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. yogi

    A drop in the ratings for the President is all the righties need to come out in full force here to show their hate for him, which is largely based on the color of his skin.
    Ignorance in the USA is an epidemic disease, and the additional brainwashing by Fox only adds to the problem. The intelligent and educated electorate knows better and they will show this with their votes at the next elections. The fake outrage of the Republicans about the recent "scandals" is being used to cover the accomplishments of this administration. The only thing the Republicans have accomplished is obstruction at every democratic proposal.
    Even with the immigration law the republicans in the House will show their true colors, the law will either die there or will be completely watered down. Oh yes, the Republican outreach is so sincere.

    June 17, 2013 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  2. Carol

    The polls show us, at least, 8% of the American public might have paranoid tendencies.

    June 17, 2013 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  3. tpaine1

    Can one Democrat tell me a single Bill of Rights that Obama or his minions haven't violated. You can't because he's got lawsuits against him on EVERY single one.
    Thank you Democrat Party for showing us the face of American Fascism.
    Might makes right. No consequences.

    June 17, 2013 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  4. Anonymous

    your polling is as bad as your programming.

    June 17, 2013 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  5. Get Real

    This poll is MEANINGLESS, Barack H. Obama will be in office the next 3.5 years.

    June 17, 2013 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  6. deee510

    We love you big chief.we know these hateful racist have been waiting for you to fail.they're drooling hoping for a scandal they can link you too.but you know better.God bless Obama

    June 17, 2013 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  7. Rick

    Where are the damn polls? I didn't get to vote! DOWN WITH OBAMA IMPEACH!!! ARREST ALL THE BIG BANKERS!!!! ARREST MAINSTREAM MEDIA JEWS!!!!

    June 17, 2013 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  8. Donna

    OMGosh...and this is a surprise ? The man is ruining our Country and finally his ratings are dropping? About time Americans woke up. I am curious how many years after you take office can you continue to blame everything on Bush ? He is ruining our health care. Our e-mail and phone calls are now recorded. He has lied about everything to us. If you watch YouTube "I am a Muslim" there is our fine President stating he is a muslim, pictures of his birth certificate with his birth name stating he was born in Indonesia. No record of him ever becoming a US citizen. I guess I should stop now before the NSA tells him everything I have said here and I have to watch out for a drone. He NEVER should have been elected !!!

    June 17, 2013 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  9. Jim Letellier

    All this really shows is the the republican scandle machine is running all out and the Conservative Supreme Court has done all it could to make sure it happens with letting politcal entities have free reign.

    And the lemmings racist or ignorant follow the bread crumb trail.

    June 17, 2013 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  10. joe

    Most of the smart ones knew he was in over his head. He is an abysmal failure for a president and those who took the cool-aid and voted for this clown should be ashamed of themselves.

    June 17, 2013 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  11. Cal

    "Fifty-one percent say the current NSA program to gather phone records is the right thing to do." -according to a poll conducted for CNN by ORC International with 1,014 adults questioned by telephone.

    Ah. I was wondering exactly how they got about 50% to go along with this, but that somewhat explains it.

    June 17, 2013 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  12. Alex

    hey now, he's still going to be a great idol judge in a few years!

    June 17, 2013 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  13. steve

    aww shucks... heavy is the head that wears the crown.

    June 17, 2013 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  14. well

    Happening Right Now: Snowden answers your questions at the Guardian site:

    Q by Spencer Ackerman: Edward, there is rampant speculation, outpacing facts, that you have or will provide classified US information to the Chinese or other
    governments in exchange for asylum. Have/will you?

    A by Snowden:This is a predictable smear that I anticipated before going public, as
    the US media has a knee-jerk "RED CHINA!" reaction to anything involving
    HK or the PRC, and is intended to distract from the issue of US
    government misconduct. Ask yourself: if I were a Chinese spy, why
    wouldn't I have flown directly into Beijing? I could be living in a
    palace petting a phoenix by now.

    June 17, 2013 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  15. Costica Sandu

    45% is not to bad. For what he did and he does can be 38-40 %

    June 17, 2013 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  16. apfelsine

    Obama has only himself to blame. So many promises he made. So many hopes he awoke. But the bottom line is he let us down. He failed, and I sure have no sympathy left for him.

    June 17, 2013 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  17. Joe NYer

    This is no longer "GOP, get over it". It's become harder for the left to get over-and get PAST- this. This administration has been intrusive, obstructive, contemptible and utterly incompetent. We're ALL in the soup now and history will not judge these years favorably.

    June 17, 2013 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  18. Steve S

    You cannot do domestic spying on American citizens, and expect to have your domestic approval ratings NOT decline??

    June 17, 2013 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  19. DustyOnes

    If CNN has him at 45% the real number must be 25%

    June 17, 2013 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  20. Jim

    Its still 45 % too high.

    June 17, 2013 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  21. W James

    It amazes me how many kook aid drinkers there are there. They believe anything this man says. If it had been a republican and all this was happening they would be calling for his head. Since it's not, it's republicans fault for making an issue out of the wrong doings of his administration. And if you beleive he did not know you are more out of touch than he is.

    June 17, 2013 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  22. nnnnnn

    It takes the low information segment of the populace a long time to catch up.

    June 17, 2013 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  23. Wes

    And 45% of the people actually think this idiot is doing a good job. Amazing.

    June 17, 2013 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  24. OhdumbASS

    wait, there are people who approve of Obama? Who are they? cuz I would like to talk to them about a great investment opportunity on the Moon!

    June 17, 2013 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  25. Leah

    Summer polls on land lines = Worthless

    Always has been.

    June 17, 2013 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
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