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. denise

    First off the media report too much that the US got going on!!!! Us spying on Russia is what we suppose to do!!!! But it should'nt be reported we live in a world where the media gives bad people like terrorist ideas and report on information on how to attack us!!!! this just boils my blood because its the media who making our country look bad!!! The president has to make some decisions to keep us protected we voted for him so let this man do his job instead of trying to blame everything that is wrong in this country on him!!!!!

    June 17, 2013 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  2. Steph

    IMHO, this is the worst President in American history! Either he's lying when he says he didn't know what was going on about any of what has come out, or he's incompetent! Either way, he should be impeached. This entire administration always seem to side step the questions, or they answer with "I don't know"! People need to wake up OUR Constitution is being shredded!

    June 17, 2013 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  3. Gaff

    All of these poll numbers once represented something to me, but after watching Washington devolve over the last decade I have lost a lot of respect and interest in what is happening there. The smear tactics have become more important than accomplishing government tasks. Compromise is gone, and every action is taken out of fear of political retribution from voters, political parties, and lobbyists. More time is spent worrying about the next election, future opponents arguments, and catering to lobbyists rather than spending that valuable time in office to protect the people of the United States of America. The popularity contest numbers are meaningless, and the polls mean nothing but it makes for a good story.

    June 17, 2013 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  4. NameJoseph

    He was never qualified to begin with.
    Elected by moochers, misfits, malcontents and mama's boys.
    Weak, divisive and disingenuous.
    Thought he was above the fray.
    Now beneath contempt.

    June 17, 2013 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  5. Teddy

    ...and who cares? do you have more money in your pockets?
    cheer up guys, the Kardashians have a baby!

    June 17, 2013 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  6. Bob

    Let me know when he invades the wrong country.

    June 17, 2013 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  7. Anonymous

    Without the strict rules in Singapore, there would be chaos everywhere, every day! Similarly, without the NSA program of phone-tracking, America would be attacked almost every day by terrorists. If the people in Singapore are happy and safe, then why don't we feel the same?

    June 17, 2013 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  8. MGB2012

    His poll numbers are nothing more than a reflection of the mud slinging the right has been pushing to directly tie this President to every issue they think will favor their side. It garbage and I think most Americans know it. Not sure whether the 1000 or so polled here is a reflection of the electorate in general.. Don't buy the hype.

    Decisions at the IRS tp target conservatives as it turns out were made by a Republican in charge which what appears to be for effieciency reasons. The NSA program we all know has been going lbefore President Obama came into office, and right or wrong is not reflection on him alone. Don't like it, get rid of the Patriot Act.

    In as hard as the right has tried there the awful loss of the Embassador is a reflection of the lack of funding the Protection Services has. Last but not least, Cheney calling anybody's creditbility into question is a joke, where are those weapons of mass distruction?

    June 17, 2013 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  9. Anonymous

    No one trusts Obama because the GOP spends so much time creating nonexistent crises to discredit him. Lets start solving America's problems and move forward as a nation. Stop playing brinkmanship games and start legislating.

    June 17, 2013 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  10. JackieG

    We voted for Obama because we thought he was different. He hasn't fulfilled his promises and he has just continued the same objectionable policies of the Bush administration. Those of us who believed in hope and change have now become cynics.

    June 17, 2013 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  11. Worship Warrior

    Does this surprise anyone? I'll leave it at that.

    June 17, 2013 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  12. Chris

    There are millions of U.S. voters who can now say, "I told you".

    June 17, 2013 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  13. Lib

    Americans are fickle. And at this time, nobody trusts any politicians. But in comparison with the congress approval ratings this is no surprise. Many Americans just forget this Patriot Act was not Obama's doing and many who are fickle are willing to believe a traitor selling US secrets than to believe their country. Many people are looking for a reason to hate the president. But if once again we have a terrorist hit in this country those same people will blame the president for not doing enough. And then again, this is CNN's poll. A group large number including this paper who are Obama haters. Let's see what they would do if they were president. Where are the suggestions? Looks like the non working lying repubs are winning.

    June 17, 2013 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  14. Gurgyl

    One thing is for sure–he has to go out and see how many India guys are coming in H1-B, J-1visas, not going home and ultimately illegals then we make all illegals to legals. Nonsense. Stop it. Tom, Dick and Harry is getting visas–bad sign for USA.... Cut visas be it IT or Doctors. Do not fine immigrations like FREE-PASS.

    June 17, 2013 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  15. Ray E. (Georgia)

    There is fact and there is fanatasy. People need to take more rsponsibility and not leave it to government. The Liberal's don't think the people can take care of themselves as shown by the nearly 17 Trillion Dollar Federal debt. People trusted too much to the government and the current adminstration is the result. National Security is a government function and Obama has done the right things. The domestic sector is another subject.

    June 17, 2013 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  16. Richard Right

    Perhaps Obama's problems come from repeated lies from the White House and subordinate agencies. Perhaps because the President constantly acts surprised and the people are tired of it. But mostly its because of revelations made by FOX News because CNN and the other media have pretty much refused to initiate negative news of the administrations actions.

    June 17, 2013 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  17. Bob

    Remember folks, this is a CNN poll. It's plus or minus 15 point off from reality or most other polls.

    June 17, 2013 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  18. mkat2

    Obama's presidency is like one of those TV ads promoting some miracle, wondrous, product that will change your life forever (food chopper,garden hose) & if you buy NOW, you'll get TWO!! When any perceptive person can easily recognize the product is sure to be just Carnival hype over an inferior product that doesn't deliver what is promised.
    "Step right up folks, get yours NOW"! Even foreign leaders don't respect our 'Community Organizer' & just tolerate him. The biggest hoax ever foisted on the American people!

    June 17, 2013 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  19. Concerned Educator, Mississippi

    A article such as this frustrates me. I for one approve of the job President Obama has been doing. Most of the folks who all of a sudden think the president is not trustworthy didn't think he was trustworthy in the first place. There has been no scandal and if folks are gullible enough to believe the lies of those with an agenda, it will do nothing but motivate his supporters to fight even harder and work harder for the mid-term elections. In spite of, we will move FORWARD!

    June 17, 2013 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  20. JJ236

    The IRS, NSA spying, amnesty for the illegal invaders, arming al queda "rebels" in Syria ........what part of these issues is acceptable at all? Besides a few people throwing themselves under the obama campaign bus, no clear plans to fix or temper any of the ongoing issues from this POTUS.

    June 17, 2013 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  21. whitman30

    As someone who voted for Obama, I have to say I am becoming disappointed with his second term, and it isn't because of the scandals in world politics; it is because of the economy: housing, gas, hiring, social security, education, etc. Those are important items that are being ignored for other issues that seem important to him, not to me.

    June 17, 2013 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  22. Dolin Dolby

    I'm liberal. I'm progressive. Yea, we're usually the ones who move the human race forwards, while the Republicans try to stop it, like freeing the slaves, giving black people equal rights, women voting, etc. etc. etc. yea there definitely is a long-term trend there you can't deny, like global warming, but this one we screwed up. Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize and is a Constitutional Law scholar. How could you, Obama? If a President like you can't stand up for what's right even when the people around you suffered from group-think and cowardice, will we ever have the President we deserve? They should revoke the Peace Prize for Guantanamo, and Harvard should revoke your degrees, for failing to uphold the constitution. The constitution needs to be upheld, not circumvented with clever legal technicalities. That means the IDEAS too. A secret court? Are you serious?

    June 17, 2013 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  23. watash60

    more people waking up but the takers obama created have the votes he needs until the checks stop

    June 17, 2013 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  24. Anonymous

    You need a larger sampling to come up with the conclusions on the American public made in this article.

    June 17, 2013 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  25. FredScuttle1969

    Dick Cheney is nothing more than a glorified WAR CRIMINAL. May his next heart attack be his final one.

    June 17, 2013 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
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