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. Johnny 5

    How is Obama even still in office? Nixon resigned due to Watergate and nobody died in that scandal.

    Obama has 4 dead americans in Benghazi, Drone strikes in Libya without congressional approval ( impeachable offense) , the IRS scandal, and the largest spying ring on his own citizens and abroad in US history.

    June 17, 2013 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  2. Randall Heckelsberg

    Duh! Wake up and smell the BS America. Do you really think this administration has had the best interests of ALL the American people at heart? I can accept that we all are human and sometimes fall short. I find it hard to accept that the most powerful people on the planet choose to whitewash or ignore their mistakes rather than admit and correct them.

    June 17, 2013 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  3. ask

    Thumbs down Mr. Obama. I guess its norm for politicians to forget what they so loudly proclaimed they will do. This is what makes one turn away from politics. Obama, whom we so fervently supposed, has been a big disappointment. The constitutions with its ingrained safeguards, should not be taken an an irritant but a code of conduct that has served us well for over 200 years. True we may have saved lives by monitoring phone calls but excesses once started have a way of creeping up and up. That is exactly the same rationale used by autocratic government.

    June 17, 2013 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  4. So swings the pendulum!!

    What goes round comes around, Obamarama!

    June 17, 2013 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  5. ConfucianScholar

    If Obama was as against violations of civil liberties as he pretended to be during the elections he would have voided the federal order to spy on millions of US citizens. Obama has used the IRS as a tool to punish his political detractors. After more than 4 years in office not one person responsible for the mega financial crisis has gone to jail. The economic recovery is extra slow due to his ineptitude in economics and to chose able advisers. Every way you look at it he loses. Obama will go down in history as THE FAILED EXPERIMENT.

    June 17, 2013 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  6. ~M V P

    Poor Barack Hussein Obama :) It happens to most of the Presidents at one time or another.

    June 17, 2013 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  7. Concerned American

    Finally, liberals waking up? What is the most disturbing is that it took the NSA scandal to get the lefts attention. Democrats could care less about 4 Americans killed and then covered up by their "all mighty" President's administration or an attorney general that is dirtier than a rat in Chicago, or the HHS secretary playing mobster and collecting funds from those she regulates, and one of my favorites is an IRS that targets conservatives for years during election time and the President claims to only know about it at the same time Americans found out (note: Obama fails to mention anything about the Secratary of the IRS visiting the White House more than all of his other Secretaries combined)

    This entire Presidency has been a mirroring image of Chicago's Mayor Daley regime.

    And if the media had any guts, they would stand up to the gangster thugs that try to bully them to shad their stories and they would start reporting the truth, which is what real American journalism is suppose to be about.

    Lets hope the administration gets this email through their Verizon share everything plan.

    June 17, 2013 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  8. Chedar

    This is big BS! They say we are starting to be infatuated with Bush and now these BS about OBAMA.

    June 17, 2013 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  9. owleyes11

    Who was it who said, "You can fool half of the people all of the time and all of the people half of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time."? He is nothing, but a Chicago politician and our President. We can't cry over spilt milk. What's done is done and I can only hope that voters get wiser next time, but I won't hold my breath.

    June 17, 2013 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  10. Anonymous

    At least half the population never had that lovin feelin

    June 17, 2013 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  11. jan

    sorry that would be 60 -100 million, oops :)

    June 17, 2013 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  12. The Truth Hurts

    So apparently there IS a learning curve, it just is a really, really slow one...

    June 17, 2013 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  13. GreyJedi

    Cant possibly imagine why...*coughIRS,APscandal,NSA,domesticspying,Syria,Gitmo,Monsanto,NDAA,2ndammendmentattacks,...cough, cough*

    Wow, excuse me, not sure where that came from. Must be coming dow with something. Good thing I have Obama care.

    June 17, 2013 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  14. Carlos

    It is the season of heavily discounted summer scandals. Regarding Snowden, the Patriot Act was passed on October 26, 2001. It is a public document that anyone can go and read. It authorizes everything that the government is doing. Not only that, but the Bush administration is the one that passed the Patriot Act and used it for most of Bush's tenure. So why wasn't this a "scandal" during the Bush administration? Only because during the Bush administration no traitor came out and leaked what the Bush administration was doing. Did anyone even bother to read the Patrior Act? It has been sitting there authorizing everything for 12 years!!! And now suddenly, it becomes a "scandal". Just like the other "scandal" about the $200 Million cost of the trip to Africa. It has always cost a fortune to protect presidents, especially while travelling overseas and in more dangerous areas of the World. And it will cost even more for future presidents to be protected. So come again please, why is this also a "scandal", when the cost has always been like this for all presidents.

    June 17, 2013 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  15. derykhouston

    International law is the core foundation of every civilized country. Obama has shown that he does not value that idea by crossing over other countries sovereign borders with drones and murders people.
    It is no wonder that the world now looks at him with different eyes.

    June 17, 2013 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  16. what's up

    How can anyone be this much of a clown?

    June 17, 2013 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  17. David

    The fact is that he's the commander in chief

    June 17, 2013 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  18. SEAL Team Alpha and Omega

    Not even going to read this article because it's just a bunch of crap stirred and made up by jealous Republicans and Fux News Noise. Obama is a great statesman and president and has done a tremendous amount of good for America. CNN has no clue what they are talking about.

    June 17, 2013 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  19. Dawn

    Wow! What took people so long? I was there the first time around...all his nice oratory never rang true to me.

    June 17, 2013 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  20. MaevenBeMe

    Yep, Mr. President. It's just amazing how those chickens come home to roost, isn't it? In retrospect, I felt this was coming the first time Holder got his butt caught in a crack. I REALLY think he's done you a disservice, but that's up to you to correct. You blew it, and your legacy will be 13M illegal aliens waiting in line for the dole. For shame.

    June 17, 2013 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  21. Lynda/Minnesota

    Oh, dear. President Obama's approval ratings are falling ... and Mr. George Bush's approval ratings are on the rise. Good thing that neither Mr. Obama nor Mr. Bush can ever be elected President of the United States ... yes, CNN?

    I'd say more - but, you know - I think I'm going to let this little tidbit of propaganda play itself out in the media. God knows, the media deserves each and every supporter it can get pushing its "polls" as truth. How long has it been now of nonstop Obama bashing? A month? Two months? Five years?

    Whatever it takes to keep the bickering between political party membership going full speed ahead...

    June 17, 2013 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  22. american patriot

    Tired of the government violating your rights? Join the AMERICAN OPPOSITION ARMY facebook page to help restore liberty to our once great nation

    June 17, 2013 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  23. sally

    I'm still behind Obama...I think he has done a good job despite the stubborn insanity from Congress.

    June 17, 2013 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  24. rebiii

    You mean, people don't like being spied on? I'm SHOCKED. The N.S.A. doesn't mind being spied on. Oh, wait...

    June 17, 2013 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  25. DoNotWorry

    I am unhappy with the NSA. I would vote for Obama again, because there was no alternative at the time; however, that doesn't mean I am pleased with how many of Bush's policies he has maintained, how he gave the U.S. Treasury to the men who caused the global economic collapse, how the Wall Street perps were never convicted. The worst thing I have seen is how he and Holder have continued Bush's Deferred Prosecution Agreements that guarantee no corporate executives will go to jail... unleashing a corporate crime wave in this country that has American corporations being the biggest criminals this world has ever seen. And still I would vote for him over Romney, who is worse. Time to clean up.

    June 17, 2013 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
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