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. MrCrabs

    My opinion of his political performance has not changed. He's still the empty suit from Illinois that those of us outside of the Banana Republic of Chicago and Krook Kounty have known all along.

    June 17, 2013 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  2. J. Davis in Knoxville, TN

    These days I'm beginning to think that CNN is leaning to the right. I watched morning show on CNN where there was heavy reporting on the President's fall in the ratings; however, I didn't heard anything about this reported on Good Morning America ABC.
    In my opinion, President Obama is doing a fantastic job and I'm sick of all the criticism of him. Happy Birthday, President Obama and hang in there. J. Davis, Knoxville, TN

    June 17, 2013 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  3. Valerie blake

    I have been a registered voter since the age of 1! I'm 50 and I have never been pooled! I don't believe in them they ate biased! Ask me if I approve of the president!! I approve 100 percent!

    June 17, 2013 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  4. EdL

    It will be interesting to see how his mainstream media handles this.

    June 17, 2013 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  5. katdude

    At least he has the 47%.

    June 17, 2013 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  6. Seth

    "It's the first time in CNN polling since November 2011 that a majority of Americans have had a negative view of the president."

    That majority being only 1014 people...?

    June 17, 2013 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  7. T. Lee

    Guess the sheeple have been taken in by the Republican noise-machine once again.

    This president has done more to put America back together again plus take out more bad guys than the previous two Republican administrations combined – and still – there is apparently all to short a memory of their ruinous policies vs this one's corrective actions.

    As to "honesty"? What a laugh. The Bush W. administration was among the most dishonest in history and it doesn't matter if he has experienced a resurgence in approval. That's due to him being an otherwise decent man not because of all his and Dick's policies that ran the country off the rails, over the fiscal cliff, and into a war in Iraq that was totally unnecessary and based on lies – 'hello'!

    June 17, 2013 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  8. KEKC

    Obama is a sneaky liar. I am sorry I voted for him (his first term).

    June 17, 2013 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  9. Realist

    Obama's second term is the definition of "karma". All the arrogance and hubristic actions exhibited by this Administration only goes to prove that "karma" exists. This president has lied, double talked and made promises (he couldn't keep) just to get himself re-elected and now look at him; an empty suit who can't stand up and tell Amerika what is going on with his (ahem) "leadership".

    June 17, 2013 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  10. Huh

    What's more surprising about these numbers is how high his approval still is... Scandal after scandal after scandal and people still approve? Admittedly, still happier to have Obama than Romney, but let's get real, Obama is a phony. Hope and change? The only changes going on are further assaults on privacy and freedom. Clearly Obama doesn't believe he answers to or represents the American people. He's certainly taking his "after the election I can" attitude to the bank.

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

    That unhappiness is probably understated because the media is still in love with President Obama. He still walks on water. And journalists who are not objective are not journalists. True journalism is extinct. Journalists today all have the same DNA and they have been in-breeding for years.

    June 17, 2013 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  12. DARNELL

    Obama is proving his opponents right, that he is just a corrupt thug like all other politicos.

    June 17, 2013 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  13. werthrough

    Well damn, I guess this is when he will finally be recognized as "half-white" to the public; the "darker" public that is...

    June 17, 2013 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  14. Tim Morris

    In my opinion. Mr. Obama, who I voted for twice. Because the republican would have been more disasterous. Bad Karma is going to eat Mr. Obama up because he has blood on his hands of inocent civilians killed by secret dron attacks and i am sure of killings conducted by special ops. When one's hand is the instrumant of the death of one innocent victom.That hand is tainted for an eternity. There is no saveing him from that and his house of cards is doomed to fall, regardless of what ever else is done to try to save him self.

    June 17, 2013 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  15. Nobama

    This president is the biggest embarrassment. Ever.

    June 17, 2013 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  16. davecu

    What has taken so long?
    The King has no clothes!

    June 17, 2013 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  17. US AND THEM

    QUOTE"
    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.

    THENWE DESERVE THE SLAVERY.

    June 17, 2013 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  18. KristinL

    Not True! I trust the President. VERY proud of him.

    June 17, 2013 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  19. tony

    It's the Patriot Act
    The Patriot Act
    The Patriot Act
    The Patriot Act
    Which is a crooked name to deliberately mislead, as President Cheney and front man Bush and the Neocons intended,

    June 17, 2013 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  20. DonRoberto

    What? President Obama's approval rating is only 45%? Gee, that's only two points higher than Ronald Reagan's was when he left office. At least Ronald Reagan earned his 43% by creating all his own scandals. Our current President can't even make his own scandals; the Republicans have to manufacture them for him.

    June 17, 2013 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  21. anna

    The zombies are finally coming out of their coma.

    June 17, 2013 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  22. Daniel Correa

    This article is reading the conclusion of the poll all wrong. It claims that for the first time half or more of the public say they don't believe Obama is honest and trustworthy. But what the poll really indicates is that for the first time more than half of the American public see Obama honestly for what he has always been: a lying politician bent on political power; a Progressive Democrat in office willing to strip you of choices that he thinks you should not make, and willing to collect as much data on you as he can to entrench his Party and politics.

    June 17, 2013 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  23. bcrunner

    Considering how the Republicans have spinned everything as scandals,especially the IRS issue, not surprised.... Obama will recover from this...

    June 17, 2013 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  24. sam

    Who would have thought that continuing Bush's policies would be unpopular? This is the guy who got elected in part because Bush made the GOP the object of scorn. Sigh...

    But I can't wait for the Republicans to read this headline and think that banning abortion, cutting food stamps, handing bags of money to Goldman Sachs and punishing the poor will be popular again. Another invitation for conservative overreach and overconfidence. It will be beautiful to watch.

    June 17, 2013 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  25. ratherbboating

    Wonder why??
    They spend more time on vacation than at the White House. This current vacation by the little family is only costing us $75000 a day for hotel rooms. And then on to the safari, estimate cost on that is only 100 million to take a few pictures. They sure have the middle and lower class in mind with these vacations of theirs.

    June 17, 2013 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
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