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. Jtom

    This administration is forcing us to choose between believing they are deceitful or incompetent with their continued, "I don't know respose," to every question asked of them about every scandal. Taking the 5th doesn't add to their credibility either. They are digging their own hole on these issues without the Republicans having to do a thing.

    So who is in charge at the White House, Sgt. Shultz?

    June 17, 2013 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
  2. Scott

    Is this the same poll that had Romney up by 8?

    June 17, 2013 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
  3. Debbie

    WOW could it be that Americans are finally waking up about this President and the entire government? Better late than never I guess!

    June 17, 2013 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
  4. Faulke Yue

    Obama wasn't elected this past term for any hope or change he might bring..he was just the lesser of two evils...

    June 17, 2013 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
  5. ralph Petrillo

    This happens quite frequently after re election. He seems amiss with what to accomplish in his second term.

    June 17, 2013 08:00 am at 8:00 am |
  6. tom l.

    @Sniffit and Domincan Mama,
    Take away the hardcore right and the hardcore left and look at the independents. 37% approve and 61% disapprove. Thoughts? I'm sure it's the TEA Party's fault, right?

    June 17, 2013 08:00 am at 8:00 am |
  7. mique

    He should have dumped the patriot act when he had the chance.

    June 17, 2013 08:00 am at 8:00 am |
  8. tom bhai

    We all know it is CNN/Republican propaganda. CNN wants to be FOX News. They are attempingt by bringing down most popular and loved person of the world for their ratings, which is in slump.

    June 17, 2013 08:00 am at 8:00 am |
  9. Tenie

    Hey bo, hope your family enjoys yet another vacation at taxpayer expense. How many Americans don't get one because your agenda of selling out this country for votes is more important than job growth to you

    June 17, 2013 08:00 am at 8:00 am |
  10. islandivan

    Well the sleepy voting public is finally awaking from their asleep at the wheel poor choice for president. I can't wait to hear the crying from the idiots who voted for Obama when and if Obama care kicks in and the costs they will incur. You get what you vote for folks. No-one to blame but the voting public.

    June 17, 2013 08:01 am at 8:01 am |
  11. DPB

    Folks...Folks...Folks...no need to worry...the Media WILL rally around Bo Bo and turn these lemons into more lemon favored Kool-aid...YEAH!!!!so just relax...drink some more kool-aid and keep chanting...Bo Bo is Great!!!

    June 17, 2013 08:02 am at 8:02 am |
  12. Allen

    The guy is terrible in execution.like he says something then that's it, we see little action.

    June 17, 2013 08:02 am at 8:02 am |
  13. Anonymous

    I think what it is, is that nobody wants to live in a present-day equivalent of the Kremlin.

    June 17, 2013 08:03 am at 8:03 am |
  14. Showmetheeixt

    Obama is very dishonest and can't be trusted!

    June 17, 2013 08:03 am at 8:03 am |
  15. Toltec1

    I am reading the biography of Thomas Jefferson and was surprised (I don't know why) to hear him complaining about the the "press" of the day and how it influenced public opinion. He was discussing the way Britain was using the media to cast doubt on the future of our new way of governing. After the revolutionary war ended, many Americans favored a monarchial form of government. This was T.J.'s biggest fear. I had never thought about media and it's power to manipulate in the "olen days". I guess some things never change and never will. Try as I might, I realize the media has a big influence on my opinion. Once the msm turned against President Obama, he doesn't stand a chance. This would be true of any president from any party, I think. Peace

    June 17, 2013 08:03 am at 8:03 am |
  16. Keys1

    The real story is that anybody believe he is honest.

    June 17, 2013 08:03 am at 8:03 am |
  17. Christian Grey

    What else would you expect from a community organizer with no real leadership experience? He leads from behind and is only aware of things once they hit the press. Give me a break, as my bumper sticker says…”Sorry Yet?”

    June 17, 2013 08:03 am at 8:03 am |
  18. Danram

    It's a shame that it's taken 4 1/2 years for a majority of the public to figure out what millions of us have known all along.

    June 17, 2013 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
  19. NickD

    I wonder how many hundreds of millions of dollars has been spent by Fox, AM radio, the wall Street Journal and other hard right main stream media outlets as they have spent the last 5 years telling and selling one lie after another to sully the president.

    How deep and swift the currents of an ocean of lies does it take before it finally washes away a man. perhaps now we are finding out. Even from before this man was sworn into office for the first time there has been a dedicated and co ordinated effort to lie about this presiodent and to smear his family.

    Obama is not perfect, no human is, but then no human could ever attain the level of evil that has his been branded upon him by the largest and most expensive smear campaign in the history of the free world.

    When do the decent people of this nation tell the tea party and the Koch brothers that enough is enough?

    When does simple human decency and honor return?

    June 17, 2013 08:05 am at 8:05 am |
  20. Herman

    What has this president done except golf and corrupt the office of the presidency?

    June 17, 2013 08:05 am at 8:05 am |
  21. Mahmood Khan

    Some dishonesty comes with this job. Everybody lies, what is worse with Obama isstanding on even higher moral pedestal and still lying blatantly.

    June 17, 2013 08:05 am at 8:05 am |
  22. Bill

    How is this possible??? He is so honest and true. Just look at him! Oh wait...maybe not.

    June 17, 2013 08:06 am at 8:06 am |
  23. IndFL

    You Rock President Obama!! Poll or no poll you've kept us out of needless wars. Don't let the right sway ya.

    June 17, 2013 08:06 am at 8:06 am |
  24. chris

    "Just over six in 10 believe that government is so large and powerful that it threatens the rights and freedoms of ordinary Americans." And still people have faith in the government running our health care...uummm

    June 17, 2013 08:07 am at 8:07 am |
  25. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    Poll schmoll. The President is doing fine despite these Nontraversies(as Sniffit put it). By the way CNN, New Day sucks and Morning Joe beats it hands down. You should have never gotten rid of Soledad.

    June 17, 2013 08:08 am at 8:08 am |
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