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. dh

    The headline should be: AMERICA BEGINS TO WAKE UP!!!!

    June 17, 2013 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  2. are122

    Since elected America's number on problem is the economy/jobs/debt. Obama instead concentrates his efforts on gay rights and illegal aliens. When the IRS becomes involved in health care, fines and demands kick in I suspect his ratings will rival Congress.

    June 17, 2013 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  3. Chris

    Are people finally seeing past the lies? Everyone gets so enamored with the presidency that they treat the president with white gloves. It's the same story every year, doesn't matter what "side" wins. One group of mentality inept tards will follow the president without question because he's in the same parties. And of course the other side will viciously attack the other side. It's sad you people can't break from the traditional two parties.

    June 17, 2013 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  4. Ovid Goode

    These constant polls are a joke and nobody really cares if President Obama is up 10 points or down 10 points. The bottom line is he was re-elected despite hundreds of millions of dollar in smear ads and it left the right-wing conservative movement with egg on their face. He may have been concerned about polls BEFORE he was re-elected, but now, who the hell cares.

    June 17, 2013 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  5. Jules

    Issa keeps saying things like smoking gun, devastating emails, etc. etc. and there is never anything there. They try to cherry pick some words or sentences hoping it will do the trick. Unfortunately for the dog Issa, the truth comes out and there is nothing there. Who is running against this dingaling in the next election? I want to send money to that person.

    June 17, 2013 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  6. Your Voice of Reason

    Could Liberal media be playing for sympathy?

    June 17, 2013 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  7. Ant

    About time Americans started waking up. The entire system of government is flawed. Democrat and republicans all need to go. The two party system has reached it's limits and now needs to be based on individual candidates and their opinions and beliefs. Not by the letter next to their names. That's how government will start to work again

    June 17, 2013 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  8. Truck

    Wonder why it took people & none of the MSM so long to see that this socialists is ruining our country. Can't wait for Oblamycare. For the funny side of Oblamaycare click here. You will laugh yourself sick........

    June 17, 2013 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  9. Juan Madera

    Gee, 45% from a CNN poll? Even the most dimwitted know CNN is a liberal front. Obama's real approval rating is probably around 40% or less, AND IT SHOULD BE! We voted in this snake again, and now the sh!t is hitting the fan.

    June 17, 2013 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
  10. roy

    Approval rating doesn't matter Obama can't run for office again he can do what he wants enjoy it sorry voters.

    June 17, 2013 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
  11. heatherfedah

    Really??!!!! Hahahah. I knew this a few months after his 2008 election. Finally, some of the "late-bloomers" on the left are figuring it out. We could have saved Obama from re-election had we chosed Romney. Liberals need to listen to the right because we are right.

    June 17, 2013 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  12. Archangel Raphael

    Slander, Gossip, and influenceing approval ratings that make this siuation into a popularity contest, when the Superorganism known as the USA has failing health, is an unwise move GOP. Causing harm to a Superorganism to any father of a Superorganism would be upsetting at the least. You will pay your dues for the damages you have done to the USA Superorganism and the Human Species GOP; he won't let you get away.

    June 17, 2013 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  13. MJ19

    Did they ask about the do nothing blocking Congress we have? Hard for him to do his job when the other side does nothing but obstructs him. That a fact not an excuse.

    June 17, 2013 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  14. Leah

    Is this how you create 'news'? Take a poll in the middle of summer, when responses are historically at the bottom of the barrel and pretend you've got something?

    Folks...this is nothing.

    June 17, 2013 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  15. Heinrich

    As a long time Illinois resident, this is nothing new. I could have told you 5 years ago that Obama is nothing but another Illinois politician. Our last 2 governors are now in prison, and the current guv-nah is working towards it. The rest of the country is only now learning what it takes to be successful in Chicago politics.

    June 17, 2013 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  16. pcappit

    The fact that nearly half of the country still trusts this guy is the reason I have no faith in our electorate. Too many voters are just clueless and feel that it is their civic duty to go to the polls even though they have no real interest in being informed and knowledgeable.

    I encourage people to quit voting if you are not intellectually involved in the process between November Tuesdays every four years. SMDH.

    June 17, 2013 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  17. Sam

    Make your bed of lies and sleep in it.

    June 17, 2013 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  18. QuietStormX

    SO! Noone phones me or my home? Synics look at this as President Obama has caused all these issues, started before without warrents or ones overseeing. What about that? If the cynical public boot out the stagnated gop members in the House and put more members who work for You and this Nation to get Things Done. If ones are looking at this as failing, then you're crazy. You are the ones who put Congress in the shape it's in now. Give me what I want and you get nothing you want. What is that???? Why don't the News repoirt on congress members not doing their job.

    June 17, 2013 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  19. AC

    Anything is okay, so long as the GOP is OUT.

    June 17, 2013 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  20. LR

    Obama is still better than what the alternative was...McCain and Romney.

    June 17, 2013 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  21. Morgan

    I personally really like Barack Obama. He is a good man and does his job.

    June 17, 2013 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  22. Mack

    What goes up must come down. He's under 24/7 hour media assault.

    June 17, 2013 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  23. duh

    It's very clear that this is what the GOP has been aiming for over the past few weeks. At times, it seemed they were almost trying too hard. It's the pathetic state of our government where one side refuses to work with the other side. Everything this president does is criticized even when it is the only answer.

    June 17, 2013 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  24. Muffy 7

    I voted for him twice and now I really regret it he is such a disappointment. I feel he is right there with the bankers, Wall Street and the rest. My biggest annoyance with him as he has not kept his promises. I have no one in the military and yet I care for others "treasure" and we lost about 10 already in this month. He needs to keep his promise to get us out of Afghanistan "yesterday". I will be glad to see him go. He does not either know how or have the "guts" to tell Bohner to go to Hell and do the things this country badly needs. I feel his moral compass is going in the wrong direction.

    June 17, 2013 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  25. Fair is Fair

    Queue up Obama whiners asserting CNN has become "Fox Lite"... because, after all, everyone's hating on the POTUS, don't you know...

    June 17, 2013 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
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