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. Diogenes

    He opens the doors to illegals then says we must record calls of honest txaxpayers for security. He created the problem to get this invasive activity to find HIS enemies. Not yours!

    June 17, 2013 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  2. Frank

    It could be 0 and it wouldn't matter

    June 17, 2013 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  3. Rochester NY

    Juxtapose his numbers with those of the congressional GOP and get back to me.

    June 17, 2013 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  4. valwayne

    After the lies and cover up with Fast & Furious, Benghazi, the criminal conspiracy at the IRS, the attack on the 1st amendment and the Press at the Justice Department, the revelation that Obama has expanded Bush's programs into a vast, police state spy network aimed at all American citizins, and the latest cover up by Obama's regime of massive Sexual abuse at the State Dept with an the Inspectors General office being corrupted? How 49% of the public can find the most arrogant, dishonest, corrupt, inept, incompetent, and failed President in U.S.history to still be worth of trust is beyond me? Right now a lot of Republicans are defending Obama's police state spy network, but wait until we find out that he was using it like he used the IRS during last years reelection campaign? For those who say that's paranoid, that's what you calleld anyone who suggested the Obama regime would misuse government power at the IRS or Justice Dept. Yet it happened!

    June 17, 2013 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  5. jack

    An appropriate name for the incompetent Obama will be THE SNOOPY DOG. He knows nothing he hears nothing he does nothing but spending this countries wealth for his enjoyment.

    June 17, 2013 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  6. sayer

    People under 30 just learned the government is spying on us. Welcome kids. Newsflash: It doesn't matter who the president is. The government will always spy on us. So will your employer and law enforcement.

    June 17, 2013 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  7. muffintop

    This has been going on for years. We have just become more sophisticated because of technology. Oh yes, how long did it take us to identify the 911 bombers? Get over it people if you have nothing to hide. Big Brother is watching and we thank God for that!

    June 17, 2013 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  8. Jojo

    @archer – people like you are unbelievable. The snooping program under bush was limited in scope but expanded under Obama. The IRS scandal is probably the most worrisome of the scandals. Imagine using the most hated of American institutions to go after your enemies and maybe change the outcome of the last election. Benghazi is also bad. Lying to everyone in the country so you can when an election.

    June 17, 2013 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  9. just askin

    i wish we had a parlimentary system where we could call for a vote of no confidence. in another 3.5 years, this country may not be salvageable. the leftists have fundamentally transformed the greatest country that ever existed into a third world banana republic welfare state that spies on everybody and uses the government to attack its political opposition. hugo chavez would be so so proud of obama.

    June 17, 2013 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  10. Puke

    Why his ratings even top 10% are beyond me....

    June 17, 2013 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  11. steve

    keep blaming it on manufactured scandals libs. there is nothing manufactured about Obama's campaign promises to reverse government intrusion and surveillance. his pre-election rhetoric about gov spending and the evils of the P.A. were empty promises.

    June 17, 2013 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  12. RapidOne

    The Republican hate-machine is alive and strong. It's called propaganda for so many weak minds in this country doing what it is meant to do.

    June 17, 2013 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  13. Mr. Hand

    Looks like Mitt can adjust his number down to 45% now!

    June 17, 2013 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  14. tonyh110

    shame that so many Americans allowed themselves to be hoodwinked by this excuse for a President. He's completely polarized the nation – reneged on almost all of his policies. I believed he was a totally false 'stuffed shirt' when he hit the Presidential stage back in 2007-8. Sad it's taken this long for people to take their heads out of the Welfare trough and realize he's no different to any other Washington back stabbing eletist.

    June 17, 2013 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  15. Kevin

    Gotta love how one poster commented on the fact that just because you are against Obama, you are racist..Seriously bro, you need to stop making everything about race. I am not a white American and I dislike Obama. I hate the way this country is going and I would be happier if we had someone else in office. I dont care if they are white black asian latino indian..doesnt bother me...As long as they know how to be a leader and lead this country back into greatness.

    June 17, 2013 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  16. buffalo

    Most of these "scandals" manufactured from whole cloth by the GOP. Unable to come up with even a plausible candidate, much less any sort of a viable platform, the GOP has done ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to help anyone but themselves.

    June 17, 2013 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  17. jpm

    The fact that anyone on this page can say that any of these are GOP invented scandals is truly proof of how blind some people are. Are the deaths of 4 Americans in Benghazi made up? Ask their families. Did the administration lie about it. It has been proven. Wake up!

    June 17, 2013 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  18. Kevin

    I am glad that people are finally waking up and seeing what this guy is doing to this country. If he cant even take care of his brother in Kenya, how do you expect him to take care of this country? If you really want proof as to how you will end up, look no further than his brother!

    June 17, 2013 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  19. Jack Chun

    Remember who said that "let he who has not sinned cast the first stone"? Are we that trustworthy ourselves? Do we really know what is going on in order to pass such a judgement?
    Let's do it the American way, say it openly how are we betrayed! Are what we expect reasonable and doable?
    We must also define the basis of trustworthiness.
    What is our fear?

    June 17, 2013 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  20. B_Lebowski

    You left out Fast and Furious - selling weapons to Mexican drug cartels and then harping about gun control.

    June 17, 2013 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  21. bill

    By a show of hands, how many people think dubya is trustworthy?!? Oh that's right, about 30% as per dubya's own approval ratings.

    June 17, 2013 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  22. Namedaniellemosley

    Hello u did a good job

    June 17, 2013 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  23. Javier

    I'm still amazed by the sheer numbers that refuse to believe that this man and his administration is able to do no wrong. They claim nothing but witch hunts by racists but unfortunately it was only a matter of time before this administration's true ineptness was realized and showcased.

    June 17, 2013 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  24. Scotty

    Obama rating would skyrocket if he legalised pot! It would fix the economy and save a bunch of lives.

    June 17, 2013 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  25. nintex

    Of course this makes the Tea Party people really happy. Their constant negativity and nagging are bringing results, at last in the short term. But there are many, many, many of us who know President Obama is doing what is best for the citizens of this country and will back him as he goes forward for the next three years. You have to have some perspective, and see the big picture, to know that this country is going in the right direction. Unfortunately conservatives can't see beyond the end of their noses.

    June 17, 2013 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
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