June 17th, 2013
06:00 AM ET
2 years 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. danita

    Where are Santa's "obama" supporters when CNN finally starts telling the truth about this man? He's always been dishonest to the working class while protecting the welfare.

    June 17, 2013 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  2. Getthetruth

    seems the rest of the people are finally figuring out what a lot of us already knew.

    June 17, 2013 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  3. ney

    Err is human, President Obama is dislike above all because of his race. Under his umbrella bin Laden was caught with a smaller cost.. Our young man and women (soldiers) have not being put on sensless wars. Getting shot from both sides(by sunnies and shias) in a war, mouse trap like. I wish the wealthy arabs should put their own people to streighten their playground. And now our congress must consider if our soldiers are sent to fight, the bullets and weapons used against them are going to be Russian and Chinese. President Obama "reach out to rouge countries" has brought a Myammar to full throttle towards democracy (not one shot) Miss Su Ki along with many others are free. The promise to invest in Palestine is changing minds in the region, along will go rouge Iran. Bengazi did not kill dozens or hudreds of our young men and women soldiers. And remember at the beginig America was brown, not white. White supremacism is priding on the bloodshed of the native man. Peace and Bless to all.

    June 17, 2013 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  4. Monster

    Slowly but surely the cookie continues to crumble... Obama is shown to be the fraud he truly is along with the rest of American politics.

    June 17, 2013 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  5. Nelson Colorado Springs Co

    CNN/ORC International survey President Barack Obama approval rating dropped eight percentage points over the past month, to 45%. Well Well! look on President Barack Obama mother side still look's pretty bright. May God Bless The President Barack Obama and Family

    June 17, 2013 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  6. c

    1,014 does not a majority make.

    June 17, 2013 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  7. Selendis

    Notice if you start looking at the breakdown of each viewpoint, it shows that americans are fickle, and don't even know what they think? And clearly one third of the population believes in their own invisibility.

    June 17, 2013 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  8. K. in Miami

    I'm convinced that CNN has fox operatives in their ranks, this author says blacks are the President staunchest supporters, what the author won't say is that blacks make up 13% of the US population. The math is not adding up here, CNN what gives, you have turned into Fox CNN Central.

    June 17, 2013 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  9. Nancy

    The poll missed one option, competent to do the job. Interesting, he found the best people to get him elected. Too bad he doesn't surround himself with the best in positions that give him critical advice for him to act on as President..
    In 2008, I was relieved he was in the White House. Now, I can't wait for the next election for a new person to take his place. All he does is campaign for other democrats, ignore scandals rocking this country and getting involved in yet another war we cant afford, and probably shouldn't be involved in due to the fact its a civil was. I would really like him to sit in the Oval Office and tell the people about, the National Debt, National deficit, how we are going to stay close to the top in the world by printing trillions of dollars to pay the bills (wish I could do that), Bengazi, IRS, NSA, Attorney General, Syria, etc..... Remember, we are the people he works for. He's not king or dictator, though I'm beginning to wonder if that's how he sees himself. Sorry I couldn't be more positive, but I see this country sliding downhill and feel my child, or future grandchildren aren't going to live in a better United States. Sad commentary on what was once the best country in the world.

    June 17, 2013 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  10. Chris

    I can't believe it took the public this long to figure out the President is not trustworthy.

    June 17, 2013 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  11. keltic1

    I have lost Trust in government protecting me from government over reaches.

    June 17, 2013 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  12. Kerry

    Getting involved with Syria is a relationship breaker for a lot of folks.

    June 17, 2013 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  13. Mike Retorili

    You mean people are finally waking up? Welcome to what many of us knew 4 years ago...

    June 17, 2013 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  14. Michele

    The Republicans are dragging him down to their level.

    June 17, 2013 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  15. flyfysher

    I strongly disapprove of Obama and his actions on the domestic surveillance issue.

    June 17, 2013 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  16. obama victim

    makes you wonder who the 45% are?? oh yeah

    June 17, 2013 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  17. bill

    Nobody had a lower approval rating than dubya. When Obama starts getting close to dubya numbers then folks can worry. And as long as Obama doesn't fabricate evidence to invade Iraq resulting in the deaths of thousands of American soldiers and coalition partners, I don't think Obama will EVER get as low as dubya

    June 17, 2013 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  18. Crocker

    Better late than never I guess. Although at this stage of the game there is nothing we can do about it. Hopefully, the next President will be voted in by voters who actually do their homework instead of voting for the guy who will give them the biggest handouts.

    June 17, 2013 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  19. Obama Dogeater

    The lede paragraph should begin with: "Despite the best efforts of the media to ignore the most corrupt administration in U.S. history,"

    June 17, 2013 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  20. n2it

    First off, hi feds. Secondly, he went from POTUS to POS pretty quickly I'd say...The truth aint in him.

    June 17, 2013 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  21. melanieb.

    He has never been honest..he has lied, cheated & stole his way through his entire presidency. He has done nothing but destroy this country and divide it to the point it will take years to get it back to what it once was. More Obama lovers are waking up from their slumber & seeing what he is doing & it is beginning to effect their lives like the rest of us for so many years with him in office. Time for him & all his henchmen to go!

    June 17, 2013 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  22. Silver Fox

    It's just what people in Illinois have known all along.. politicians from Illinois can't be trusted. Two Governors in prisoned over the past decade.. scandal after scandal.. and America decides to elect a career politician from Illinois...classic. "Oh but he's smooth"..."He's so charismatic"... ya...and from Illinois where it's been corrupt since Al Capone.

    June 17, 2013 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  23. dot8

    Obama is honest and trustworthy, it is his administration that is not.

    June 17, 2013 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  24. Big Al

    Every time I read a story about this man...every time I think of how things are going now, I can't help but remember how this country was practically run into the ground due to the interests of a handful of men and the puppet they placed in the whitehouse.

    Tens of thousands of people were killed worldwide due to the private interests of a select few. And now, I thank the lord that a patriot, educated and pragmatic has been at the helm these past seven years. God bless Barack Obama.

    June 17, 2013 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  25. GuvmentCheese

    A poll involving 1014 people...enough said. This is just Monday filler 'news'

    June 17, 2013 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
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