June 17th, 2013
06:00 AM ET
10 months 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. Ross

    Obama arming AlQaeda??
    No thanks, that is not the president I voted for.

    June 17, 2013 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  2. McBob79

    Amazing that 45% approve. #notpayingattention.

    June 17, 2013 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  3. John Jingle

    I never had a feeling for this dolt. I vetted him when he was running for State Senator, and knew that he was nothing but a lying, cheating, scandalous piece of dog shite muslamb. Empty suits have no place in this world, especially in the White House. Dumb, misinformed and low information voters voted this clown into office, pathetic.

    June 17, 2013 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  4. The Right Left

    As a supporter of the President, I will step up and say that while most of the mud on him is from Republican propaganda, some of it, he has brought upon himself. He has allowed himself to sink into the quick sand of Washington, that will consume even the strongest and upright. He needs to step out of the muck created largely by the bureaucratic establishment and politics..

    June 17, 2013 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  5. mc

    I am feeling a little duped by Obama. I voted for him twice... but at least I did not vote for Bush twice!

    June 17, 2013 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  6. FatFanny

    He's a puppet of the NWO

    June 17, 2013 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  7. reality

    welcome to the world, CNN. About time you started putting factual, reality based, articles on your site. This pres. is less trustworthy than any before and hopefully, many/all after. He's a proven liar and time will show his behind the scenes manipulation of the American people. For the Obama lovers out there, quit tying your self worth to his success/failure and open your eyes. Brought his corrupt Chicago politics to DC and a new all time low. If he had any scrupple, he'd quit.

    June 17, 2013 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  8. Mac

    One acronym can explain all this : NSA

    I'll never trust this man.

    June 17, 2013 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  9. don

    You'd have to blind to continue to believe this President (or ANY for a very very long time) are honest and trustworthy. They take an oath not to represent a party or an agenda but to protect the Constitution. Each POTUS that has abused his position and authority for the sake of increasing the popularity of his party has abandoned his oath and his responsibility to it. You, who keep voting based on party, either to get yours in office or just to keep the other out, you are driving this country down a road of destruction. Many will be too filled with pride to admit this but the time will come when few will not ask...how did this happen? How did this country get so out of control?

    June 17, 2013 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  10. JR

    People don't even know who their representatives are nor any other pertinent data regarding the USA so how can they render an informed opinion of the Pres.?

    June 17, 2013 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  11. funkae

    the quicker we can get rid of this clown the better.I have never seen a president stick his head in the sand like this guy

    June 17, 2013 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  12. Boo

    I'm not sorry I voted for him but I am TRULY DISAPPOINTED IN HIM AND SOME OF HIS POLICIES. Particularly his caving in about Syria AND spying on citizens of this country

    June 17, 2013 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  13. Wild Red

    Was wanting to post an opinion on the immigration issue but CNN has the responses turned off. All posts were negative toward the immigration bill and I was wanting to express my thumbs down on the bill. It seems when CNN doesn't like the way the responses are going they turn the ability to respond to the article off. CNN, what the hell is wrong with you? Allow people to respond to articles. Are you not democratic. Must you control everything?

    June 17, 2013 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  14. maximusvad

    Obstruction was their plan.

    June 17, 2013 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  15. Sal Voce

    Yeah, How about the bulldogs in the press jumping on this $100 MILLION vacation of his to Africa at a time when we can't afford to keep the white house tours open!

    Where are Woodward, Burnstein and the Post NOW!????

    June 17, 2013 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  16. Chris

    No surprise here. Obama is an awful president. I really hope a 3rd party candidate wins next election!!!

    June 17, 2013 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  17. Ron Guzzy

    If the NSA would have tryed pulling this off in the 1950s they would have been labeled as communist and hung as such.

    June 17, 2013 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  18. PtBarnumBoy

    Like this should be a shock to anyone?? GW worked on the theory that if you tell the same lies over and over again people will eventually come to believe them – FOX, Rush, Sean, Bill, and the rest of talk radio (to say nothing of Mr. Issa) know this theory works and are doing their best to perpetuate it.

    June 17, 2013 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  19. john

    Doesn't matter....he's not running for President again. However, it ensures that almost nothing will be done in the next 4 years.....total gridlock.

    June 17, 2013 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  20. Mark

    It took this long for the public to realize?

    June 17, 2013 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  21. us_1776

    Let's be clear about this.

    I don't approve of what the president has been doing because he is not doing enough PROGRESSIVE things that he promised he would do.l

    Repeal the unconstitutional and unpatriotic Patriot Act.

    Close down Guantanamo Prison the symbol of war crimes around the world from the tortures that occurred during the Bush administration.

    For starters.
    .

    June 17, 2013 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  22. Shecky

    The Low Information Voters who voted TWICE for this buffoon are finally waking up.

    June 17, 2013 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  23. Anonymous

    Because he has been a worthless president; simple.

    June 17, 2013 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  24. jmat

    Our eyes are finally starting to open....WAKE UP AMERICA !

    June 17, 2013 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  25. Mike

    What's truly incredible is that half the people still endorse this guy.

    June 17, 2013 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
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