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. Helpless

    try picking good people that don't have a tax problem

    February 13, 2009 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  2. G.O.P.: When you got nothing, You got nothing to lose

    OMG: 25 % of the public does not think Obama is doing a good job.
    That's about the same percentage that thinks the earth is flat.

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

    The President's approval numbers show beyond a doubt, that 70+% of the American people are NOT paying attention to ANYTHING !!! They, along with the media are apparently TOO DRUNK on Obama's Cool-Aid to notice.
    Can't wait 'til they come out of their drunken stupor, and realize that we've tried Obama's "cure" in the late 60's and 70's. It didn't work then, it WON'T work NOW !!!

    February 13, 2009 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  4. Lisa - VA

    MAD – THANK YOU..you have hit the nail on the head..I could not have said it better.

    February 13, 2009 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  5. Denver Mom

    He wasn't "reaching out" to the Republicans... He was trying to make the senate fillerbuster proof. Very manipulative man!!

    February 13, 2009 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  6. Aussie

    To Mark...get over already with the sarcastic "Republican" comments. Two words for you and your Republican talking heads "Sorry Losers'!!
    There will never be bipartisanship on anything because of the Republicans unwillingness to let go. We had 8 years of utter chaos in Washington led by an incompetent "talking head". Move on....tired of the Morals issues....The Republicans have had enough on their own side from religious leaders etc that have soiled their image.
    Get a grip and move on!

    February 13, 2009 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  7. d_brown

    Dem's slam Republicans because they are right, but Republicans can't slam Dem's because they will be called mean; it shows the sensitivity of the Dems's.

    Obama lies and its OK because he is a Dem and obviously can be trusted. Bush says what his predecessor said, and its ends up being wrong and its Bush lied and is responsible for everyone else believing the same thing, even when they said it before Bush.

    February 13, 2009 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  8. Big D

    Maybe Obama's ratings would come in a little higher if the media didn't spend so much time asking 'is this troubling news for Obama' or 'is this a sign of trouble for Obama' . Maybe Obama's ratings would come in a little higher if the media didn't give so much time to the GOP to spout their oppositional rhetoric, without asking them to back up their flimsy talking points.

    February 13, 2009 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  9. Greg in Colorado

    Who cares at least he isn't lying or putting us into an unwarranted war, or wire tapping us, or rallying up the religious right, or ignoring a national catastrophe... at least he is doing something... not everything is perfect and nor shall we judge... you do the president's job and then come back on this site and tell us all about your plans for the future.

    Go Obama!!!

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

    Stories like this are written so you keep your jobs...its a lot of baloney. I bet more than 38% of the country has no idea what Commerce means. Why not tell it like it is; Gregg was a flake. Your next story should be about who is really qualified and why.

    February 13, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  11. michael

    Since niether party has a a super majority in many years it is both of their faults. 8 years ago the democrats were doing the same thing the republicans are now. But when you got Ried not even listening to other senators ideas about how to stimulate the economy what do you expect. Instead of giving a valid reason he has his press secretary attack the guy football career. Both sides need to reach across the aisle not just the republicans.

    February 13, 2009 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  12. Kevin in Ohio

    Good for Gregg...he saw the light. Government is not the solution to our problems..... Government IS the problem. Unfortunately, our President is taking us down the same failed paths tried before. Spend, spend, spend, tax, tax, tax.

    February 13, 2009 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  13. gl, Pittsburgh

    64 percent feeling the President's doing a poor job when it comes to choosing the top members of his administration.

    Why would CNN and any body else believe the Repulicans will say he is doing a good job when they are doing everything in their power to help him fail.

    February 13, 2009 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  14. Eric

    I am a democrat, and I am starting to dislike Obama approach to governing. You can not appease them. Please stop trying.

    February 13, 2009 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  15. Not Everyone Has a Price

    Don't get me wrong. I'm and Independent but voted for McCain. I was Ok with Obama winning. Two reasons I voted for McCain was my deep fear of Democratic spending gone wild and Obama's kissing up to the Clintons. I have been hoping Obama would keep his word on working with "everyone" and getting rid of the good old boys political games in Washington.

    It becomes more and more clear to me that was a false promise and the only "change" coming to Washington is socialism.

    I admire Gregg for standing his ground. Apparently when he wouldn't support the mega Pelosi Pork spending bill, the ability to "disagree" was not reality.

    February 13, 2009 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  16. stormerF

    Who would want the Job,when the census beureau has been removed leaving you as a Figure head over a Department ,under Obama.

    February 13, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  17. Ryan

    What's really amazing is that there are still 61% who approve of the picks. Three of them have failed to pay taxes, which is compounded by the fact that one of them is now heading the treasury. One of them has a pending federal investigation for corruption, and he seems to be the only Obama appointment who hasn't received a get a waiver from the so-called new ethical standards. Finally, Gregg drops out because after Obama selected him, he decided to strip him of one of his major responsabilities and has utterly failed to compromise with any ecomnomic measures (And holding meetings and listening to the other side is not a compromise, you have to actually modify your proposal for it to be a compromise).

    February 13, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  18. Richard

    We've have been lied to more by Obama than any other President. He already broke all his campaign promises.

    February 13, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  19. mark

    It's amusing that so many liberals praised CNN polls when they liked the results, and criticize when they don't like the results. Obama is slipping. The Kool-Aid isn't as sweet. I don't want my $10,000 to go to saving the Marsh Mouse or a waterpark in Louisiana.

    If liberals feel sorry- feel free to cut a check from your $$$. I pay my bills- leave my wallet alone!!!!!!!

    February 13, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  20. Al Phillips


    I totally agree with your comment. The man has been president less than a month and he's being hammered on all fronts for some events he has no control over. People Rome was not built in a day and this mess we are in didn't manifest itself over night. This economic mess we are has been cooking for decades and is the result of greed and carelessness instigated by corporations, bankers, politicians and yes us the everyday american people. It is not one political parties fault we are in this mess, but its going to take both parties and every independent/moderate to get us out of it. Everyone wants that silver bullet or magic cure that fixes everything. Guess what people, it doesn't exist for the economic crisis we are in. It's going to take sacrifices from us all and above all cooperation. Unfortunately I think the society we live in today has forgotten the meaning of those two words. Give our, and I repeat that word our, president more than a month before we condemn every effort he is making to better all of our lives.

    February 13, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  21. Libertarian

    Please.....this is Gregg's fault. Obama tried to cross party lines and make decisions for America. Gregg simply bent to the Repubs wanting to make a circus out of this. What happen to Country first? They are looking out for their right to GERRYMANDERING!!!! Where is "America" in that?

    February 13, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  22. Ritas

    Maybe Obama has learned that Republicans are the cause of this horrendous mess we're in so stay away from them. We don't need more of their obstructionism, especially in the Cabinet.

    February 13, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  23. Republicans Hate America

    They are about themselves and their money. They hate the children so they fight against educating them, well American children not the children of Iraq. They hate the sick, well the American sick not the sick in other countries because they run to help them. Tsunami–Katrina. They don't want Obama to do well and how do I know, well they say that they want him too.
    Hey Republicans this is American Love It Or Leave It as I have heard all of my life from you haters. You are a sick bunch and I hate you too. I wish I could run you all into the sea like the pigs in the bible that you claim to live by.
    Never give in Mr. President. NEVER

    February 13, 2009 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  24. Matt, Minneapolis

    I'm sorry but 76% think he's doing a good job handling foreign policy? He hasn't touched foreign policy. If people are naive enough to think that talking about Iran for 20 second is foreign policy then thats too bad. He hasn't touched on Sri Lanka, Congo, Sudan, Georgia, N. Korea.

    During the campaign he said presidents need to be able to multi task, well that means handling both foreign and domesitc issues. Not just handling multiple domestic issues. I'd love to hear him say what the policy of the gov't will be with regards to these issues but I doubt we will any time soon.

    February 13, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  25. Ken

    Hey little Markie (12:49). Wow, you've memorized Limbaugh's talking points. Congratulations. Now back to reality, with a couple of questions for you: (i) have any of the [D]s in your list been convicted of the offense you so carelessly charged them with? and (ii) you surely don't want me to respond with the much LONGER list of [R]s who have actually been CONVICTED for real crimes recently, do you?

    The intellectual bankrupcy that goes along with being a rightwinger is just stunning.

    February 13, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
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