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. clem kadiddle

    hope and change yeah right sucker fooled ya never again will i donate or give money to a frickin politician

    June 17, 2013 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  2. larryjacks

    Hard to believe that anyone ever thought a politician – especially a career politician like Obama was honest! Harder to believe there are still people left that hasn't realized that most of Obama's promises were never sincere and that he is nothing more than a beltway insider who's in it for the $$ and power that come with it. Nobody gets that far in office without pandering to the Lobbyists. Nobody.

    June 17, 2013 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  3. The NSA Knows Who I am

    Why could this information not have been leaked a year ago during ELECTION season!! UGH. Speaking for the younger generation, we hate surveillance.

    June 17, 2013 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  4. Ken

    It's just another poll people Relax

    June 17, 2013 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  5. MJ

    "Half of the public says they don't believe he is honest and trustworthy."....and the other half don't care as long as they get their welfare check!

    June 17, 2013 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  6. el guapo

    45% rating in a CNN poll. Geez, imagine how bad it is in an impartial poll. Sorry Barry, your ineptitude and dishonesty have caught up to you.

    June 17, 2013 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  7. Chat recorder

    and now your comments against the government are now reccorded... ip address and evrything

    June 17, 2013 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  8. Mikey

    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."
    ******************************************************************************
    Wow. This would be terrible if anything you said was actually true.

    June 17, 2013 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  9. Shipoopi

    I fit into the under-30 demographic. Me and my friends are angry with Obama, not over the IRS/Tea Party thing, or the made-up Benghazi controversy manipulated by conservatives – no – we're angry over the NSA monitoring and the journalist record seizure, not to mention the fact Guantanamo is still open. Obama started out as someone we could trust, who promised that the policies under GW Bush would ALL be reversed and we'd be on a better path. Obama hasn't kept his word. I campaigned for him in 2012 and made sure to encourage people to re-elect him, but now I am starting to think we needed a true outsider. Obama will only regain trust if he scraps the NSA program, closes Guantanamo, ends the Patriot Act, and rejects all of the policies of the previous Bush administration. Nothing less will work. Unless someone is holding a weapon to Obama's head there is no reason for him to have betrayed the American people like this. Obama – you're really screwed up here. You could have become a hero to our generation. Now, you won't. Very disappointed.

    June 17, 2013 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  10. deee510

    We love Obama.CNN is using the same polls that told them Romney had a chance in hell lmao

    June 17, 2013 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  11. Mitch

    I submit that the one decision that has lowered President Obama's approval rating was not even considered in this CNN poll. That is his decision to get the U.S. involved in Syria's civil war. There are other matters that may have contributed to Obama's declining approval rating – his failure to close the unconstitutional torture chambers at Gitmo, his continuation of many policies of questionable constitutionality originated in the Bush/Cheney administration, his failure to end America's longest running war ( The war on drugs started by Nixon in 1971 ). And, most prominently, his failure to push to decriminalize marijuana. Prohibition did not work, because the people did not support it. The same thing holds true on the federal governments position on marijuana – the people do not support it.

    June 17, 2013 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  12. Dave

    "The TRUTHFIUL will recognize this now belongs to the CURRENT occupant of 1600 Penn. Ave."

    People who say this aren't being truthful. They are being partisans, passing the buck only now that THEIR SPYING PROGRAM has been exposed. We know you cheer leading the war on terrorism and the Patriot Act long before Obama was in office. Even Dick Cheney is attempting some cya. You are all transparent!

    June 17, 2013 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  13. Mike

    The people of the United States made this mess by voting him in....when there was enough data from the last four years to steer clear of this continuing disaster. People need to start becoming informed – before they vote!! Howard Stern took teams out onto the streets and most people did not even know who was running or what they stood for......some even thought Sarah Palin was still running???!!! The Low Information Diet must stop before this nation is destroyed!! I totally sick of watching Obama solicit Hollywood to endorse him and use that kind of public power to gain trust.....and shame on many in Hollywood for blindly endorsing him again – without doing homework!! The United States needed someone to balance the books – period!!! Shame on us for not being informed.

    June 17, 2013 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  14. richard from rancho cordova

    you know with all these stories i would really like to hear what he has to say about the dead ambasator, I.R.S, AP story, NSA guy and now the state dep thing. dude can you say something instead of just stone-walling. i voted for you the 1 st time and now i regret it if you dnt speak up for YOUR people in power. and dont give me he is cleaning up bush mess. he has had 5 yrs going on 6. when is now his fault as our man in charge? when hes done will it still be bushs fault? ps i didnt vote REP i voted for myself the last elec.

    June 17, 2013 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  15. Dave in Houston

    @Daisy Cutter: We must stand with our President to show our loyalty to him .

    Heil Obama!

    June 17, 2013 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  16. Ran the Man

    ok so the approval rating is down based on others failures....which goes back to what happens when your in the Boss Chair....RESPONSIBLE FOR ALL BUT IN CONTROL OF NOTHING!!!!

    June 17, 2013 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  17. tarura

    Approval ratings of our "greatest president ever" are dropping slightly from 47 to 37% amid controversies

    Controversies? Say SCANDALS to be closer to the truth

    It's amazing there is still 37% of misinformed, underinformed and brainwashed

    June 17, 2013 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  18. Deserttrek

    so barry boy's approval is dropping? maybe that means the brainwashed are starting to wake up.

    June 17, 2013 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  19. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Here are my two cents:
    The disrespect and complete lack of cooperation shown to THIS President has been unequalled in the annals of our nation's history.
    He has proved himself to be the hardest working, most trustworthy President that we've had in decades.
    The trust that the country has placed in him and continues to place in him is due in no small part to his relentless persecution by the GOPeeing Teatards and those that still call themselves Republicans. A witch-hunt which has netted ZERO results. NADA. ZILCH. Nothing that he has been accused of has been found to be true. On the contrary, they have been summarily and easily disproven.
    So I personally wish to thank the Republicans for further entrenching my faith in THIS President.
    And I would like to remind them that it was HIM we re-elected President in 2012 not THEM.

    June 17, 2013 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  20. richard from rancho cordova

    Hey Allens so dead americans, 1st 2nd and 4th rights given to us by our founding fathers being taken away for " being safe", i.r.s, ap, nsa taps that doesnt bother you? Nope only if it was bush right? "Those who give up freedom for safety deserve neither or none" Ben Franklin and i voted for mr pres the 1st time and myself the 2nd. i lost faith in him.

    June 17, 2013 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  21. Bob

    The public is finally starting to wake up now that the media can no longer cover up all the incompetence and criminal behavior of this administration. Guess those of us that opposed Obama were right all along....

    June 17, 2013 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  22. Nick

    The chickens are coming home to roost. This Prez never had anything going for him except for slick politics that made people think he knew what he was doing. Gotta get thru the next three and a half years somehow.

    June 17, 2013 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  23. cgs

    Duh... it was obvious he was shady and dishonest before the 2012 elections. Can't believe people voted for him any way. The naive were fooled by a pied piper.

    June 17, 2013 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  24. Paul

    Can we redo the election now that people realize what he's really like?

    June 17, 2013 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  25. JonQ

    There is more than one program collecting communications data, and 2 of them collect not just metadata,but content as well. And Obama care is not going to be affordable for the lower middle class. Both of these statements are based on articles I read in the last week.

    June 17, 2013 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
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