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. Presto88

    Obama doesnt care what his approval rating is...he lied and fooled enough people to get elected for a second term and that is what matters.

    June 17, 2013 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  2. Network

    He is showing his true self now. Starting to get it people?????

    June 17, 2013 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  3. Dale

    Trustworthy? Barack Obama has never been a trustworthy person, so untrustworthy that he would never be allowed in the Boy Scouts let alone becoming a Eagle Scout.

    June 17, 2013 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  4. damnyankee

    His approval freefall has been a culmination of several things:

    - High unemployment
    - Fast & Furious (gun trafficking scandal)
    - Benghazi (lying about "the video")
    - IRS scandal (particularly when Paz was an Obama political contributor)
    - Spying on Americans via cell phones & internet
    - His buddy Eric Holder is amazingly still in office
    - lying about Affordable Healthcare Act "Obamacare" where the working poor will have to buy health insurance

    It's frankly surprising he's even at a 45% approval level, to be honest.

    June 17, 2013 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  5. BJNJ

    I've been saying FOR YEARS that this guy is a sizzle, no steak, all show, no go. He's our rock star. Big smile, teleprompter enable. Says what you want to hear. WHEN IN FACT he's a bulls$&^ artist. A sneak. The US has been hurt by his antics. BJNJ

    June 17, 2013 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  6. GG

    Even those drunk on the kool aide can see through this crook's lies.

    June 17, 2013 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  7. John

    His words and actions don't match, it's that simple.

    June 17, 2013 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  8. It's Sergeant to you!

    Goes to show that polls are pure nonsense. President Obama would get re-elected today, tomorrow and if he could, in 2016. This is not news, it's just a way of CNN inciting the right wing nuts so they can do or say something idiotic.

    June 17, 2013 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  9. Esteban cortes

    People don't even look out obama is a lazy man he spend most his time flying playing golf fund rising and b.s people

    June 17, 2013 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  10. Jim

    Can't figure out why people don't trust the guy who promised to be better than Bush but is more secretive, defends and expands Bush secrecy and then tells us to basically stop whining that his administration is collecting all our calls, texts and tapping into your online communications. Can't imagine people being disappointed, no, really...

    June 17, 2013 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  11. max

    first time?????? Where have you been?????????????

    June 17, 2013 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  12. Hannibal Lecter

    Well the rest of the country is realizing what we finally know.
    The Manchurian candidate is obama.

    June 17, 2013 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  13. HJC

    The media still loves him. Even after the AP disaster.

    I'm more bothered by the programs than the man himself. And I'm 0-2 in my opportunities to vote for him.

    June 17, 2013 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  14. Petroleum V. Nasby

    Every time there is a fire in NYC, I blame the commissioner. From '02 to '09 it was Scoppetta's fault...now I simply blame Cassano. Let me tell you, it is much easier than learning what caused each fire and working to prevent the next one.

    June 17, 2013 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  15. Keane

    Unfortunate for our country that this intelligent, visionary, decent President is surrounded by so much pettiness, bigotry, jealousy and hate. The GOP and their flock shame us daily.

    June 17, 2013 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  16. Joe

    It took too long for this to happen. This is not a surprise. He has been lying throughout his presidency. The man will say anything to remain in power.

    June 17, 2013 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  17. madashell uscitizen

    This is not any great news as most Americans have known this for years yet never said anything for fear of retaliation from him or by his office as most Americans are ashamed that his name as a U.S President has dishonored or country including the U.S. Veterans!

    REGARDS

    June 17, 2013 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  18. WIlly

    Ironic, there was not much negative press on Obama compared to other presidents until his people spied on the presses telephone calls. Maybe coincidence.

    June 17, 2013 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  19. john johns

    Does anyone really think any politician is honest let alone this guy?

    June 17, 2013 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  20. madashell uscitizen

    This is not any great news as most Americans have known this for years yet never said anything for fear of retaliation from him or by his office as most Americans are ashamed that his name as a U.S President has dishonored our country including the U.S. Veterans!

    REGARDS

    June 17, 2013 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  21. Sunflower2

    "half of the public says they don't believe he is honest and trustworthy." Dumbfounded that there are still people only now figuring this out..........

    June 17, 2013 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  22. Nate

    About time Americans wake up. Had they just listened earlier we wouldn't be here with him now.

    June 17, 2013 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  23. loopholes suck

    last September's attack in Benghazi were never prevented, nor was bostom bombing..neither was prevented with this new spy machine..the american pubilc have a right to know where their money is going.

    we need people in place, to protect us from crooney govmerent and misuse of tech
    we need news law in place to protect the public from over reach and misuse of tech..
    Tech is a close part of our lives now..and the NSA SPy protgram, goes against the 4th amendments..you have no right to even collect one piece of information on any innocent United States Citizen with out a search warrent

    June 17, 2013 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  24. Hillary Clinton

    Gee, I would have thought that it would have dropped a lot more than that!

    June 17, 2013 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  25. Hubris Amok

    Lower approval ratings... Yeah, secretly infringing on people's privacy will tend to do that.

    June 17, 2013 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
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