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. Gerald Wodkins

    The Government has been ignoring "Due Process" and Equal Protection" provisions of the Constitution for years. Supreme Court Justices can't read the very Constitution they have sworn an Oath to "Uphold and Defend" And all this Polling Data is just a smoke screen to protect the wannabe Tyrants we've put in office. Approval Ratings are irrelevant , The Government simply does not have the Constitutional Authority to do half of the things it has written "Laws" to give itself the Authority to do. Those "Laws" are unconstitutional as they "Amend" our Constitutional Rights without going through the "Constitutional" Process to do so. And the Only reason the government needs so much secrecy is to keep the people who know how to read from knowing what they're doing.

    June 17, 2013 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  2. Pete

    Republicans are hoping that Pres.Obama becomes a lame duck president for the rest of his term.But the problem is republicans don't have any viable candidates to run against anything democratic in Hillary,Biden or whoever..Pres.Obamas approval ratings can't compare to the miserable rating congress keeps piling up in recent polls now bordering on less than 10% and can you say failure on Capital Hill,I sure as hell can!!

    June 17, 2013 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  3. betty

    Obama is a liar and deserves to fall in every poll

    June 17, 2013 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  4. Bob

    A lot of us democrats/republiicans/independents have known just how corrupt Obama is since day one (and for the record, GWB, Clinton, and GWB Jr., too) Heck, just take a look at Obama's closest friends: Wright, for example. Look at Obama's unwillingless to end his birth certificate question, this, despite his claim of "transparancy," which was nothing but a campaign lie, unless, of course, he meant our lives being transparent to the US Government via spying and eavesdropping... I am 60+ years old, and have watched this once great country fight the evils of racism for 50+ years. Our nation made ENORMOUS progress towards that end, and it has ALL been wiped out by Obama, who is the most divisive President ever, and who uses it(racism, etc.) as a political tool to furthur his agenda. I could go on and on, but why, as I know that the damage has been done, and that our nation will most likely never recover...

    June 17, 2013 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  5. Rose Tyner

    Because he is not honest or trustworthy but incompetent as well he's ratings have dropped. They need to be even lower to reflect what a scoundrel he is. When he promised fundamental change he meant it but most of his worshipers don't want to believe it. Well just watch and see what will be happening.

    June 17, 2013 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  6. chrisdj614

    He's the same lying hack he's always been. Some more people are taking notice. Amazing what happens when the media actually does their jobs.

    June 17, 2013 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  7. Derrick Prejean

    All I can say is the people still approving of his pathetic doings need to wake up! But if you look further into your yes answers I'm sure you'll find the majoredy of them are free phone check getters. Anyone with jobs that he's costing money wouldn't approve. Plain and simple!

    June 17, 2013 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  8. xlbadger

    No love lost ... never started

    June 17, 2013 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  9. Awestruck

    Never had a doubt abouit it. Obama has always been a zero in my book. Now that is lies, scandals and frauid have been exposed, he has lost credibility with his block of mindless voters. Its a bout time this criminal is exposed.

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

    Obama exposed. Who is President Obama?....He said he was going to have the most transparent administration...instead he has the most closed. They can't tell the truth. Benghazi, IRS, DOJ and Eric Holder, AP and these are just a few! I'm tired of this administration of lies. It's congress job to keep check on the President and his administration...and if congress can't get the truth...Impeach. The Americian people deserve the truth. If we lie in a federal investigation...then we go to jail. Why shouldn't the President be treated the same.

    June 17, 2013 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  11. Matt

    No one is going to comment because they are scared someone will come knocking on their door....

    June 17, 2013 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  12. Laurie in Spokane

    Obama still has my support. It seems to be overlooked that he's had absolutely NO cooperation from Republicans during his presidency; actually they do all they can to thwart him. Case of cutting off your nose to spite your ugly face.
    You know, the President doesn't run the country. We all do in some manner and we let our elected Congress et away with doing nothing or impeding any progress – both parties.

    June 17, 2013 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  13. Anonymous

    I'm not surprised at all at the ratings Obama is getting.

    June 17, 2013 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  14. amysname

    Looks like CNN and the other "Cheer Leaders" in the Media, need to get to work!

    June 17, 2013 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  15. lottie

    gee I guess congress has nothing to do with this.

    June 17, 2013 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  16. SteveN

    He came preaching transparency and winds up spying on all Americans and using secret laws and secret courts to justify his actions. What is there to trust?

    June 17, 2013 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  17. woodlander2

    It has taken a long time for the blind to see, but the truth has set them free.

    June 17, 2013 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  18. Steve- Illinois

    The blinders are coming off one election too late.

    June 17, 2013 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  19. Constantine16621990

    Obama is the best president to step foot in White House in our countries history, GO OBAMA!!!!!!

    June 17, 2013 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  20. Doug

    What the hell is he still doing in office then? If half of the people don't approve. Impeach this scum of the earth.

    June 17, 2013 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  21. glorydays

    Thanks to his "whinny base".

    June 17, 2013 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  22. Constantine16621990

    Obama is best president we've ever had!!! GO OBAMA!!!!!:):)

    June 17, 2013 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  23. Dean

    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 the other half of the public are either deaf, dumb or blind or all three.

    June 17, 2013 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  24. darkstar_x

    Maybe if Obama provided a lot more transparency the numbers wouldn't be so bad. But the man can't seem to be bothered with telling the truth. He's still a shmuck.

    June 17, 2013 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  25. clem kadiddle

    I am a life long Democrat, and BO is not a true Democrat. He talks the talk but does'nt walk the walk. He is cut from the same material as all the other politicians. He won't even fight for the American people and just goes along with the status quo that has become Washington. I am very disappointed and saddened by him. If you think Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden will be any different, you must be permanently delusional from the Kool Aid. It is time to purge Washington of all the career politicians who have destroyed this Nation.

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