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. s.jones

    It's about time we started to wake up. He shouldn't even be President.of our Country. He should be impeached for taking advantage of his position the way he has, lying to us and Most of all not obiding in our Constitution. He and all his little Obamabots NEED TO GO.

    June 17, 2013 06:23 am at 6:23 am |
  2. John W.

    When your leadership is based on smoke and mirrors it can end up biting you in the butt...

    June 17, 2013 06:24 am at 6:24 am |
  3. Disgrunteled American

    Finally after its to late America !Un- fortunatly still not enough Americans are waking up and see him for what he is.A Dicktator want a be! And no I did not miss spell the word!What will he do with out the media running cover up and reflecting everything he does wrong to other people!

    June 17, 2013 06:24 am at 6:24 am |
  4. Natch

    This is really much worse than CNN makes it out to be, since, no doubt, the sampling of people they ask their opinion of is most likely leaning more to the left, than the right. Like the college students they love asking opinions of, or the people who live and work around DC. Even with the skew, people don't trust you, Barry!

    (Did you get all that, NSA??)

    June 17, 2013 06:25 am at 6:25 am |
  5. Mike Sierra

    I'm starting to have faith in this country again.

    June 17, 2013 06:26 am at 6:26 am |
  6. Jay Faulconer

    Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

    June 17, 2013 06:27 am at 6:27 am |
  7. Robert j ramsthaler

    For the people, by the people ,of the people. ,,,,more like ,,,all about the people ,,,, i dont like Him like i once did ,,, i think he's too busy playing the President and not Being the President ,,,jus saying my 2 cents ,,,

    June 17, 2013 06:27 am at 6:27 am |
  8. eddhur

    there is just to much stuff going on most people want to like Obama but only two thing that it could be he no's what is going on and back it or he does not no what is going on enough way it is bad thing if you are the main man and don't no what is going on that is not good i think if he don't no what is going on he would jump in and get to the bottom of it

    June 17, 2013 06:27 am at 6:27 am |
  9. Jerry

    CNN Poll: Obama approval falls amid controversies... And, RIGHTFULLY SO!!! Enough lies! Enough coverups! Enough flaunting Américan laws and the constitution. Enough disrespecting Américans! ENOUGH, ENOUGH, ENOUGH!!!

    June 17, 2013 06:29 am at 6:29 am |
  10. Hard Corps

    Imagine if it had been Romney, do you think he would have shut down NSA?

    June 17, 2013 06:29 am at 6:29 am |
  11. Seth

    Perhaps the least trustworthy President in the history of the United States – and that says a lot!

    June 17, 2013 06:29 am at 6:29 am |
  12. Skeptimist

    Does this mean that half the country has figured out that the Prez is a government agent?

    June 17, 2013 06:30 am at 6:30 am |
  13. Jerry

    CNN Poll: Obama approval falls amid controversies... And RIGHTFULLY SO!!!

    June 17, 2013 06:30 am at 6:30 am |
  14. Ziggy7th

    I hate it how politicians seem honest, but in fact they are not. As a leader of a nation, they should use morals and virtues. Instead, they act like cowards and act immorally. This is very pitiful and shameful for America.

    June 17, 2013 06:30 am at 6:30 am |
  15. Hard Corps

    It's also funny how Ron Paul says it is wrong but yet did nothing to stop it.

    June 17, 2013 06:30 am at 6:30 am |
  16. Benjamin

    Is this a surprise to anyone?

    June 17, 2013 06:30 am at 6:30 am |
  17. mike Lake Orion Michigan

    It all comes down to leadership!

    June 17, 2013 06:31 am at 6:31 am |
  18. Flatsguide

    The people that believe Obama are slow, very slow. Look how many controversies he has going at one time, IRS, Bengazi, spying on American companies. Kinda reminds me of what the Nazis did. In fact, we could make a movie... Der Fuehrer is Obama, Eric Holder could be Himmler, and Clinton Eva Braun. "I know nothing, I see nothing"....

    June 17, 2013 06:34 am at 6:34 am |
  19. Mischiefpwns

    People are waking up to this habitual liar.

    June 17, 2013 06:34 am at 6:34 am |
  20. common sense

    What sucks is that it took this long for voters to actually educate themselves on the faults of this guy and figure out that he is not worthy of being President! Too late now America! The 45% that still agree have probably received something directly from the tax others to pay for free stuff programs!

    June 17, 2013 06:34 am at 6:34 am |
  21. Rodney Moore

    As much as I hate to admit it, I voted for him in 2008. I really was hoping for a progressive. Instead as soon as he gets into office, he wastes no time continuing the same failed policies of the George W Bush Administration. Opposition to marriage equality, check. Support for continuing the "Patriot" Act, check. Keeping the same Bush tax cuts, check. Then when he squanders a once in a lifetime opportunity for change, with a Democratic super-majority, he continually blames Republicans for doing what they do best which is BE REPUBLICANS. Of course Republicans are going to block legislation, that's their job. If only President Obama and Democrats would as much effort into being Democrats as Republicans do being Republicans, maybe then just maybe he wouldn't have such an abysmal approval rating.

    June 17, 2013 06:34 am at 6:34 am |
  22. Flatsguide

    The people that believe Obama are slow, very slow. Look how many controversies he has going at one time, IRS, Bengazi, spying on American companies. Kinda reminds me of what the Germans did before WWII. In fact, we could make a movie... Der Fuehrer is Obama, Eric Holder could be Himmler, and Clinton Eva Braun. "I know nothing, I see nothing"....

    June 17, 2013 06:35 am at 6:35 am |
  23. Daisy Cutter

    If CNN buys a Quinnapiac poll , I bet he gains 12 points in his favor !

    June 17, 2013 06:35 am at 6:35 am |
  24. jgsatx

    I was much more surprised to learn that more than half the country previously believed He was honest and trustworthy to begin with. That has never been one of His strengths.

    June 17, 2013 06:36 am at 6:36 am |
  25. Jeeper

    The people that believe Obama are slow, very slow. Look how many controversies he has going at one time, IRS, Bengazi, spying on American companies. Kinda reminds me of what the Nazis did in WWII. In fact, we could make a movie... Der Fuehrer is Obama, Eric Holder could be Himmler, and Clinton Eva Braun. "I know nothing, I see nothing"....

    June 17, 2013 06:36 am at 6:36 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45