February 13th, 2009
04:15 PM ET
12 years ago

Poll: Trouble signs for Obama over Cabinet picks?

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/02/13/art.gregg.gi.jpg caption="Obama's second pick for Commerce Secretary, Sen. Judd Gregg, withdrew his nomination Friday."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - Four weeks into his administration, President Barack Obama is still searching for secretaries of Commerce and Health and Human Services.

But six out of 10 Americans think Obama is doing a good job choosing members of his Cabinet, according to a national poll. The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released this week suggests that 61 percent of those questioned give the president a thumbs-up when it comes to choosing his Cabinet, with 38 percent saying Obama is doing a poor job selecting the top officials in his administration.

While 61 percent is a solid majority, it's far lower than the 80 percent of respondents who say Obama is providing strong leadership for the country, the 76 percent who feel he's doing a good job handling foreign policy, the 72 percent who indicate Obama's doing a good job dealing with the economy and the 68 percent who give the President a thumbs-up when it comes to handling policies on terrorism.

It's also 15 points lower than the president's overall approval rating of 76 percent.

"His approval rating on choosing his Cabinet is a good number, but it's his biggest weakness," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted February 7-8, before Senator Judd Gregg stepped down Thursday from his nomination as Commerce Secretary, but after former Senator Tom Daschle dropped out earlier this month as Health and Human Services nominee. Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico also stepped down at the beginning of the year from his nomination as Commerce Secretary, bringing the number of formal Obama Cabinet nominees to drop out to three.

When former President George W. Bush was moving into the White House in 2001, only one of his Cabinet designates stepped down after being nominated; the same with Bill Clinton when he was taking over the presidency back in 1993.

When broken down by party, the poll suggests that 88 percent of Democratic respondents say Obama is doing a good job when it comes to choosing his Cabinet, with 11 percent saying he's doing a poor job. It's a different story among Republicans, with 36 percent giving Obama the thumbs-up and 64 percent feeling the President's doing a poor job when it comes to choosing the top members of his administration.

"Democrats are standing by him. Republicans aren't, even though he used some of his Cabinet picks to reach out to the GOP," adds Holland.

Gregg would have joined Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood as the third Republican in Obama's Cabinet.

The poll questioned 806 adult Americans by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (729 Responses)
  1. John

    Amazing. Nobody has had a chance to read this bill. The democrats are hiding what's in it. The media is being controlled by obama so we only hear what they want us to. WHAT DOES THAT SOUND LIKE TO YOU?

    Wake up America.

    February 13, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  2. carlo

    LIP February 13th, 2009 12:03 pm ET

    Hell, I did my own poll and with a fairly diverse group of people and they all just laugh when anyone mentions Obama's cabinet picks. First thing that comes up is how well the Democrats seem to be at avoiding paying taxes on the huge sums of money these "poor" people make annually.
    I'm thinking CNN needs to do a better, more thorough job, of polling the people
    Who were the people you polled? The participants in My Big Red neck Wedding?

    February 13, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  3. Bishop

    Obama is GOD MAN, so let him be or deal with GOD

    February 13, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  4. Saybah

    Wow. Even in a positive poll, CNN finds a negative. The media, CNN included are complicit in the self-avowed Taliban Republican tactics.

    They parade the Republicans across the TV day in day out, and all the American people hear them saying is "No." They have not put forth one coherent idea. Now they say they have found their voice.

    But ask the people who are hurting in everyday America? They want and need help.

    Thank you for your concern. This president in goodwill reached out to the Republicans and they spat in his hands.

    Here is what I want the genuises at CNN to ask every Republican that appears on their shows? Ask if they will accept the money given to their states or not?

    Follow up by asking them if it was just pure political theater for them to try to get their voice back, on the backs of suffering Americans.

    And note to Americans suffering in this dismal election, especially those with Republican governors. Demand to know where the money is going to be spent. Republicans in their zeal to see this president fail, will not inject the money into the areas that will get people working again. They will put it in useless programs so they can say the plan failed.

    The Republicans say they've found their voice, but it is time for Americans who are suffering to find theirs and make it heard.

    February 13, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  5. Early exit

    I think he got out while the getting's good...

    February 13, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  6. rich

    Saying this Bill could bring financial disaster,is like telling a broke man you will become more broke by trying this.The republicans already destroyed the country,not surprised they dont want someone to fix it.You would think they hate america.

    February 13, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  7. Terry, Florida

    Another good Obama nomination (Obomination) coming up – David Ogden as Deputy Attorney General of the United States.

    His record?

    In addition to making it harder to prosecute those who sell images of child molestation and rape, he sought to ensure that pornography can be easily distributed and readily accessed in almost any medium or location.

    Fought cases in Puerto Rico to allow Playboy to broadcast explicit programming on TV.

    Represented Philip Harvey, a man who runs the nation’s largest mail-order pornography shop out of North Carolina.

    Has sued to allow sexually-explicit content to be transmitted over the phone.

    Claimed in court that there is a constitutional right for pornography to be kept in firehouses, (to the joy of female firefighters – not).

    In 2000, sued to allow pornography to be accessed in public libraries.

    Another good choice Obama – not.

    February 13, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  8. That Other Jerry

    For all his charisma, intelligence, inspiration, and everything else Obama has going for him, he seems to have one glaring weakness: he can't shake himself loose from the Washington insider crowd when it comes to staffing his administration. Starting with VP "I've been here since Gerald Ford" Biden, right on down the line. The Cabinet issues are just nipping at his heels now, but if he doesn't start thinking outside the Beltway, sooner or later this is going to bite him in the buttocks.

    February 13, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  9. tracey


    February 13, 2009 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  10. Jackie

    Again, who and how are we going to pay for all this? I would go bankrupt if I followed the "spend" philosophy. And remember it was not just the repubs that got us into this...over the years its been both sides. And I don't know why people are thinking O'bama is any different from the rest of the clan...he's a lawyer and his lips move too!

    February 13, 2009 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  11. johnr

    CNN has Obama at 78% – nobody else does

    February 13, 2009 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  12. aware

    Obama ia salesman not a leader! Get his face and voice off of TV ads! 🙁

    February 13, 2009 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  13. Sharon

    Hey, Rex, it's you dumb Rednecks and your Buffoon- in -Chief that's got us where we are today..down the shi##er!!! And you Repubs are just like a BAD VIRUS..you keep on GIVING MISERY!!! Thank the univiserse we finally have an intelligent man in the Presidency...not like YOUR president who is like you Rednecks that can't string two coherent words together..and by the way..lest you forget...Judd Gregg ASKED for this job!!! Another Republican FOOL!!!

    Obama said that he was surprised by Gregg's withdrawal in an interview with the State Journal-Register:

    "It comes as something of a surprise, because the truth, you know, Mr. Gregg APPROACHED US with interest and seemed enthusiastic.'

    February 13, 2009 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  14. byron wilson

    Donald Rumsfeld, Alberto Gonzalez, Henry Paulson, need I continue??? Lets not get on Obama's picks. At least Obama's failures in the cabinet picks are being weaved out early, before they can do any damage. Whether you think about it like this or not, this is actually a good process. Expose the weak early, so only the strong can join his administration.

    February 13, 2009 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  15. Beverly, NYC

    RJ February 13th, 2009 12:46 pm ET: Thank you for your post. I wish more Republicans would stand up and say Rush & Hannity don't speak for me.

    February 13, 2009 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  16. jack cane

    It is all his fould by putting so many rivals in the game.
    it is gust not posible.
    His mistake Obama.
    maybe people like Clinton are a good pick, why all the media was focust on the Clintons that they forgot abuot the rest off Obama picks

    February 13, 2009 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  17. aware

    Obama is a salesman not a leader! Get his face and voice off of TV ads! It is time to stop campaigning!

    February 13, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  18. meg

    This is non-story at this time!!

    February 13, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  19. Barbara Caniff

    I think Rush Limbaugh is running the Republican party. I think Sen. Gregg got too much pressure from Limbaugh and the Republican party. Obama is trying his best to get along with the Republicans, but they just want to destroy our nation and do everything they can against Obama.

    February 13, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  20. Amber


    You have only given Obama less than a month to "fix" problems that have been in place for years, inside institutions that have been doing things a certain way for decades. Surely you can't expect him to be the Messiah? Give him time to work with these institutions. He's trying to turn a river with a stick at the moment; he hasn't had a chance to add more sticks to the dam yet.


    Well said. Thank you for such a thoughtful comment.

    February 13, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  21. Smerlap

    On election day 2008 Barack Obama won the Presidency with 52% of the popular vote and 68% of the electoral votes. Three weeks ago he took over from the worst President in the history of our country.

    The Republicans should remind themselves of these numbers and get in line with the rest of us or risk being relegated to the back water of politics for the next several decades.

    February 13, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  22. Anita P Laycock Lewisburg, PA

    The Republicans should not expect to vote against everything & then share in the benefits. I was an independant & voted for rep. in the past never again they are stupid & selfish

    February 13, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  23. Joe Unger, San Francisco

    Partisanship is alive and well in the American public. The Obamaniacs continue to blame Republicans and their supporters for everything bad.
    Obama picks Judd, Judd quits over policy, and the Obaks blame Judd, not Obama who showed a lack of judgement; if you blame Judd as a Repub as usual, then BO showed naivete and inexperience. . 2 other candidates for the adminstration had to drop out yet 61% approve of how BO is doing? How many of those 61% actually gave it some thought? Me thinks they just gave a kneejerk thumbs up response because they want to be seen as supporting Obama. Yet the guy still has 2 post unfilled!!!
    Democrats have a problem with BO's stimulus bill and also help hold it up yet the Obaks rag on the Republicans. Yet BO promised he was the right man to bring the nation together.
    The Obaks are going to continue to get angry and lash out as long as they still persist in the myth of BO as another JFK, MLK or Lincoln. He isn't and what you are seeing is Washington realilty. If you disagree, then we need to see BO do something worthy of a MLK; instead, we're seeing just the opposite. Stop cannonizing this guy until he actually does the deeds to deserve it or else we will hold him to lofty standards, which apparently the Obaks hate. Go figure that one out.

    February 13, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  24. fella from Chicago

    Take the Census Bureau away from the Commerce Secretary and this is what happens. Obama and his boys what to make sure the next census figures allow them to gerrymander and give the Dems addititional districts to allow ACORN to cheat in. Soon Obama's popularity poll % will read 61%, then 50%, then 40%..... In 2012 they'll be a cry to "vote the bum out of office".

    February 13, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  25. Hannah Stevens

    Republicans do have a plan and it is more tax cuts for the wealthy, just like the bush administration did and that failed. So we should adopt a plan that has already failed? We are in deep do do right now and it will take extreme measures to get us out of the hole that the repugs got us into. It seems to me that job creation is a means of getting money into the pockets of the people who need it so they can again start spending on things they need and want and that will precipitate companies ramping up business and hiring more people, buying more computers and get our economy out of this mess. That is what Obama wants to do. And in doing so fix our infrastructure and attend to domestic programs for the people of America. This country was sorely neglected during the last 8 years.

    February 13, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30