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. Susan

    All the reps have done is try and destroy President Obama in any way shape or form...but have people forgotten the Bush era so quickly? They knew the 911 planned attacks were coming and yet said nothing to warn Americans, launched a war where no weapons of mass destruction was found, killing many innocent people, Katrina...well if you're not informed about that, you're out of touch anyway. For me, I have nothing to hide, so if monitoring is saving lives, then do it...but of course those of you who don't want that have more than likely never been in a terrorist planned bombing..perhaps if it was happening alllllll the time you would thennnn ask our government to do what is necessary. I would rather be PROACTIVE than REACTIVE.

    June 17, 2013 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  2. Dan

    Maybe the folks are finally wising up to what a liar and a charlatan obama is. Benghazi, IRS, and all the other scandals are coming home t roost and I thought the American people were stupid.

    June 17, 2013 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  3. jim g

    he is just another president in a long line answering to wall street, big pharma, oil companies, the health insurance lobby, etc. just a puppet. welcome to the united police states of america.

    June 17, 2013 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  4. Bronco Bomma

    The Obama Administration is more corrupt than George W. Bush's Administration ever was. Instead of having a transparent government and change from Bush's terrible policies he has embraced them and taken those policies to the next level. It's a joke and embarrassment he was given the Nobel Peace Prize.

    June 17, 2013 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  5. Trip

    When the Obama family goes on that 60 to 100 million dollar vacation to Africa, he ratings will be -0%.

    June 17, 2013 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  6. Dean

    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 the other half are either blind, deaf or dumb. Or all three.

    June 17, 2013 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  7. N&W 1000

    HERE Is what Obama MUST DO NOW to get his TRUST numbers back up where they belong:

    1. Authorize the IRS to take out his domestic political opposition, via Audits, investigations, thuggery, denied applications, etc...

    2. Go on TV and say the Benghazi Massacre was due to a video; keep saying it, this will up him by 10 points over night.

    3. Authorize the NSA, the CIA, and the FBI to sift through, snoop, confiscate, and read EVERY phone call and email in America.

    4. Go on TV and say he did not know a Damned thing about any of it, and swear he will roll the heads of those responsible.

    5. Dress up like Sergeant Schultz of Hogan's Heroes, and say "I KNOW NOTHING, NOTHING!"

    June 17, 2013 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  8. Anonymous

    Obama has been a major disappointment. I am sorry I voted for the man twice. Yes, I drank the Koolaid the first time. Last year I should have followed my better judgment and voted for the Green candidate for president. I don't believe his explanations anymore. Spying on American citizens has nothing to do with national security. Cock and bull of the first order.Both political parties blow.

    June 17, 2013 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  9. Mark Thayne

    Wow, I'm shocked as is so many million other Americans out there. It is extremely difficult to find anything that this Administration has done in 4+ years now. He's got 3 agendas on the table, and has made zero headway with them. Of course, every Barack supporter out there will just through it back at the Republicans as their fault, simply because it is so easy to make everyone else the scapegoat. Lets push that dam immigration law through already without any stipulation to it so we have another multimillion population as uninformed voters. Being in government contracting, and helping small business grow for the last two decades, I'm so excited about our future now, especially for my young kids (by the way, that would be sarcasm for all you people out there that don't get it.)

    June 17, 2013 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  10. Poodlepuff

    I really don't care about approval ratings. I do care about nothing getting done in Washington despite the huge taxes we pay.

    June 17, 2013 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  11. SM

    BO – you better go dude, people will like you for that... probably the govt is too spineless to impeach you...

    June 17, 2013 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  12. Dean

    Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Say, are these the same people that polled the ENTIRE country and told us that Romney had the 2012 election in the bag?
    Polls are GREAT aren't they?!!
    Keep on polling.... Obama is STILL the President.
    Get over it
    -----------Too bad Obama STILL does not act like a president. The whole country is going to be a long time getting over Obama and the mess he is making.

    June 17, 2013 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  13. mitchgam

    Given that the election is over and he is ineligible to run for President again, why would he even care about the weekly ups and downs of his approval ratings?

    Nobody cared when they went up, but let them drop and everybody who opposed him from the start seems all excited.

    Next week or next monty they will be up yet again, the public like the poll makers are fickle.

    June 17, 2013 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  14. Spririt2TT

    Wow, I'm shocked as is so many million other Americans out there. It is extremely difficult to find anything that this Administration has done in 4+ years now. He's got 3 agendas on the table, and has made zero headway with them. Of course, every Barack supporter out there will just throw it back at the Republicans as their fault, simply because it is so easy to make everyone else the scapegoat. Lets push that dam immigration law through already without any stipulation to it so we have another multimillion population as uninformed voters. Being in government contracting, and helping small business grow for the last two decades, I'm so excited about our future now, especially for my young kids (by the way, that would be sarcasm for all you people out there that don't get it.)

    June 17, 2013 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  15. crimsoninok

    finally, Over half the country are admitting that this man is a joke and a liar.

    June 17, 2013 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  16. PK

    All of you who think he is the first, all you have to do is start with Nixon and bypass Carter to Bush W and you could probably include Cheney who found a fall guy but the buck stopped at Bush W. The only thing first about this man is he is Black and I see a lot of bigotry here. But then no one has been taught history for years and no one has learned from history otherwise it is bound to repeat itself.

    June 17, 2013 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  17. Snowden's pet phoenix

    "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."

    Americans want to prosecute a guy for telling them the government is spying on them while at the same, angry at the government for spying on them? Have Americans finally lost it or is this the media pumping out bogus polls to sway public opinion? I can't believe I'm saying this, but I wish the Bush administration was still in power; maybe, just maybe, there would be more public and media outrage at the NSA.

    June 17, 2013 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  18. Siesta Beach

    We are not the worlds police department. Do not send troops to the middle east. The people that we are supposedly defending hate our guts. Why do we care about Syria? Iraq? Afanganistan? North Korea? Isreal? Mexico? We should stay out of their business and try to take care of the people who are American citizens. The Pentagon is a greedy war monger trying to spend every dollar that we pay in taxes. The Republicans are a do nothing group and the Democrates sit back and watch while our country goes bankrupt.

    June 17, 2013 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  19. LarryT

    I am a conservative, so I didn't vote for Obama. But, he is MY PRESIDENT. I do respect the office. It is a shame that our president has tried to use his power to turn this once strong Republic into a Democracy. Young people, go google that one since they didn't teach you about it in school. They don't want a true democracy, just a front organization "Democracy" to be run by the in-club of the "other" 1%. Anybody remember, "all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others". So much for the "grand" idea. Next.

    June 17, 2013 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  20. Patrick

    It's hardly a surprise that his approval ratings are down. He still has not made a convincing argument for why the government is spying on average citizens. I voted for him twice, which given the alternatives in both elections, seemed the only sensible thing to do. I should have followed my better instincts and voted third party. He's like all the others who preceeded him.

    June 17, 2013 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  21. dj

    It's not the 55% that disaprove of Obama but, the 45% that still aprove you have to wonder about.
    With all of corruption, cover ups, failed policies, terrible economy, and utter failure of the Obama administration you have to wonder what planet these people are on. Most don't have a clue about current events and continue to drink the Obama/Clinton koolaide no matter how bad they have destroyed this country.
    They are all complete idiots...

    June 17, 2013 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  22. boo

    I didn't vote for him.

    June 17, 2013 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  23. LibtardFantasy

    I never trusted him to begin with. Finally some of the left is waking up after all these scandals. He's just a lying campaigner with Socialist ideas. He has no respect for traditional American values or the Constitution and has shown that he has no interest in an open or truthful government. Obamacare and other liberal social programs will bankrupt this country.

    June 17, 2013 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  24. LookNClick

    It seems like only sex related scandals cause politicians to resign nowdays...

    June 17, 2013 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  25. Mike

    Leave the Bush vs Obama mud-slinging out for one second. The most alarming thing about this article is that more than half of Americans and the media actually see Snowden as a villain? Why, because he's making President Obama look bad? Perhaps they actually support this invasion of privacy started under Bush in the name of security? Oh god, R.I.P. America.

    I would move but I heard Europe is even worse when it comes to privacy. Maybe I'll join Snowden in Hong Kong.

    June 17, 2013 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
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