June 17th, 2013
06:00 AM ET
1 year 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. Ambro

    Should he lie us into a WAR and get an unknown number of people killed...Then I will feel he is untrustworthy.

    June 17, 2013 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  2. Democrcy is a farce

    Its sad that the American people refuse to wise up.

    June 17, 2013 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  3. annieL

    Yes, character assassination works! Of course the relentless attacks of Republicans on this president, duly elected by the majority of voters, will have an effect on our perceptions of him. We need to understand however that their attacks on him are attacks on us who voted for him. They lost the election but they want to deny us the things he promised us and what he stood for. There is more than one way to kill democracy if the ballots don't go your way and Republicans are doing everything they can think of to kill democracy.

    June 17, 2013 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  4. Patrick Connell

    Thank god the left has finally woken up. Vote third party in 2014 force the democratic party to stop ignoring the youth. Obama is finished anyway your crazy if you don't understand that. Only one GOP senate seat is really in play. Let's make sure next time they remember what's important to us.

    June 17, 2013 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  5. NameBonnie Stangland

    My support is as strong as ever. I do believe there is a lull in the excitement towards his administration, but do not believe this will last. The whole NSA controversy is a non-issue to me. Are we naive enough to think that this is something new? This is a new normal in a changing, dangerous world. People need to man up and get over it.

    June 17, 2013 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  6. Carrie

    All I can say is that I feel sorry for the next President Democrat or Republican to clean up after Obama and Bush's mess!! Hopefully they can but I will not hold my breath.

    June 17, 2013 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  7. wild man

    what a way to word it "..as controversies pile up" don't you mean as more rodsle understand the gravity of the scandals some of which are unconstitutional and down right illegal. unconstitutional laws are not laws and we the people will not abide by them

    June 17, 2013 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  8. insidejob666

    Deny me the freedoms granted under the first and fourth amendments and I will rise up as our founders guaranteed under actions of the second continental Congress declaring that any government which derives its power from the consent of the governed and subjects them to a long train of abuses and Usurpations...it is within the people’s right to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future Security. To prove this first they subject them to unreasonable search and seizure without writ or probable cause.....second they have erected a Multitude of new Offices to harass our People, and eat out their substance..third they have conspired to rig elections by gerrymandering districts of the population to continue their terms in a corrupt legislature....forth they rig elections by imposing harsh and unreasonable manners of identification at the polls....fifth they reward their reelection benefactors with legislation that disproportionately rewards them with exemptions from taxation...sixth they fabricate false reasons to wage war and rob them of their riches...seventh they enter into treaties with foreign nations who have subjugated their people to harsh rules and abuses and indemnify them richly for maintaining militias in the Region….

    June 17, 2013 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  9. Sniffit

    MSM gloats over its ability to control the POTUS's approval ratings. Story at 11.

    June 17, 2013 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  10. www.twitter.com/hlmelsaid

    Fall in confidence.

    June 17, 2013 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  11. Gregg

    @Suur Kurat: Its fine for you to have dissenting opinions, however your espoused view of the president as a "typical black street hustler" is extremely crude and frankly racist. When you're ready to have a discussion with the adults, we'll be here waiting – until then, keep your ignorance to yourself.

    June 17, 2013 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  12. kmac

    The Cons are going to be of the opinion that people are swinging to their side. NOT the case. Many libs unhappy that he is too conservative and that he bargains with the Cons. Syria and phone deal brings his numbers down their also. Down with this yellow dog for not presenting more stimulus programs and cut state involvement out. States can't be trusted on any matter.

    June 17, 2013 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  13. dc

    The same goes for a lot of Dems that put him there!

    June 17, 2013 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  14. dave

    Wow, who would ever believe that he would lie? After all he never did anything he said he would do in his initial election campaign and same in his second. Claims to help the middle class but nothing he does helps the middle class and lies consistently to the US public while over riding the US constitution every chance he can. Did anyone not read his book and not know he was not capitalist? How are people shocked by any of this?

    June 17, 2013 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  15. Michael

    These polls are ridiculous! 1000 people out of millions! Give me a break......

    June 17, 2013 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  16. Al Sanchez

    Thank God I didn't vote for this haircut passing off as the President! If Romney would have gotten in we would have already arrived to a better place . . . . .thanks stupid Dems and the like for voting in this puppet!

    June 17, 2013 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  17. Bill Davies

    I don't care for politicians as a whole. Do any of you think these "LEAKS" were coincidents at all??? NO WAY!!! These leaks are designed to help Republicans hold on to the house and win seats by trying to make President Obama the bad guy for whatever anyone does wrong, even if he does not have anything to do with the office in Cincinatti or the Embassy in Benghazi or any of the future convenient "LEAKS" that will come before the 2014 election. Its all part of the game. When he leaves office, people will like him more just like they did Clinton and Bush. Its all a game!

    June 17, 2013 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  18. Themoderatevoice

    Where is Candy Crowley when you need her

    June 17, 2013 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  19. Guest

    Oblabla is lost and unqualified. He's in way over his head and it has been a long time coming that some of the sheeple are even waking to the reality of his failed presidency. Impeachment is deserved.

    June 17, 2013 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  20. I'm a DEM,, well.

    at least he's done well with the economy.. As far as trusting him? I think the real issue has been with phone tapping.

    June 17, 2013 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  21. well

    Happening Right Now: Live Q&A With NSA Whistleblower, Edward Snowden

    Q2: How many sets of the documents you disclosed did you make, and how
    many different people have them? If anything happens to you, do they
    still exist?

    Snowden: All I can say right now is the US Government is not going to be able to
    cover this up by jailing or murdering me. Truth is coming, and it cannot
    be stopped.

    – Common Dreams, June 17, 2013

    June 17, 2013 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  22. BOB

    The sheep are beginning to stray.

    June 17, 2013 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  23. Daisy Cutter

    If CNN buys a Quinnapiac poll , Obama will gain at least 12 points !

    June 17, 2013 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  24. chuckt

    Oooh poor baby. I guess his lie's and his poor leadership skills are catching up. Blaming bush is starting to get old. He still has the race card he can continue to play. He can't even blame the Tea Party because he had the IRS do his dirty work for him. Obama care is starting to roll out and people are taking notice on how much of a failure that was. Fortunately for now we can at least grow the economy and innovate even with this bafoon in office.

    June 17, 2013 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  25. Mario

    8 points that's all. Who cares that's nothing.. grow up CNN

    June 17, 2013 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
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