June 17th, 2013
06:00 AM ET
10 months 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. raphael ruiz

    finally the poll #s for the president are down with all the hate that 1/3 of this country has for him and the rich who only got RICHER with obama in office but keep screwing the american people i say what else is expected. but he will just keep chucking and making this country of ours good for ALL americans. lets not also forget the media getting caught with there pants down on the leak.

    June 17, 2013 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  2. McGrüber

    News flash, it doesn't matter who the president is, this stuff has been happening for years, decades. As long as the people are willing to give up freedoms and privacy for the sake of safety, this will continue. The hard truth is that it's easier to spy on everyone and violate their rights than it is it innovate and come up with new solutions to minimize threats while maintaining the constitution. The problem is the original motivation aways gets used differently eventually. Just ask the Germans about that...

    I propose an interim solution. Inform anyone that their information was searched. Will it be 2 times a year? 20 times? 200 times? I think we have a right to know when our information is mined in an aggregated report, whether monthly or some other method. We have nothing to hide, apparently, so the gov't shouldn't have anything to hide as well. Unless they mine your data every 20 minutes because it's easier than doing real innovation.

    June 17, 2013 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  3. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    Just by looking at how many responses CNN is allowing on this post, can't you see whose pocket they're in. It surely isn't in the President's as conservatives make CNN out to be. They've morphed into a right wing news propaganda station.

    June 17, 2013 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  4. Sniffit

    OH NOES!! With numbers like that he'll never get re-elected!!!!

    YAWN.

    June 17, 2013 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  5. Sniffit

    If the GOP/Teatrolls think that their nontroversy manufacture is going to save them from their demographic Armageddon then I have but one thing to say to them:

    Please proceed, fools.

    June 17, 2013 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  6. Fair is Fair

    "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."
    --------
    Yup. It's because he's black. It has nothing to do with his utter incompetence.

    June 17, 2013 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  7. Dallas

    Hang in there Mr. President – even with your numbers slipping, the approval rating of Congress couldn't possibly go much lower. Compared to that Clown Car on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, you are a gold medal winner!

    June 17, 2013 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  8. Darlene Buckingham

    The truth always outs. That is why it is important to desire wisdom and live in truth and integrity. Now everyone knows that Obama is a dishonourable man. In the end who you really are is important. Live well strive to do better.

    June 17, 2013 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  9. tomasina

    Less than 10% think he is trustworthy. He is finally being seen for what he has always been.

    June 17, 2013 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  10. scott

    The shocking revelation in this news article is that half of Americans still find this president to be honest and trustworthy. How many scandals and lies does it take to shake your very unhealthy and blind allegiance to this president?

    June 17, 2013 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  11. larry bud

    it looks like about 45% of the people inh this could absolutely not care less how much corruption is surging through our political system.....i am sure a lot of these same people are not that bright to begin with or this guy would have never won the election.....if you can even rely upon the reults of an election he is involved with!

    June 17, 2013 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  12. Lucille

    All garbage. The mainstream media has stopped reporting the news and started creating it. They sensationalize any negative thing that is said about this President. These manufactured "scandals" is just an attempt to smear a good man's name and his Presidency. When the radical GOP couldn't make good on their attempt to make him a "one-term president" they've made their goal to ruin his Presidential legacy! Report factual news and leave it to the people to draw their own conclusions!

    June 17, 2013 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  13. Sniffit

    "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."

    LOL! All you goofs who think Obama's ratings are somehow permanently determined by this poll crack me up. He could be back up near 60% approval within a month or two. Yes, the public is THAT fickle. Moreover, this is ONE poll...from an outfit that was near the bottom of the heap in terms of accuracy during the 2012 election...other places (some that were higher on the list of accuracy) aren't showing this much fluctuation in his numbers.

    Gloat all you want. We certainly will when we get to look at your faces while you try to wrap your lips around saying "President Clinton" again for another 8 years.

    June 17, 2013 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  14. ronjayaz

    The pix shows a really troubled man. The handcuffs Congress has put on him and now this truly ugly scandal of the gross snooping on citizens doesnt herald a good 2nd term. Nothing is going right or should I say left!

    June 17, 2013 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  15. martino

    bout time America woke up

    June 17, 2013 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  16. Rosemarie O

    I find that the treatment of this President to be shameful and racist. NEVER as the right shown respect for the Office much less the Man. How dare they disrespect the Office of the President when it is not theirs. What about all the lie Bush & Cheney told everyone? Do they not count? Being President is not easy when things are good but when everything around the country is divided, falling apart, and there is no cooperation anywhere what does one do? You try and work with what you got and right now there is nothing but hearing where nothing but lies are presented and then the Office of the Presidency is expected to defend every single one. I think not, if we are intelligent people I think we can think thing through for ourselves and see that the Right has a HUGE agenda, like destroying a man who has tried to show the world and us a new way of dealing with things. No rush to war to spend Billions we don't have and had not been Budgeted for. Not to mention the Billions stolen by foreign governments under the past President that as not been deemed a crime ever. Why??? Is that not dishonest to say we are trying to save a country that we spent Trillions of dollars in and gained nothing. Please Is that not the kettle black or wait that is the problem, the President IS Black and that seems to be his biggest problem according to the racists that want to destroy this country. It is 2013 and time to see the "times they are a changing". Get with the program or get out of office because you are holding the country back from moving in new directions that are long overdue. Keep the faith Mr.President there are people still behind you but wish you had stronger people around that you are willing to help you deal with your critics. Find someone strong to believe in and come out fighting.

    June 17, 2013 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  17. BRB

    I am a supporter of The President, but he really blew this call about the telephone tapping of every citizen through Vorizon and other means. Large scale tapping, examining, and storing personal data is far too much "big brother" for me. Having his retired military staffers support and try to debunk this methodology was a huge mistake for the president. Watching the retired admirals and generals try to convince me on television that everything is fine, don't worry, blah, blah, blah is sickening in the deepest part of my gut. If Obama wants to become a two faced liar and puppet of the right wing, I will not support anything else on his agenda. Like the Who said – "Won't get fooled again".

    June 17, 2013 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  18. Joe

    Worst president in American history

    June 17, 2013 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  19. deee510

    We love president Obama and his family.these racist don't have Obama's fingerprints on any scandals lmao

    June 17, 2013 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  20. Sniffit

    "Like the Who said – "Won't get fooled again"."

    And yet you have been, because all of that "tapping" occurred under Bush, so your apparent belief that this is somehow Obama's fault and something new indicates that you got fooled the first time.

    June 17, 2013 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  21. Greg

    Well, I"m still proud that I voted for Hillary in both the '08 and '12 elections (as a write-in). Would she have done a better job? Who knows. But what I do know is I have no guilt about my vote!

    June 17, 2013 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  22. Robin Jones

    Less than a month ago, many comments were touting Obama's approval numbers as proof, by some strange logic, that the IRS scandal simply did not exist. By that same logic, it is now conclusively proven that Obama directly supervised political targeting by the IRS. Polls can never be wrong, can they?

    June 17, 2013 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  23. Stephen

    Conservatives will blame the sun's rising in the East on this president. Fact is, the American public is being duped. All of our focus is on the politicians when in fact , the politicians are being manipulated by private interests. It is private interests who own the media (communications monopolies thanks to the Bush era). They own the farms, the pharmaceuticals, the banks and more. They have us plain folks distrusting and fighting one another over what amounts to total distractions ... distractions from what they are really doing ... building their monopolies so that they can control your life, while telling you just how bad the government is. While the government is not perfect, ours is THE most perfect in human history. The alternative will be control, death, disease, and greed. The "cream" will rise to the top, and tens of millions will be lift to die.

    June 17, 2013 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  24. it must be said

    Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes
    Just by looking at how many responses CNN is allowing on this post, can't you see whose pocket they're in. It surely isn't in the President's as conservatives make CNN out to be. They've morphed into a right wing news propaganda station.
    ---

    no, not really, just letting all of the conservative posts come through instead of censoring them to make it appear the leftists are in the majority. you know, viewpoint suppression, just like obama was doing with the irs.

    June 17, 2013 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  25. ottomedic51

    It amazes me on how short Republicans' memories are!!! All of the snooping programs were started by W. Bush after he LIED to get what ever he wanted after 9/11!! Funny how you Repubs have selective memory!! Unless it's one of their is in office!

    June 17, 2013 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
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