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. evan

    Mid-summer CNN poll on via land lines.........What kind of #s would they get?

    June 17, 2013 07:08 am at 7:08 am |
  2. Dave

    Why should Obama care? He has run his last race. He will retire a very rich, young man. He will never have to work a day in his life and will be lavished with the perks that only royalty can get. Obama can now afford to act according to his own internal compass and yardstick of what is right and what is wrong.

    June 17, 2013 07:08 am at 7:08 am |
  3. Larry

    Is this type of Socialist/Communist behavior a surprise to some? You were all good little Nazi's when you blindly voted for him. Now you are surprised ?

    June 17, 2013 07:09 am at 7:09 am |
  4. Dona Lea-Johnson

    I voted for Obama twice, this term he is doing exactly everything that I didn't vote for the other side for. Medicare vouchers, stealing more money from the elderly on social security. Didn't he say he wouldn't do these things. He is in Monsanto's pocket. GMO's should be outlawed, not hidden. And sending drones to spy on our own people in their own country, watching our phone calls and our internet. I am astonished everyday at how rapidly he is removing our last little bits of freedom. When I read how his plan on stealing (not cutting call it what it is) the social security money, making it where you get less the older you are, The 85 yr olds need the money the most. Nice way of committing genocide with out calling it such. Disgusted and ashamed.

    June 17, 2013 07:10 am at 7:10 am |
  5. Oklahoma

    your going down boy!

    June 17, 2013 07:11 am at 7:11 am |
  6. Harvty

    It would have dropped sooner and more drastically if news outlets such as CNN didn't spend so much time protecting him.

    June 17, 2013 07:11 am at 7:11 am |
  7. Gurgyl

    GOP drama–how about congress rating?????

    June 17, 2013 07:11 am at 7:11 am |
  8. t

    I've been a lifelong Democrat and a fierce Obama supporter. But when I learned that he supported and knew about the NSA spying on all o f us, I have been bitterly disappointed.. Perhaps I am naive, but I now fear that power does indeed corrupt, and I would do well to be wary of our overly powerful government. It is supposed to serve us, but instead we are mere subjects to those in power.

    June 17, 2013 07:12 am at 7:12 am |
  9. j

    no, its the first time ACCORDING TO A CNN POLL!

    June 17, 2013 07:12 am at 7:12 am |
  10. diana

    It took much longer than I anticipated but thank goodness those who put this nut case back in office are finally coming to the realization that the rest of us already had. But to bad for those 47-percenters now, you poo pooed in your nest and now you get to lay in it. Rest well with what you've done.

    June 17, 2013 07:13 am at 7:13 am |
  11. Reality

    I don't necessarily find that encouraging. It means that 45% of the population is still either delusional or not paying attention.

    June 17, 2013 07:13 am at 7:13 am |
  12. Johnny DC

    It's Bush's fault he's not trustworthy. It's Bush's fault he wasn't prepared for the job he has.

    June 17, 2013 07:14 am at 7:14 am |
  13. Michael

    You can't decry the Bush administration for spying on Americans and then turn around and do the same thing !!

    June 17, 2013 07:15 am at 7:15 am |
  14. GRANDMAOF3

    I know I do not agree with at all..did not vote for him at all..

    June 17, 2013 07:15 am at 7:15 am |
  15. tdsd

    Obama really looks more and more like the Grim Reaper.

    June 17, 2013 07:16 am at 7:16 am |
  16. fayray11x

    poll numbers low. GOP – mission accomplished. just a day late and dollar short. the election was last Nov.

    June 17, 2013 07:16 am at 7:16 am |
  17. Steve Garry

    Of course obama's approval ratings are down! Now even his worshipers have discovered he is an incompetent lier.
    If it weren't for people like Melowese Richardson of Cincinnati Ohio that bragged to a TV news person that she voted twice, which later Cincinnati election officials discovered she actually voted 6 times under 6 different names all registered at her home address he would have never won the first time. Google her name and the election results and you will find, obama only won the states with NO VOTER ID!

    June 17, 2013 07:18 am at 7:18 am |
  18. retnavychief

    Half the American people need to move somewhere else and it's not the ones who still like him.

    June 17, 2013 07:18 am at 7:18 am |
  19. wny

    Things that have been going on for years behind close doors and in secret is now bad under Obama. Quite clear this is a GOP tactic to make Obama look bad. Birth certificate and everything else failed, lets try something new. Sad part is that America is falling for it.

    June 17, 2013 07:19 am at 7:19 am |
  20. USMC_Ech110

    Doesn't take rocket scientist to figure this one out!

    June 17, 2013 07:20 am at 7:20 am |
  21. LiberalsAreTraitors

    Obama's base consists of the following groups:

    Blacks who want welfare and racial preferences, Hispanics who want welfare, racial preferences, and amnesty for everyone with brown skin, limp wristed homosexuals who want their deviant lifestyle validated by society, single women who want society to pay for their birth control pills and abortions, union thugs who want to legally extort as much as possible from the taxpayers, "reform" Jews who hate Christianity more than they care about their own religion, jihadist Muslims who take advantage of the left's idea of universalism (even for people who want to kill them), and finally, disingenuous white liberals who use the others as pawns to gain power.

    June 17, 2013 07:20 am at 7:20 am |
  22. The fact of the matter

    "... a dramatic 17-point decline over the past month among people under 30... " The young, the naive, the disillusioned. No hope, and change is for the worse.

    June 17, 2013 07:20 am at 7:20 am |
  23. Hugh_Mann

    too much on his plate, and too many people imagine that he has the power to change things ( indeed, everything )

    June 17, 2013 07:21 am at 7:21 am |
  24. Oliver Cowdery

    Strictly along party lines, with a spattering of independents intermingled in the survey. The survey reveals nothing new.

    June 17, 2013 07:22 am at 7:22 am |
  25. Ho Hum

    And so it should. How dare this man think he can get away with doing all of that? Repeal the un-Patriot Act Now. Fix the IRS overreach and be truthful about Bengazi. No one is above the Law and Obama certainly isn't.

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