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

Poll: Trouble signs for Obama over Cabinet picks?

Obama's second pick for Commerce Secretary, Sen. Judd Gregg, withdrew his nomination Friday.

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. Farrell, Houston, Tx


    February 13, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  2. FreeNLovIt

    Did the sky fall? If no. Who cares. In my list of prioritization, we are all still ALIVE.

    February 13, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  3. Zion

    Mike in Houston, Obama is not a Liberal. Republicans are not standing by Obama because they want him to fail, the end. I want Obama to continue extending a hand of bipartisanship to the Republicans because we have to realize that change does not come easily. These old antiquated white men (Democrats and Republicans) are use to things being a certain way, and their ideas will simply have to die through re-electing new leaders.

    February 13, 2009 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  4. Audrey

    All of the name calling and pointing the finger is not going to solve anything. It certainly won't help the economy. We have a President that is trying to help bring us out of this mess. Stop being so critical! Don't you realize that if he fails, we fail. He's trying to help us. If he is a success, we are a successful as well. All of the negative things that are being said about him really saddens me. On the surface, we've come a long way. America's biggest problem is not the economy, it's the hardened hearts of the people that live in America.
    When our hearts and attitudes change, we will see the change we so desperately want and need.

    February 13, 2009 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  5. Mike

    His biggest weakness? How is it Obama's weakness when he has set unprecedented ethics standards which are now creating an issue when the dirt gets dug up on some of these guys. Look, that's what happens when you set a precedent like that for politicians. Your going to find some who may be the best for the job from an education and experience standpoint but that doesn't mean they are saints. So if you set the rule there like Obama did then you are going to have to realize that your pool of choosing the right person for the right job just got exponentially smaller. Then there is the Republicans who want to do everything in their power to see this man fail period. That is their agenda. Nevermind the country and people losing jobs and their homes so long as they make Obama look bad. They had their chance to show the American people that they aren't just saying "no" but had real alternatives and good ideas but they blew it with their only suggestion being the dead horse known as "tax cuts". It's time for them to realize this is their one chance to work with a president who really wants bipartisanship so they need to put the grudges aside and help make things happen as that is the only way they are going to increase their political stock.

    February 13, 2009 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  6. atimebandit

    It is almost impossible to find one good person when you are picking from politicians. It is impossible to find enough good people to fill the cabinet.

    February 13, 2009 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  7. Judy Gafford


    We all understood that it was going to be hard for anyone who
    became President to undo the mess Bush created. You reporters along with the Republican Party are the biggest problems, the Republican Party does not want Obama to look like he is doing anything right no matter how right it is. I would like to now where all these Republican do goodies the last eight years, not one of them
    stood up to Bush or went public about the wrong he was doing not even the Justice department. Our America is not America any longer,
    the Republican Party is a problem and so is the news casters.
    America need to join together not create problems so it takes longer to recover.
    We have had problems with every Republican President for the last 60 years, not one has left America better off they have dug deeper holes for us, they helped create the slums while raking in the big money.
    I am not a Democrat or Republican, I am for the person. I did not vote for either of the Bush Presidents because I knew they were liars
    stealer's cheaters but daddy buys their way out of some really horrible things they have done, Bush W. had never even earned one "C" all his years in school, daddy bought the kids grades, reserves grade "C",
    College he was kicked out of for drug and drinking parties, daddy paid four million dollars so Bush W. could walk at graduation, Bush W. failed at every business venture, I knew this but all proof is lost, way back when he ran for Governor, Chaney came up with the IQ test of
    96 for Bush W.
    Shame on the Republican Party and newscasters, we need to ;be real Americans not greedy users

    February 13, 2009 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  8. Sniffit

    @ Barbara

    Pray all you want...if the past 8 years aren't evidence enough for you people that God's not listening, then I don't know what is.

    February 13, 2009 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  9. Maxine

    You know going into a job that you might not agree with what your boss does, but that ishow you work as a team, with different ideas. I think he was setting Obama up. He said he was interested, knew what the stimuls package had in it and still wanted the job, now after talking with GOP leaders he changes his mind....where I come from I think I smell a skunk in the hen hous.

    February 13, 2009 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  10. littleone


    February 13, 2009 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  11. Jackie

    O'bama's not governing, he's still and already campaigning for next go around.

    February 13, 2009 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  12. Libertarian

    Anyone see this article today?


    February 13, 2009 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  13. Rick

    It certainly seems that the Obama supporters are out to muzzle dissent. How dare anyone speak out against the great St. Barack, who was elected with less than 55% of the popular vote. Remember, it was not unanimous.

    I hope Obama succeeds. We'll all be better off for it. However, that does not hide the fact that he has had some serious problems in vetting picks for some of the top jobs in this country. Far more than we've seen in any previous adminstration – Dem or Rep.

    It is not "picking on him" to point out this problem. First and foremost, Obama is now CEO of USA, Inc. and its chief spokesman. One of the key ingredients in success for this position is to chose as your staff those who are most qualified and have the highest ethical standards. If you can't do that, or your picks coninually show up with problems, it undermines your credibility and ability to do your job and represent yourself to others (Congress, Heads of State, Corporate leaders, etc). Again, hopefully he'll overcome this before the damage gets too severe, but this is not a good sign thus far.

    February 13, 2009 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  14. Goreful

    One word:


    To the hypocrites crying out that we're critical of Obama....he wanted the job...so he's getting the load. Be a man and take it.

    February 13, 2009 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  15. Bob Butler

    What about Obama's basketball buddy? Obama wouldn't even let his own kids go to schools managed by Duncan. 17% of 8th grade students reading at grade level, in favor of gay only schools, and serious corporal punishment being handed out by teachers. Arne Duncan is a joke.... so is Barry's judgement.

    February 13, 2009 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  16. marty

    Is it really that difficult to fill the two Cabinet positions with qualified Democrats? Or is it just that difficult to find two Democrats that have actually paid their taxes?!?

    February 13, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  17. go away mongers -Ventura CA

    I believe his attempt at bipartisanship is nice, but the gop and it's immovable positions make it rough- when it comes to tax problems, millions of Americans have them. Let's just get on with it.

    February 13, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  18. FAYE, NV

    For pete sake give the man a break and let up please. It seem as thou the media and Repubs want the President to fail. As long as the Repubs want money and hand outs to the rich all is okay.

    President Obama is bold and honest enough to at least attempt to keep the public informed while the Bush Adm kept things secretly.

    No the President is not God but at least he is trying to do Godly acts to save this country inwhich the Repubs have destroyed. And, now they do not want to work with President Obama because he is looking out for the future of this USA.

    February 13, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  19. gt

    he cant find anyone who hasent cheated on there taxes

    February 13, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  20. bill b. from Stratford,Ct

    Some of u people here just kill me. Here this guy ( Obama ) has been in office for 3 1/2 weeks and already some of you are saying these things, but Killer Bush and his criminal buddies have run this country in the ground over the last 8yrs and none of you and the media has said anything bad about that idiot bush. 2 wars, thousands dead, billions of dollars stolen, hurricane katrina, banking system collapse, housing mortgage melt down, kidnapping people from their home land, torture, exposing CIA names when their undercover ( Valarie Plum ), invading another country, calling people terrorist when they knew they were not, justice department cover-up, firing people b/c they wouldn't go along with lies, stealing elections (2), and with all these criminal things, some of you don't see nothing wrong with that, it's just Obama fault. Lets be real here, if its WHITE its alright, meaning when a white guy does it its ok, look the other way.

    February 13, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  21. JP Bless

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

    I totally agree. Remember Clinton's first few months in office... he tried to appease republicans and that nearly derailed his presidency. Clinton became a great president after he learned to fight back. Trying to appease republicans is like trying to fill up a bottomless pit.

    February 13, 2009 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  22. CNN your bias is showing...

    could you spin this any more negatively?

    I bet most presidents would kill to have these approval numbers at this stage.

    Give him some credit!

    February 13, 2009 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  23. Carrie

    Three weeks in facing the range of challenges the president is doing a good job. You seem to be looking for perfection here. He has shown competence so far and the public supports his efforts so this article is a non-issue.

    February 13, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  24. Todd (not the Alaska Separatist)

    Repugs, you lost! Now get out of the way while we fix America. The country is clearly no longer "center-right", otherwise McSame and that awful woman from Alaska would be in charge and we would be continuing our plunge into further ruin. Face it Repugs, there are no longer enough ignorant Limbaugh-dupes trained to look the other way while greedy CEOs plunder our treasury in the US.

    February 13, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  25. Andy

    Ignore the left wing liberal media and their pet polls.

    February 13, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
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