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. Peter

    I cant believe i'm saying this but... i Miss Bush

    I am very nervous about the Obama administration and have a bad feeling about this country.

    All we keep hearing is, "look what the republicans and bush did". I feel like the administration and dems are still running on this. They use this excuse to ignore the negative side of the stimulus, spending, war etc. 2 wrongs don't make a right. Looking to the past is not going to help this country, it only helped Obama get elected.

    time to move on.

    February 13, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  2. Gabriel E. Guevara

    As a concerned citizen at these troubled times, I question Pres. Obama's integrity on choosing candidates for the positions that need to be filled. The first two candidates had to "bow" out because of personal problems(actually "dirty") problems, one not paying for his taxes like a good American should and the other for political dealings he has had in the past. The third candidate removed his name from being chosen due to not having confidence in President Obama's policies regarding the bailout money. It is very disturbing to me that President Obama does not do his research of a candidate "before" he appoints him to that position. This is not good politics. The president is not getting my vote for helping our economical woes. He talks a good talk but that will not do the job. I think he needs to do a lot more homework before any more damage is done. Hoping that he settles down, I am Gabriel

    February 13, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  3. Malbert

    The Rush-publican congress is taking a calculated risk in raising the partisan nature of debate and discourse right now in DC. They have perceived their role as purely the designated obstructionists to most anything proposed by Democrats.

    To spend the last two weeks pointing out the problems with 2% of the stimulus package while US jobs and infrastructure are bleeding is no less narrow minded than they way in which they've "led" the US through a pro-business, pro-Wall Street, pro-wealthy set of policies that has brought the US to near economic disaster. Well over 50% of the stimulus, 470 BILLION in fact, is a tax cut... a push back on the AMT. And yet the GOP would rather let families move to unemployment lines, foreclose on homes and watch companies while they point out the speck in the Democrats eye.

    Keep it up Rush-publicans. Your ideology and approach are becoming more distasteful every day you take to the airwaves.

    February 13, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  4. neo-cons at corporqte media are at it again.

    like people believe what they spin, LOL.

    google democracy now and

    get real information and perspective!

    ditch corporate media like plague!

    February 13, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  5. Four and Out

    If the honeymoon wasn't over whe they took this poll, it will be once the American public gets a good look at what the Democrats just bought in the spending bill. Even Nancy Pelosi doesn't refer to it anymore as all about "jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs", admitting yesterday that this is pent up funding for the Democratic social agenda. I think they tried to make up for 8 years in one fell swoop!

    February 13, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  6. Ben

    We shouldn't be comparing apples and oranges. There are two new elements at play here, high standards and bi partisaship. If President didn't care about any of this, he simply would have picked any tom, dick, harry, mary, jane, and alice!

    February 13, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  7. Ken

    Let's see: Obama's lowest approval rating (on his cabinet) is 3 times LARGER than Bush's approval rating when he left office.

    Mr. Obama: When your "problem" is 3 times better than the other guy's "best", you know you're in good shape. Another thing that tells me you're on the right path is that the same pitiful 30% that actually approved of Bush on his way out, now disapprove of you - if that isn't a sign of success, I don't know what is.

    Then there are the rightwing half-wits that come on here and continue to defend the [R] way, like how Gregg's fellow [R]s took him to the woodshed to diffuse any momentum towards bi-partisanship. There are plenty of you rightwing meatheads out there that agree with this [R] approach to politics. I hope the rest of the country sees it for what it is, much like they did this past Nov. If the country has any brains, the [D]s should be looking at 80 senators after 2010.

    And to listen to the drivel from the neo-nitwits who call in to C-SPAN — its like somebody put microphones in a monkey cage. They don't have their history right, they don't have their facts straight, they can't even make their own fairytales self-consistent, and now many of them don't have jobs….yet they quote the Limbaugh talking points like they were reciting bible verses…the very ideology which has cost them their jobs!!!!!! My 13 year old has a better grip on reality than these boneheads. To be an adult American, and be so utterly clueless should be a crime.

    February 13, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  8. Bobby tray

    Amazing how a person is in the office for less than a month and such coverage is done. I would not wish this on anyone. I think the Gregg thing was a Republican ploy anyway.

    February 13, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  9. aware

    Right Rich – You will become more broke by trying this! 🙁

    February 13, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  10. Shawnie


    Those who are conservatives...do you honestly believe the only people who have morality issues are democrats???How nieve can you be..Just wait a minute the wind always turns and blows in the other direction.

    February 13, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  11. Mike

    Is support of 60% of the American people a "trouble sign"? Give me a break. CNN is trying to define the news, not simply reporting it.

    Sen Gregg had a chance to influence policy working for a great leader who listens well and is determined to be bi-partisan. The fact that he refused the job after he accepted is only indicative of his lack of character and the fact that his Republican buddies got to him.

    February 13, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  12. Jim

    I have found from posting on these tickers that CNN puts out what it wants to put out and nothing more. It may make it sound like a negative thing when it is actually going to be positive. In a yahoo poll on Tuesday, with over 54000 people voting, the stimulus package was given a resounding no by 63% of the people.

    Obviously CNN is hand picking the people it is polling.

    February 13, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  13. K. Parks

    The government has been siphoning money from the Social Security Fund into General Fund for years (bankrupting no only my child’s future but my mothers and mine as well). Yet not a single person is standing up now screaming about Obama said a word.

    The government has wasted multitudes of taxpayer money (which we don’t really have) going to war with Iraq (who didn’t attack us on Sept 11). Yet not a single person is standing up now screaming about Obama said a word.

    W. Bush had free rein for 6 year of 8 years he was in office and not a single republican stood up against him as our government not only increased in size by historical proportions but as our national debt skyrocketed. Yet not a single person is standing up now screaming about Obama said a word.

    In America abortion is LEGAL (whether I agree with or not). The back door for many people who disagree is to DEFUND any project that has ANY thing to do with abortion instead of going through PROPER channels to make it illegal. That is a great injustice to the law of the land we live in.

    Obama has been in office less than 30 days. Just because he forgot his magic wand and lost is ability to snap is finger to make things work he is a poor president. After 8 years of GOP ramming their religious beliefs down my throat , killing our good and honorable service people and destroying our creditability around the world I’m willing to be patient a bit to see what Obama does.

    February 13, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  14. barnhardt in NC

    What a shock – Democrats are thinking about America First and Republicans are still in sour grapes mode and thinking GW Bush was unfairly picked on.

    The Democratic Party is the future. The Repugs are the past.

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

    Yep, Mark a CIRCUS LEFT ON HIS DESK FROM YOUR REPUB BUNGLER IN CHIEF!!!!! Of couse bush is resting in Texas..it takes a lot of work to destroy a country!!! You repubs are a laugh a minute..Guess who got their butts beat in the election??? why, it's the repubs..seems they've forgotten that...but will be reminded in 2010!! and in 2012 when all you have to run in your party is "Joe the Dumber" and CariBoo Barbie Palin!!! You repubs don't realize when you've been REJECTED!!!

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

    Ah, crying and complaining about the Republicans. The Democrats have a 70 seat advantage in the House and are two votes shy of filibuster-proof in the Senate. Sorry, but the Democrats are in charge. You don't get to point fingers at Republicans and blame a minority party with almost no power in government for your failures. You get to take responsibility for your actions now.

    And, before you say "obstructionist Republicans," the Republicans haven't blocked ANYTHING so far this legislative session. They can't in the House, and nothing has come up in the Senate where they could keep the party together to do it. Last I checked, "obstructionist" means actually blocking something, not just casting a vote against it that fails to stop it. If a "no" vote is obstructionist, Democrats were obstructionists long before Republicans were.

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

    Choosing a cabinet staff is what it is ,some will fit, some won't. This President like any other President will make mistakes and blunders, that's the human in him, okay. But what really matters is that, he is trying to reach across parties, of which Bush never really tried to do. What the media should be reporting is the way in which Judd Gregg waited and used the stimulus as a excuse to bail out.

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

    Polls do not tell the whole story. How many of you have been called to take these polls. And with the lack of numbers to how many people they ask, do you really believe that most Americans think Obama is doing a great job? If you do pull your heads out of the sand and take a look around. How can anyone say that he is doing a great job? He has only been in office for 4 weeks, how can you or anyone rate him yet as doing a good job. He hasn't even done anything to comment on. All you people do is complain about each other and either party. I suggest that each and every one of your grow up and start thinking about what you can do for your selves and not what the government can do for you. Or is it that you all want to live in a Welfare nation?

    February 13, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  19. Ajay Jain, Garland, TX, USA

    61 % is NOT a low approval rating for cabinet picks or anything else!!

    Obama with great ratings is his own worst enemy setting the ratings bar so high that CNN chooses to give him a poor headline in comparison to HIMSELF. A poor CNN choice for headline:

    "Poll: Trouble signs for Obama over Cabinet picks?"

    February 13, 2009 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  20. Ollie, Huntsville, Al.

    It takes team work to save AMERICA!!! Not just one party! But we the AMERICA people are the ones hurting , you all still have jobs, but not for long if you do not pull yourselves together. Do you all have something better than the stimulus package? All I am hearing is complaints from you REPUBLICANS no ideals this is why we voted you all out of power, get over yourselves and think about the people. The old ones did not work,new ways are needed change is good for AMERICA.

    February 13, 2009 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  21. Barbara

    American companies that have grown too big – a good many have failed. Let us hope and pray our government does not get too big!!!
    We pray for wisdom.

    February 13, 2009 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  22. truthsayer

    He's been in office 3 bloody weeks....this is getting ridiculous now and people are getting angry about it CNN

    February 13, 2009 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  23. Marty

    There is something wrong with CNN reporting. It is like their Best political team. Always late in reporting news and their headlines never match the content. Always negative press.

    February 13, 2009 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  24. James

    I also very much agree with @Suzanne Schecker. The Media is doing a number on all of us...anything for ratings.

    February 13, 2009 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  25. Gabriel E. Guevara

    I also would like to mention the fact that another way to help the economy would be to have representatives and senators join the rest of us in paying social security taxes and contributing to a pension fund as we have. Maybe if they join the rest of us taxpayers they will do a better job with "our" money.

    February 13, 2009 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
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