, 2013 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  17. sherman

    When a poll is conducted using only those who still have land lines, then you create your own demographic skew which means the polling data is tainted. People who have land lines are: Families with 4 kids or more, retirement age people, single women. so it would be more correct to state that a poll taken amongst this demographic had this result.

    June 17, 2013 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  18. Archangel Raphael

    The USA is a Superorganism that requires work to maintain it's health. Slander, gossip, and popularity contests will make the GOP guilty in any Father of a Superorganism's eyes. It's health is poor and ready to collapse. News articles with this title will negatively influence the ability to heal the USA. Do you want to use the media to pull people down in a popularity contest or do you want to solve problems that will lift the USA up?

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

    maybe he can sing again at a presser, yeah maybe that will work, or a beer summit! yeah a beer summit... there has to be some way he continue to distract his way through office and deflect the heat of all the things he's supposed to be working on

    June 17, 2013 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  20. Al-NY,NY

    oh no!!! He'd might as well quit and let us go back to trickle-down economics, deregulated everything, guns for everyone, and force Christianity everywhere...you know...those failed GOP policies that everyone rejects except the sheep. And the tightie righties will now crow endlessly that this is the end. But when the polls show him doing well (which will happen), they'll deny the legitimacy of the polls

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

    Of course it has taken a hit. The GOP is looking under every rock to find any hint of something they can connect to the president. They haven't found anything yet, but they will keep trying in hopes that it is out there somewhere. This GOP is the most despicable group of human beings that have ever been in government since I have been following politics and that includes the Nixon era. Nixon and his right hand men were criminals in what they did in Watergate, this GOP is just continuing to look for something to destroy this man. So far – they have nothing, but they will continue to slither around the ground looking under rocks instead of being about the people's business.

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

    This is misleading. The approval rating of a politician is not tied to his honesty or trustworthiness. No one expects a politician to be even an average amount of honest and trustworthy. Then again, what the GOP doesn't tolerate in Democrats they have been tolerating in their own politicians for years.

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

    When our government has such massive debt, why arm rebels to assist them overthrowing theirs through violence?

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

    How many of those who disapproved of the President in this poll will now be targeted by the IRS?

    June 17, 2013 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  25. Evelyn Connaway

    What's behind the drop? Ignorance of the American citizens who listen to all the radical propaganda and out right lies by the republicans in congress, who try daily to to slander our president anyway they can. The crap about Benghazi, the IRS and the NSA and anything else the can tell tales about. The republicans aren't doing anything for our country and its citizens, but spend their time, wasting the countries time and money, trying to degrade one man. He is still the same man trying to do what he can for the majority of us. We who voted for him still stand behind him. We know what the republicans are trying to do. The republican party did for worse when they were in charge, Embassies attacked, IRS has been screwing up for years, but just now realized what political parties were up to, and the NSA, guess who put that in the works and Obama continued on and stopped some attacks. Citizens wake up and stop listening to the stupid big mouth jerks in congress.

    June 17, 2013 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
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