Obama's polls nothing to brag about ahead of big speech
January 27th, 2014
12:22 PM ET
7 months ago

Obama's polls nothing to brag about ahead of big speech

Washington (CNN) – President Barack Obama's poll numbers are near the lowest of his presidency as he prepares to deliver his State of the Union address on Tuesday.

According to a CNN Poll of Polls compiled on Monday which averages the most recent non-partisan, live operator national surveys, Obama's approval rating stood at  44%, with 51% of Americans giving a thumbs down to Obama's performance in the White House.


That's marginally better than two months ago when they ran at or near all-time lows for Obama. But it's still far below where it stood a year ago, at his second inaugural, when his approval rating stood in the low to mid 50's in most polling.

Obama's numbers tumbled after a summer of controversy over the Edward Snowden intelligence leaks and congressional investigations into IRS targeting of conservative political groups. Then came October, and the politically charged botched rollout of Obamacare, his signature domestic policy achievement.

Coupled with legislative setbacks, many pundits labeled 2013 the worst year of Obama's presidency. And for the first time since taking over at the White House in 2009, a majority of the public surveyed disapproved of his job performance.

Obama, himself, has been much more popular than his policies, but his favorable ratings – a separate indicator from job performance - are also now hovering near his all-time lows.

Just 49% of Americans in a new ABC News/Washington Post survey said they had a favorable opinion of the President. Fifty percent said they saw him in an unfavorable light.

"Americans' views of Obama as a person started to fall in the spring and summer of 2013, well before the flawed roll-out of the new health care law," CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said.

"Around the time of the NSA and IRS controversies, the number of Americans who felt he was honest and trustworthy dropped nine points, and the number who said he was a strong leader who inspired confidence also dropped at that time," he said.

The President said he doesn't obsess over polling.

"If I was interested in polling, I wouldn't have run for president," Obama said at a news conference in December.

The silver lining for him in all these polls: While his numbers are not impressive, approval ratings for Congress overall, and specifically for congressional Republicans and Democrats, are much lower.

How Obama matches up with predecessors

So how does Obama stack up when compared to his most recent two-term predecessors, as they started the sixth year of their presidencies?

George W. Bush was also underwater, with a 43%-54% approval/disapproval rating in January 2006 as the Iraq war raged and criticism of the federal government's response to Hurricane Katrina continued.

But Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan fared much better. Clinton stood at 59%-37% in January 1998, with Reagan at 64%-27% in January 1986.

"Historical comparisons suggest that the public's reaction to Bush and Obama are markedly more partisan than their predecessors," Holland said.  "It's almost as if the 2000 election marks a dividing point in U.S. politics, with 21st-century presidents not able to rely on support from voters from the opposite party that routinely gave a positive rating of 20th-century presidents."

The CNN Poll of Polls is an average of seven non-partisan, live operator, national surveys of the President's approval rating conducted over the two weeks.

They include the Gallup daily tracking poll (January 21-23); ABC News/Washington Post (January 20-23); Fox News (January 19-21); CBS News (January 17-21); American Research Group (January 17-20); Pew Research Center (January 15-19) and Quinnipiac University (January 15-19).

Since it is an average of multiple surveys, the Poll of Polls does not have a sampling error.

soundoff (94 Responses)
  1. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    And what are the poll numbers for the do nothing congress?

    January 27, 2014 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  2. Malory Archer

    While his approval may be "nothing to brag about", it's still on the uptick over the last two months, which is better than the alternative.

    January 27, 2014 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  3. Lynda/Minnesota

    Oh! Look how creative CNN is getting: we've got pictures to prove a point. Or something.

    Cool.

    January 27, 2014 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  4. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Polls are nice aren't they?
    Looks likethe President's numbers went up since December.
    But you're right CNN, at this rate he will NEVER get re-elected to his third term...
    Yawn.

    January 27, 2014 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  5. smith

    No big surprise here. Obama based his presidency on the ACA and it`s a pile of poop. Clinton or Christie better get a big shovel to clean up this pile.

    January 27, 2014 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  6. Malory Archer

    Malory Archer

    While his approval may be "nothing to brag about", it's still on the uptick over the last two months, which is better than the alternative.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Unless you're one of those HOPING for the alternative.

    January 27, 2014 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  7. Tony

    Everything is relative. Obama still has a higher approval rating than congressional Republicans. Then again, who doesn't have a higher approval rating than congressional Republicans? Even Obamacare has a higher approval rating than congressional Republicans.

    January 27, 2014 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  8. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Where's Our $24 Billion?

    According to your picture CNN, his poll numbers are improving. What are you trying to say? It must be a slow news day. And since you brought Bush up, I've just got to mention 9/11, Iraq, Tax cuts, Katrina & Great Recession. Poll that!

    January 27, 2014 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  9. Malory Archer

    smith

    No big surprise here. Obama based his presidency on the ACA...

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Right on smith! I'm not surprised his approvals are increasing either, considering more and more Americans are discovering that dispite the "pile of poop" the right claims the ACA is, it's actually good for America.

    January 27, 2014 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  10. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Where's Our $24 Billion?

    9/11 – Thousands Died
    Iraq – Thousands Died
    Katrina – Thousands Died

    CNN, your false equivalency of this President to his predecessor is shameful.

    January 27, 2014 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  11. Sniffit

    "many pundits labeled 2013 the worst year of Obama's presidency."

    The only reason to listen to the MSM's bobblehead pundits is so you know what to mercilessly criticize them for saying. Almost all of them ride the proverbial short bus...and if you give them a little plastic hoop to play with, i.e., MSM attention, then they'll all swear they're the one who's steering.

    January 27, 2014 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  12. Rudy NYC

    Jeff Brown in Jersey

    And what are the poll numbers for the do nothing congress?
    -----------------------
    The poll I heard about this morning had Republicans in Congress at 20% approval. Yet, they still blame Christie for Romney losing.

    January 27, 2014 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  13. Lynda/Minnesota

    "Then again, who doesn't have a higher approval rating than congressional Republicans?"

    Last polling numbers I saw from Pew suggested that even the media (sitting at 20-23% approval) might be coming in a tad higher than the GOP.

    January 27, 2014 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  14. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Lynda/Minnesota

    Oh! Look how creative CNN is getting: we've got pictures to prove a point. Or something.

    Cool.
    -------------------------------------------------
    LOL!
    I was at an off-site training class Thursday and Friday....did I miss much?
    I see that they managed to find something else to finally yank Christie off of their front page, so to speak.

    January 27, 2014 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  15. Sniffit

    '"I was at an off-site training class Thursday and Friday....did I miss much?
    I see that they managed to find something else to finally yank Christie off of their front page, so to speak."

    Not much...we're all still just howling at the moon. Looks like they were maybe trying to resurrect Rubio today tho...perhaps an implicit admission that they know Christie is seriously damaged goods at this point. Sorry, CNN, but those dreams is both dead. You're going to have to work really hard to find a savior for your 2016 horse race narrative.

    January 27, 2014 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  16. John, PA

    His polls are nothing to brag about…. The Obama presidency is nothing to brag about, he is a Failure on every level.

    January 27, 2014 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  17. Thomas

    We need to bring back GW Bush , And bring back a strong economy and military !

    We need a more republican understanding of no how !

    January 27, 2014 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  18. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    You're going to have to work really hard to find a savior for your 2016 horse race narrative
    -------------------------------------------------
    Love it when you use that "still howling at the moon" bit. It does put things, at least the goings-on on this thread, in perspective.
    Speaking of right-wing "saviors", who do you think it will be Sniffit?
    I heard Romney swear up an down on NBC the other day that he was not running. Of course, that could be him trying to throw us off the scent....and I'm smelling Romney for some reason...

    January 27, 2014 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  19. Wake up People!

    Oh how I love polls! Clearly this one shows while President Obama may not be able to win that coveted third term, however I also noticed that he's polling at what 4 times that of Congress??

    I don't know about anyone else but I'm doing fairly well under President Obama. I lost my job two weeks prior to him being elected, as did many millions of others. This POTUS fought for myself and others who had lost their jobs through no fault of their own and pushed for our extended unemployment benefits. While the GOP wanted to cut all of our benefits after just a few months. Once my unemployment ran out I was able to secure a decent job in an up and coming company. I have now been employed for 2-1/2 years, with a promotion and a raise under my belt. I have even been able to contribute to my 401K again.

    I will stick with my POTUS and the dems.

    January 27, 2014 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  20. J'Cincinnati'Redd

    Congressional dems and repubs numbers are nothing to brag about. As a country we have nothing to brag about. Everybody is broke, are kids are dumb and our woman are 'Loose'. Along with the fact that our water is bad and the crap the put in our food is even worse. So dont even get me started on OBAMA!

    January 27, 2014 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  21. A True Conservative

    What has he done to be proud of? Nothing! He has proven to be an incompetent manager and uninvolved in even the most important issues and events. He has driven our standing in the world even further down than it was. He does manage to make ridiculous comments, not based on facts, regarding racial issues. I'll give him that one.

    January 27, 2014 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  22. the hate on Obama continues @ the gop_tea_potty_3more_yrs

    Obama's poll numbers is better than GW Bush at this point in his presidency and better than congress at any given time...so whats the point of this poll reall?

    I see an upward tick in his poll numbers. that's a plus!!!

    January 27, 2014 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  23. Dean

    You think his poll numbers are low now? History will show Obama to be the worst U.S. president ever.

    January 27, 2014 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  24. J'Cincinnati'Redd

    As a nation, we are at the point of no return. We have faught eachother so much in the last 15yrs,that we have let other contries pass us up.

    January 27, 2014 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  25. rs

    No doubt the GOP's constant drum beating on their faux conspiracies didn't help. And, perhaps that explains why their approval/trust rating is about half that of the President. See- the old let's tear everyone down can backfire!

    January 27, 2014 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
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