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. Al Gorelies

    really?? For the first time over half of america does not approve of this puppet?

    Where exactly has CNN been taking its polls lately?

    Heck, anyone know of this man's lack of qualifications to lead the government. The only thing that he ever had was being black and being able to manipulate any crowd (largely of stoididiots) to follow him.
    This was the only prerequisite to put him in the white house and have the final nails on the coffin for american freedom driven through.
    Else, why would a suspected crack smoking, closet homosexual, inexperienced, communist radical, non-citizen ever be even considered for the presidency?
    Answer this question before you begin your knee jerk reaction comments, if any, back to me, please..

    June 17, 2013 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  2. John in CA

    First let's get rid of the Patriot Act in Congress and then we will work on taking out the trash in the White House.

    June 17, 2013 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  3. joe

    The dude's a crook.

    June 17, 2013 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  4. Jerome Horowitz

    Familiarity breeds contempt.

    June 17, 2013 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  5. Chris

    The buck stops there I guess.

    June 17, 2013 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  6. leelanau_bear

    By avoiding his lavish African vacation, it is estimated that White House tours for American children could be funded for 26 years. Great legacy, Mr. President.

    June 17, 2013 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  7. Klaus

    Bush is looking good in comparison to Obama now ......

    June 17, 2013 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  8. jake1969

    "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."

    Translated - regardless of what the security bashers and conspiracy theorists say, 60% think Obama is doing just right or should be doing more!

    June 17, 2013 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  9. Anna Sieminski

    I was very astound to find this on CNN

    June 17, 2013 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  10. timidlady

    He drove by my house twice promoting a factory that didn't want to employ me. Does he want to be my employer then? I would be happy if I could have a job I could support myself at without being married.

    June 17, 2013 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  11. Jeff

    As if Obama gives a hoot what his approval rating is

    June 17, 2013 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  12. jake1969

    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.

    My bad! I meant 55% about right or should be doing more...still a solid majority.

    June 17, 2013 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  13. Gem Here

    I think the blame for everything under the govt. unfortunately hits the president. So ,while he may have had no knowledge of certain events taking place, folks will still say it was under his supervision. It happens. I overall still think him to be a genuine person with the best interest for the people.

    June 17, 2013 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  14. jasonn13

    Amazing to me why it's taken some folks so long to notice Obama's shortcomings in the truth and policy areas. Perhaps if the "journalists" had been doing their jobs instead of cheer-leading the American people would have had the facts much sooner, eh?

    June 17, 2013 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  15. don

    I think Jimmy Carter was "honest". It may have been an impairment.
    Politics is poker with very high stakes, affecting millions of other people. Transparency is an ideal but a luxury.
    I think the Republican Party is manufacturing scandals in the same way that Karl Rove
    once invited hobos to Democratic Party rallies.
    Barack Obama may love being loved a bit too much but it pains me to see him picked apart this way.
    The Old Man and the Sea....he caught the big fish but it was torn apart by sharks before he got to port.
    It's what they do.

    June 17, 2013 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  16. tkindsm

    The other half of America is finally paying attention and seeing that American peoples best interests are not part of his plan.

    June 17, 2013 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  17. Neal

    Replace the entire administration...none can be trusted in Washington anymore

    June 17, 2013 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  18. Name Bernat Beckman

    I am surprised obama numbers are that high.
    Obama has failed America on every front, whether corrupted or incompetent, Obama wields his failures with arrogance and contempt.

    June 17, 2013 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  19. KeetonPeggy

    I for myself think Obomahas done a good job under all the negative Republican twisting everything the Man has tried to do.

    June 17, 2013 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  20. Chuck Cumella

    II'm glad that the American public has finally realized the truth.

    June 17, 2013 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  21. saywhat

    Pr.Obama's mistake is to run with Bush era policies on foreign affairs, militarism & terrorism. The 'change' has not happened. This would considerably weaken his hand at the G8 summit confronting Russia. Especially with the staunch ally Britain facing accusations of spying on G8 delegates in 2009.

    June 17, 2013 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  22. Jennifer

    Just reading the title of this article my first thought was "Nah... really?" I could only wish that everyone that voted for him suffers the consequences.. unfortunately, we ALL have to suffer because of others stubbornness, and ignorance.

    June 17, 2013 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  23. DsrtSnd520

    It seems like his ratings only dropped 2 points how is that a big huge drop?

    June 17, 2013 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  24. saywhat

    On NSA thwarting terror 'plots' . That is not being swallowed by experts as reported by Guardian. Even senators doubt that claim.

    June 17, 2013 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  25. Frank T

    Just a bunch of media Malarky as Ob approval rating dropped. I'M surprised OB wasn't blamed for the disaster on the building that collapsed in Bangladesh,where several hundred prople died.It looks like if you are the Presidenrt of the U.S you are going to be blamed for anything and everything that goes on in the world.It's got to be nice to be the most popular person on God's green earth.

    June 17, 2013 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
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