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. Jan

    Actually, his approval rating has been hovering at or below 50% for weeks. CNN is just now getting around to admitting it. Anyone out there surprised??

    June 17, 2013 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  2. America Above Parties

    Are we so ignorant to be swayed by GOP/TP whose relentless pursuit of 24/7 OBAMA bashing is paying them dividents. For once, for the sake of our beloved country, stand behind our POTUS and emphasize on economy improvement instead of falling for stupid made up stuff by like of GOP thugs.

    June 17, 2013 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  3. oreo

    The man is a fraud! There is no difference between modern D and Rs - there is only one major party.

    June 17, 2013 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  4. dlb19595

    I have absolutely no faith in our President. He lied during his campaign, the IRS scandal and now spying on American's eventhough the spying is a computer generated program. AND why on earth are we sending weapons to the rebels in Syria when NO other country approves is beyond me. It is pretty obvious he has his own set agenda and doesn't care what other's think, it's wrong, completely wrong!

    June 17, 2013 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  5. dem2016

    Still one of the BEST presidents since Clinton. Too many idiots out there falling for the GOP faux news over-hyping and how QUICKLY americans forgot the lies that lead up to Iraq!

    June 17, 2013 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  6. mork

    Lessons learned:
    1. A Silver tongue does not a good president make.
    2. Executive experience is a must for the presidency.
    3. Back room deals do not work.
    4. Chaffing congress does not work.

    June 17, 2013 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  7. SuperD

    Here's part of the problem right here:

    Moonraker

    Isn't it amazing how fickle people are? WE have one of the most intelligent individuals in decades in the White House and people are already forgetting all the damage the GOP has caused our society.

    For gawd sakes, you actually believe the BS on Obama being intelligent, he's not you idiot! He's corrupt and incompetant, and the cherry on top is the Bush Derangement Syndrome!

    After 5+ years, some people are so thick headed and refuse to see the obvious!

    June 17, 2013 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  8. Ron

    Just who in the White House is this intelligent being, Bo? When there is a difficult decision to be made, Prez Zero goes golfing or on vacation

    June 17, 2013 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  9. Leah

    Way to create your own 'news'......Take a worthless poll dead in the middle of summer on land lines.

    THEN, to be followed up by a historically better gauge about 2-3 months later at the very beginning of fall.....suddenly his #s go up dramatically.....seemingly out of thin air.

    CNN - we do realize that summer polls are basically worthless. Get some real journalists.

    June 17, 2013 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  10. scarface0040

    Of course his approval rating is going down the drain. If you look at what he said back in 2008 to get elected and then look at what he has actually done, you will see that he is nothing more than a traitorous corporate liar. Now he is giving Al Qaeda terrorists in Syria assault rifles. But we have to have the NSA spy on you so we can get the Terrorists right?

    June 17, 2013 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  11. Carly

    Hannity's ratings must be up, all these posts are his talking points. So sad. Americans used to think for themselves, Now so many are Fox disciples. This too will eventually change.

    June 17, 2013 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  12. Scott

    And let me guess. All those who disapprove of Obama are racists. Might as well toss out that tired nonsense one more time.

    June 17, 2013 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  13. Daisy Cutter

    I thought Obama still had control of the media ?

    June 17, 2013 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  14. seadawg2

    It always amazes me that people want smaller government. This is a huge country and it takes a lot to run it. Get a clue. What I do have a problem is with the contentious political environment that closes off any potential solution because of rigid positions. Thirty years ago differences were negotiated to a decent settlement that moved the country forward – not any more. As for the hype around Benghazi, IRS and Leaks, crap happens. I am not happy about big brother and the Stasi approach. The 1978 process should be reinstated and oversight brought back. It is running amuck.

    June 17, 2013 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  15. swenk

    This poll will be news for like 5 seconds before the "gestapo" gets it removed

    June 17, 2013 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  16. Bubba Ray

    As bad as Obama is, he is still far better than any Republicon alternative.

    June 17, 2013 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  17. Dave's Not Here

    But I was assured by about a hundred internet commenters the week after the scandal trifecta that the polls proved that all these Republican-hyped scandals didn't affect Obama's standing with the American people.

    June 17, 2013 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  18. suur kurat

    i never has a "thrill" for this black street hustler who had the gift of conning white liberals.

    June 17, 2013 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  19. ObjectiveGuy

    The half that just now figured out that Obama is not trustworthy is what the half of us who have know this for the past 7 years call "slow learners". Welcome to reality.

    June 17, 2013 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  20. independant jim

    His approval rating is still higher than the lying cheating mud slinging do nothing republicans in congress the sheep dip wallowing bigots and hate mongers that republican's elect to do nothing but oppose the president

    June 17, 2013 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  21. Monomachos

    Mr Obama is proving himself to be a likable and charismatic person who in the words of Bill Clinton "does not know how to be president." He was elected and reflected in part because of his personal attributes and in part because he promised what people wanted to hear. We elected him because of those inspiring words and ignored the fact that he had virtually no experience to demonstrate that he would be capable of actually taking on the most important job in the world. Now the majority of people are finally seeing that being charismatic and nice speeches do not equate to being a good president.

    June 17, 2013 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  22. Sunny

    Gees.... No one ever asks me, or any friends of mine, to be a part of one of these polls... Just who does get asked?
    I think President Obama is doing the best he can, honestly, with a VERY screwed up Congress and a lot of rage flowing in many areas of the country. Ie. a time of change which generally creates upheaval before positive growth.
    In recent months... even for a year or so... I barely watch CNN. Don Lemon and Fareed Zakaria are great.

    June 17, 2013 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  23. TruthwillPrevail

    These poll numbers are provided from the vast MEDIA that is PRO – OBAMA....imagine what the REAL NUMBERS look like....can he still get away with the DISASTERS he has called by blaming BUSH.......people wake up !!! we need to fire all these fools...put term limits in the Senate, Congress and any government job...these are the REAL FAT CATS we have to be worried about...spending...abusing all of us....at our own expense...YES we pay the SALARIES of these FOOLS!!!

    June 17, 2013 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  24. Michael J.

    Nooooooooooooo, really? Another politician who has not told the truth, who has (even) lied . . . agggggggggh! What a surprise!?

    June 17, 2013 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  25. jrm03063

    So what? Shouldn't we look at this in the context of levels of trust of other institutions? Like Congress?

    June 17, 2013 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
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