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. Lauradet

    Obama will get his MOJO back, but the Republicans will be right there to tear him down again and again instead of moving the country forward.

    June 17, 2013 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  2. James

    Love the sad 'boma face.

    June 17, 2013 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  3. John

    You can only lie and skirt the truth for so long before the public at large lose faith. Of course the Obama sheep will follow without question he does not have to do anything to earn their trust and like Chris Matthews they get that chill up their leg when the great one reads from his teleprompter but for the rest of us we have seen the man behind the curtain and know this wizard is nothing but a fake and a liar.

    June 17, 2013 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  4. The REAL Truth...

    Hmm... appears the Obstructionist Party SOP of finding a scandal under every rock of a Dem POTUS early 2nd term, is paying dividends with those red state lemmings... meanwhile, down in TX, Perry continues to whine about states rights yet blasts FEMA for NOT writing a check to rebuild West, TX – a disaster that was not natural, came in just under the $43 damages limit (required for FEMA consideration).

    When is the country going to wake up to these Republicans strategies that target low-information voters ??

    June 17, 2013 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  5. ppp

    is this the survey that gave Romney an edge?

    June 17, 2013 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  6. Brad

    He lost my approval the moment he spied on my ailing grammy. She lost her battle with cancer the moment she discovered that Obama's SS soldiers were listening in on what she thought were private phone calls to her prayer circle. For shame!

    June 17, 2013 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  7. Jeeper

    Anyone surprised by this?

    June 17, 2013 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  8. Russ

    Just shows you how many gullible people there are and how they are affacted by the rightwing propaganda machine. Basically, none of this recent BS is directly Obama's fault and not any different than under Bush.....hmmm, what's the difference? Skin color maybe?

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

    So what? He won't be running again so it doesn't"t matter.

    June 17, 2013 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  10. Dave The Butcher

    The Republicans have been doing a great job making sure nothing gets done and making sure our President fails.

    June 17, 2013 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  11. Ohio Independent

    Time to play Jeopardy. Answer: His lips are moving. Question: How can you tell when Obama is lieing?

    June 17, 2013 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  12. oomni31703

    How can anyone now respond to anything re the government based on the IRS repercusssionns against T party groups and conservative individuals ?????????
    Progressives is a word that in 10-20 years will bean adjective for shame, disgrace, betrayal

    June 17, 2013 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  13. josh o

    This should come to no surprise. Obama is a media pig and has good speeches, thats all. His policies are bogus, he hasnt helped the economy in any sense of the word "help", and he has many revolving cover ups. Truly a bad president when our country needs a real leader.

    June 17, 2013 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  14. Mark D

    Amazing they're still at 45%. Are 45% of the people that dumb?

    June 17, 2013 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  15. Lew

    This just means half the country is clueless to what is going on in the real world. Believe it or not there are people out there who dont follow anything the President says or does, they only like him as a person or because of his historical value as the first african american president. In the eyes of half of the population, this President can do no wrong. His presidency has been a nightmare for all Americans. His signature healthcare debacle even has democrats and unions running foir higher ground. His bragging on killing Bin Laden is coming back to bite him because the war on terror is even worse now. When will half the country wake up and see we dont need people like Obama or Hillary Clinton running this country. We need real leaders who put Americans first...not a political agenda and crazy idealogy.

    June 17, 2013 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  16. TransitDave

    Obama falling in the polls?...............Which only proves that average people, for all their faults, are not willfully blind, nor in the tank for Obama, unlike the mainstream media, who just can't quit him. Media types are suffering from battered lib syndrome. Soon they'll be blaming themselves........

    June 17, 2013 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  17. steve

    well people who voted for him, now know what they voted for. They voted and supported a liar, they voted for all coverup, they voted for a barage of scandals, now he is not able to fire his buddy Eric Holder, after he lied to congress. this is something not accepable in our society.

    June 17, 2013 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  18. Lynda0228

    IIt's beginning to sink in to people how much he's been lying all along - says one thing, does the opposite. Or he claims to know nothing unless it's on the news. Or he side-steps responsibility on orders that could only come from him. About time.

    June 17, 2013 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  19. GOPrNoGood

    The GOP, get over it – the one-termer racist mentality didn't work, did it?

    June 17, 2013 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  20. Democrat

    Very disappointed and a bit disgusted. Surveillance is no joke, and that's why no one is laughing. To regain legitimacy, they must stop the spying program and stop harassing journalists.

    June 17, 2013 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  21. Really?

    "I love how i am asked my opinion on how the president is doing all the time! I feel these polls really accurately represent a fair cross-section of the people, and are perfectly indicative of the true opinion of EVERYONE in the US!" said no one that was poor or minority, ever.

    June 17, 2013 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  22. Appu

    Never thought he was honest! He is incapable of bringing changes so is the stupid ass congress...all they care about is their selfish interests. They have big investments in big corporations and they cater to them. No one cares about public!
    US and its pride is going down one day at a time..we need individuals who are willing to take down corruption and make changes happen at the grass root level. We need invidivuals who are willing to put emphasis on education and infrastructure. The infrastructure that we were once proud of is going into waste compared to the rest of the world. Students cannot afford college and are deep in student debt!! Struggling graduates never make up for economic growth!
    Time for a charismatic, young leader. Obama needs to step down! We need more young minds in the congress! We need people who think like ordinary people in the government!

    June 17, 2013 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  23. NameStephen Mitchell

    CNN and others are responsible for Obama

    June 17, 2013 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  24. dh

    The headline should have read: "America is waking UP"

    June 17, 2013 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  25. steve

    Finally, the polls reflect reality. A politician is a politician. Let go of your blind obedience and hero-worship.

    June 17, 2013 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
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