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. Doug

    Its a lot lower than 45%. Don't believe the pollsters.

    June 17, 2013 06:53 am at 6:53 am |
  2. thetruth

    Sorry Obonko, but we knew it from the start with the FAKE BIRTH CERTIFICATE! just another groomed and placed 33rd degree mason president whose vile and wicked ways have serpentined through not just Amerika, but the world. But alas, as drunk in your power as you remain, blindly under the assumption that you are the 'Prince-King', the people are finally beginning to see through the veil of deceit. The story title claims "Youve lost that Lovin' feeling" Sorry to break it to you....but we never had it for you to begin with. You were 'selected' not 'elected'. -I'm sure Henry Kissinger loves you, and of course, Hillary..but as you well know, they have thier reasons. So you are sliding in the polls huh? All the scandals catching up...as the people wake up..and time is running.......

    June 17, 2013 06:54 am at 6:54 am |
  3. Ed Fry

    Obama is the most dishonest and deceptive president the US has ever had to suffer. The sooner you get him out of the White House, the better (impeach, impeach, IMPEACH).

    June 17, 2013 06:54 am at 6:54 am |
  4. Shortyboy

    And 40% of republicans still believe he's a Kenyan born Muslim. Which proves Congressman Issa's investigation/witch hunt to discredit the president is working with the help of Fox/republican propaganda. But I bet those same people read about the Kardashians before reading anything else. Just like yesterday Dick Cheney was on Fox saying how well they were always prepared to stop the terrorists.

    June 17, 2013 06:56 am at 6:56 am |
  5. dx2718

    I wonder what would happen if you separated out the people that voted for him in the 2008 primaries versus those that didn't (both Republicans and Democrats). For those that were not impressed with him to begin with, have they been pleasantly surprised? And the people who are disappointed – are they the ones that foolishly believed the hype that Obama was some sort of "different kind of politician"?

    June 17, 2013 06:56 am at 6:56 am |
  6. BritHawk

    We still love him in Chicago. Of course we are well known for our love of snakes, skunks, rats, and gangster's.

    June 17, 2013 06:57 am at 6:57 am |
  7. Sam

    Finally CNN! You posted an article that is talking about what's REALLY happening in the US. I just hope we the people can realize this and stand up for our rights. We need to end this abuse of power and aim to become the best country in the world again because we sure as hell aren't anymore.

    June 17, 2013 06:57 am at 6:57 am |
  8. Don

    Why isn't CNN reporting NSA's tapping cell and email of 2009 G8 participates? (Actually listening in real time of our allies.)

    June 17, 2013 06:57 am at 6:57 am |
  9. keith

    I"M fed up with this whole administration on just about everything...and pretty sure they are fixing to change the topic with another military adventure to nowhere in Syria..stay tuned for more of the same!

    June 17, 2013 06:57 am at 6:57 am |
  10. Dennis

    How can this be? I thought Obama was "The Chosen One" and could do no wrong..He makes such wonderfull speeches.Maybe Americans are finally thinking for a change.

    June 17, 2013 06:58 am at 6:58 am |
  11. TiredODaCrap

    It may be the first time that half of the public will admit it, but more than half of the public has always felt this way. Amazing how far this guy has fallen – even in the eyes of those who were literally worshipping him just a few years back!

    June 17, 2013 06:59 am at 6:59 am |
  12. Retired USAF

    "Half of the public says they don't believe he is honest and trustworthy." Gee . . . imagine that !

    June 17, 2013 06:59 am at 6:59 am |
  13. Dawg

    Filthy Liar from before his election. I saw thru the lies. Most voters didn't. Too sad.

    June 17, 2013 07:00 am at 7:00 am |
  14. JAKE

    Looks like the sheeple are finally waking up.

    June 17, 2013 07:00 am at 7:00 am |
  15. Free Man in the Republic of Texas

    Did "I" TELL you that "I" AM.... just too AWESOME !!!

    PUBLIC UNIONS FOREVER
    Hope & Change
    Yes WE Can

    NOW...
    Let's ALL sing Hymn # 3
    What a friend WE have in The IRS

    June 17, 2013 07:01 am at 7:01 am |
  16. greg hart

    If he is lying to the people we need to look at Impeaching him!

    June 17, 2013 07:02 am at 7:02 am |
  17. opinion8it

    "A slight majority of those questioned in the poll, which was conducted Tuesday through Thursday of last week, disapprove..."
    .
    Ah, so we're talking about a 2 day CNN poll here. .. I was almost worried for a sec.

    June 17, 2013 07:02 am at 7:02 am |
  18. Middle Class

    When is he going to start helping the middle class workers? All he talks about now are non-citizens.

    June 17, 2013 07:04 am at 7:04 am |
  19. Fred

    So 45% of the people are still supporting the worst president ever? Isn't that about the percentage of people that don't pay any federal income tax and many get "earned income credits".

    June 17, 2013 07:04 am at 7:04 am |
  20. Kebos

    A politician is no better than any other. All turn out to be liars in the end because they are controlled by lobbies and special interest groups.

    June 17, 2013 07:05 am at 7:05 am |
  21. Republicans; the "Not Intended to be Factually Accurate" Party

    OK so Republicans MAY have succeded in keeping him off of the new $500 bill with all of these ginned up faux "scandals".

    However Barack Obama will still be President for the next 3.5 years and I have great expectations that immigration reform will get done and the deficit will continue to shrink. Maybe we can even get tax reform in.

    June 17, 2013 07:07 am at 7:07 am |
  22. trev

    im still glade he was president over john mccain... but honestly, he has been the worst president yet so far, with maybe the exception of lincoln (cuz duh, civil wars are the worst things that can happen to a country no matter who wins => i mean imagine if you had to fight your brother to the death right now => dosn't get any worse then that ). but honestly i was excited when i heard we had a black president => thinking wow, equality for all races/peoples/ect is really evolving in this time in history. however that may or may not be true... either way as soon as obama signed the NDAA I knew he was a fake... thats the moment i lost faith in him and ever since he has let us down time and again. the only thing surprising to me about this article is how long it took for the rest of you to catch on...

    June 17, 2013 07:07 am at 7:07 am |
  23. FlawidaJack

    The pendulum swings slowly, but surely.

    June 17, 2013 07:08 am at 7:08 am |
  24. mitsu

    Why? because he's carrying over Bush's decisions on Homeland Security? And this is why? It seems like the American People want our Borders open, and our underwear down so any and everyone who want to harm to us, CAN.

    June 17, 2013 07:08 am at 7:08 am |
  25. Paul

    Ok what kind of spin are we about to hear now? These are not true numbers or its just a slight drop? Looking like obama's items for the 2nd term might not happen. He has no political capital left to push anything through congress

    June 17, 2013 07:08 am at 7:08 am |
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