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. Former Republican Voter


    I hope you will post often. I am a democrat. I read the ticker comments because I like to 'hear' the thoughts of different minds but my own. I appreciate the expression of opinions in a forum. Unfortunately there seems to be a lot of extremes writing these comments though – and I think that is why you see such radical reactions (its wrong, i am not excusing it here) - so maybe if us "not radicals" voiced up, we would all be better off, for a real, respectful, across-any-isle national conversation!

    February 13, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  2. Joel Parkes

    Why not have a poll asking if polls influence those who answer pollsters? Fer cryin' out loud! Enuff already! This ridiculous fascination with polls upon polls makes me think that the media thinks most of us are gullible, shallow, ill-informed people who ... wait a minute. They might have a point there...

    February 13, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  3. Mike Kelly

    Oh come now. So what is the split on independent voters. Man, you really have to work to find a weakness in this President's approval numbers. Several cabinet messes and he still gets 61%.
    Aren't you trying to argue with the data?

    February 13, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  4. bluesky

    Hey Mike in Huston its better be fringe left and correct than fringe right and wrong for 8 years with Bushwacker and oiled Dick Cheney scammer.

    February 13, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  5. Angry In Illinois

    Regardless of who you voted for....when the Titanic sank – it didn't matter what color or species the rat was – they ALL drowned!

    I see this ship sinking.

    February 13, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  6. Gary

    I think there are just a few too many polls. A lot of them are just media fodder.

    February 13, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  7. FreeNLovIt

    Look at this " COLUMBUS, Ohio – Oil broke out of a weeklong slump Friday, soaring 10 percent, as traders prepared for a long Presidents Day weekend." STUPID OIL!! iT crashed the economy and held everyone hostage. Hopefully this tax cuts arent going to them. Right now, oil should be $1.20 why the heck is it 2.00?

    February 13, 2009 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  8. lmc in Seattle

    Gregg's sudden change of mind sure is suspicious. Either he doesn't think things through very well to begin with or this was all planned.

    February 13, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  9. JoAnn

    This is a GOP setup from the beginning....we the people know what the real deal is....the GOP wants Obama to fail....they are so afraid this african american is going to show them how to really run a country they can't stand it!!!!

    February 13, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  10. Wolf-Woman Palin Charlotte, NC

    CNN: "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."
    Give me a break CNN. You pick out the one low (low?) statistic and create a headline. I would take these ratings anytime.
    I bet Congress would love to have them.

    February 13, 2009 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  11. Gary

    Let's cut him a break! Obama is just learning the job. It'll take him a while to get his bearings. He is not any more or less competent than Bush was (Although the media wants you to believe he is). Obama is just a person. He'll make the same mistakes that other presidents make, no big deal. The biggest deal in my mind is he ran on fiscal responsibility and now wants to saddle our children with huge debt for a stimulus package that is full of pork and will not help the economy. I was very optimistic about Obama until I've heard his crazy rhetoric about spending and stimulus. I don't care about these minor missteps, I hope that he is a 1 term president because he sold out to the big government spending approach that we know doesn't work. Obama has really disappointed me.

    February 13, 2009 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  12. Oh! The Irony

    Glennis February 13th, 2009 12:23 pm ET

    I can't remember a time when I've seen such disorganization and ineptitude in trying to establish a cohesive administration. What a circus act.

    Is this the first time you've paid attention to presidential politics?

    February 13, 2009 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  13. Sniffit

    @ aware

    Something about which you may not be "aware"...most likely becaue Bush barely did it and when he did he did a horrible job of it...is that it is the President's job to "campaign" for legislation he thinks is extremely important to the welfare of our country and its citizens. He is doing precisely what he is supposed to be doing by reaching out to the American people to put pressure on their representatives to do what they should, not just what is politically profitable. Grow up.

    February 13, 2009 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  14. salala

    A picture is worth a thousand words. Take a good, close look at the photo of Gregg and observe the disconnect between what his eyes try to conceal and the faint smile at the corner of his mouth. He knew from the start that his ideology did not match the President's. His task from the GOP was to act as a mole and he did the deed. But we all know what they say about payback.......

    February 13, 2009 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  15. Reggie

    Holding superbowl parties at the White House and going to Capital Hill is not bipartisan. It's cheerleading. The reason why the stimulus bill only received three Republican Senator's votes (and those are being bemoaned by the House Democrats since their dear political agenda bill was – only somewhat – revised) is that no Republican input was permitted in the House bill. Bipartisanship requires listening to BOTH sides and incorporating their views. Not listening to one side and then expecting that because they were invited to a Superbowl party that the other side was just going to go along with the bill so as to put a happy face on what Congress is doing to (not for) the U.S.

    February 13, 2009 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  16. billy-bayou

    the only thing the poll says is that 61% of the people polled think it is acceptable to have tax cheats and liers in charge of running the nation.

    February 13, 2009 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  17. Nick

    To CNN Staff
    Your Headlines for these articles, are at times confusing and misleading. President Obama cabinet picks are not a reflection of failure or inexperience on his part. The President's picks to date are outstanding. However, the few missteps might be the result of the needs for quick action due to our current economic problems. As I recall most recent Presidents took 3 to 6 months to fill their cabinet spots. So forget you sometime misleading headlines and make positive headlines instead.

    February 13, 2009 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  18. Lily

    rich – The republicans did.t destroy America; people like you did. Try taking your blinders off so you can see what 's going on. Putting Obama in office was a huge mistake. Mike in Houston is right along with the other bloggers who know Obama is a One-worlder before American.

    February 13, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  19. Perusing-through


    No incoming President in American history has endured the brutal scrutiny and flaming hot crucible as President Obama is now enduring. The media hypocrites like 'FAUX' News, Talk Radio, and conservative pundits said little to nothing about Bush-Cheney failures that allowed this national disaster; but now they are whining like babies with Obama at the helm. Obama can't exhale without the media scrutinizing his breath with silly debates about whether he has fulfilled his campaign promises, or whether he is truly bipartisan?!? Enough already!!!

    February 13, 2009 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  20. rc

    agreed RJ

    In the same position here. Some of the comments here stating Republicans hate america and need to go jump off a cliff are really starting to annoy me. I'm a recent college grad, making less than 100k per year, and asian american... you can bet i don't fit in with all the other republicans that really are a drag on the party...

    February 13, 2009 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  21. Marc

    I like Joan's idea: save first! Our entire society has gotten into this mess gradually over the past several decades by adopting the opposite approach: accumulate all you can – and freely do it on credit. People are in houses they can't really affort, they drive luxury cars they can't really afford, stopped saving and ran up their credit to the max to fund it all. Everyone has a great "look good" and now "the chickens are coming home to roost". I'm sorry, but spending our way out of this mess (by taking out huge government loans!) just sounds less and less like the right thing to do.

    February 13, 2009 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  22. Dave from Leesburg, Va


    February 13, 2009 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  23. David P. Kronmiller

    It's a shame that Obama's attempts at bi-partisanship have been met with so much resistance by the Republicans. The Republicans have proven to be ineffective after the last 8 years and here again they prove their losing merit. Standing in line behind Rush Limbaugh should be proof enough of their misguided intentions, but sadly so many of their supporters do not understand the harm this old party has done to this good country.

    February 13, 2009 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  24. lil

    The republican are showing president Obama the same support that
    the southern congress showed Abe Lincoln and you know what they
    did. They tried to form their own country.
    What does this look like? a party of separating from its country and
    are only for themselves. Maybe Gregg resigned because he will be
    the republican president.

    February 13, 2009 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  25. djee

    what happed to cutting government spending ?????? have you all forgotten the promises he made to cut government spending come on wake up and see this is really going to hurt all the main street people and only help the big banks walstreet not you and me.

    February 13, 2009 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
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