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. Lem

    Obama can throw a baby off a cliff, on live TV and people would STILL elect him to be our next president (if his term wasn't up).

    June 17, 2013 07:45 am at 7:45 am |
  2. Mike

    He is just too disappointing. Like an absent leader. He accomplished a lot and made good decisions. But he is a dull piece of cardboard.

    June 17, 2013 07:46 am at 7:46 am |
  3. watash60

    No problem he has create so many takers they are assured of victory's until the checks stop

    June 17, 2013 07:46 am at 7:46 am |
  4. Muhammad

    Bismillah! I think high gas prices were the last straw for the approval ratings of President Obama. Going beyond job discrimination against homosexual and trying to force establish religious to accept homosexual marriage also is a major factor in his decline.

    With homosexuals now even trying to change other American children to accept unnatural marriage that lifestyle via the Boy Scouts American have had enough of this attack on Freedom of Religion in America.

    The outpouring of support for Chick-il-Filet after the homosexual attack on their religious rights shows who really is in the majority.

    June 17, 2013 07:47 am at 7:47 am |
  5. Meki60

    Obama is and has always been a charlatan.

    June 17, 2013 07:48 am at 7:48 am |
  6. realist512

    No problem Obama. We are still with you! Republicans and Fox are trying very hard but nothing sticks. They are simply making noise so that they do not have to govern. It is disgusting.

    Government should: solve entitlements, create jobs, improve infrastructure, stimulate innovation and research, and do immigration reform.

    Just please avoid another Iraq in Syria. Treat lightly.

    June 17, 2013 07:48 am at 7:48 am |
  7. Bob Brown

    Gee... could it be because he looked us Americans straight in the eye and lied to us last week?

    June 17, 2013 07:49 am at 7:49 am |
  8. won

    So much for hope and change - it's all a false illusion. Thanks a lot for deceiving us, and putting all black people on welfare draining our taxes to death..

    June 17, 2013 07:49 am at 7:49 am |
  9. thetruth

    yeah, i knew that wouldnt make it on the globalist run CNN :O)

    June 17, 2013 07:50 am at 7:50 am |
  10. dt

    and they wonder why...with 23 or more security levels above the president ..it's a shadow government and big business that is running the government..lies , lies, lies but my approval of congress doesn't even rate 1%..It's all a sham so that the good folks think they are actually doing something for the people. Time for America to AWAKEN.

    June 17, 2013 07:50 am at 7:50 am |
  11. eddy dieudonne

    Edward Snowden is NO hero. He betrayed his country and even worse, he has put me and all of my brothers and sisters at arms in harm’s way. Intelligence is how I and members of my team do our job. For here on out we will always question the validity of the data we receive. I personally want to see him brought to justice as a war criminal who made a conscience decision to sell out his country and aid terrorists. The traitor needs to be brought to justice. All of us on the ground are in jeopardy.

    June 17, 2013 07:51 am at 7:51 am |
  12. Anonymous

    probably the same poll that said Romney was going to win in 2012 – go figure!

    June 17, 2013 07:52 am at 7:52 am |
  13. guest

    Unless they're able to poll every single person in the country, this is worthless.

    June 17, 2013 07:53 am at 7:53 am |
  14. Anonymous

    Team work is important to success – why is Michaela sitting off to the side all along. Kate is trying to hard – don't see success here.nd

    June 17, 2013 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
  15. RSG

    Yep.. persecute the whistle blower. He's not a traitor, he didn't sell off secrets to foreign countries... He did what he thought was right... Seems to be a dying thing in America anymore. Guess that's how our Gov works now.. just do your job and keep your mouth shut or we'll find something to persecute you for and make an example of you.

    June 17, 2013 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
  16. End The Party

    Democrat or Republican no difference, the American people do not need Parties to rule over us. We only ask for honest representation.

    June 17, 2013 07:55 am at 7:55 am |
  17. NameJacob

    Are Americans finally waking up?

    June 17, 2013 07:56 am at 7:56 am |
  18. Paul Cooper

    The most disturbing thing here is that 45% of the public still trusts a man who has been caught lying to them repeatedly, about everything. I don't know if that a co-dependency issue, but it's terrible for the country as a whole when nearly half the population has bought into a cult of personality so strongly that they simply refuse to face the truth.

    Then again, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot all had their hard core true believers too. Maybe it's a socialism thing.

    June 17, 2013 07:56 am at 7:56 am |
  19. Jimh77

    I've certainly lost that loving feeling and trust for Pres Obama.

    June 17, 2013 07:57 am at 7:57 am |
  20. Bill D

    You've lost that lovin' feeling,
    Whoa, that lovin' feeling,
    You've lost that lovin' feeling,
    Now it's gone...gone...gone...wooooooh.

    June 17, 2013 07:57 am at 7:57 am |
  21. Anonymous

    Good guy, but he just wasn't qualified to fill the position. He presented himself as a pro from Dover, but underneath the true desire to serve, he knew he was in over his head.

    June 17, 2013 07:57 am at 7:57 am |
  22. Kelly

    Surprised it's that high, honestly...

    June 17, 2013 07:58 am at 7:58 am |
  23. sifto

    media is doing everything it can to undermine the IRS debacle of targeting US citizens–those other things are distractions.....everyone except Fox are trying to ignore the seriousness of the IRS allegations....

    June 17, 2013 07:58 am at 7:58 am |
  24. S

    It's about time people woke up!

    June 17, 2013 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
  25. Peoples State of Illinois

    Finally, some are waking up.

    June 17, 2013 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
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