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. Aaron

    The main mistake Obama made is how he negotiated with Republicans. They don't understand the economy or this country's needs. He put their ideas in there, he can't walk them through their jobs.

    February 13, 2009 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  2. sammieb51

    With all this guy has had going on in his 1st TWENTY-FOUR days in office, I think he is doing a great job, cabinet selections included. I, like many Americans, sincerely hope he can get the country back on track, unite us, and lead us to a brighter future than DUFUS. I for one stood and cheered during his press conference earlier in week when he said "I inherited this mess" and "I don't want to listen to the folks that put us here" and "doing nothing is irresponsible policy/position for government to take". The country has needed a leader for a long time that can stand up and say what is what and by God he did it. Amen Brother - keep on keeping on!

    February 13, 2009 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  3. Daphne

    I love it. Obama still has most of the country on his side, thinking he's doing a good job under the circumstances (and the circumstances are extraordinary) and the headline reads "Trouble signs for Obama?"

    You wish!

    February 13, 2009 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  4. j

    Gregg was never the right man for the job. Now that Obama can get someone QUALIFIED for the job and quit playing politics.

    February 13, 2009 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  5. Sue

    I think Bush and Cheney started all this economy mess so that everybody would be busy trying to fix the economy instead of going after him and forgetting about the illegal way he took us to war in Irag

    February 13, 2009 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  6. donald Masten

    All my 7 exchange students we have had in the years past called and e-mailed me to congratulate the U.S. for electing Obama. Most of the world was happy to see Obama win. Now we still have a split country. The next time the south fires on Ft. Sumpter, They can have there own country! We'll build a wall.... this Yankee is tired of those narrow minded fools. WE are all in this together, the whole world! not a dime of the stimulus bill should go south of the Mason Dixson line.

    February 13, 2009 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  7. Greg Smith, Clifton Heights PA

    The Obama administration will be known as THE GREAT AMERICAN MISTAKE.

    February 13, 2009 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  8. Marg.

    There is no trouble for Obama in making his cabinet picks. It is a problem for CNN because all you are looking for is a story. CNN can't come up with any real news, so you knit pick on anything that Obama is or has done in his three weeks in office. Give him and me a break quit being a gossiper and fill us in on real political facts about the Obama and his administration. Again, Obama has only been in office for three weeks.

    February 13, 2009 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  9. once upon a horse

    My God is there going to be a poll on this man EVERY week? So far there has been since he took office. Anyone with common sense knows that poll numbers go up and down everyday because most Americans are so fickle they change their minds every 5 mins. The only thing constant so far is that the far right that don't support the president still don't and the others that support him still do. Surely these pollsters have something else to do than this.

    February 13, 2009 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  10. lotta muni

    Somethings I like, some I dont'. I like Obama's choices, but wonder where the change is, with all of these democratic party insiders he's picking. He's also picked some republicans, but they are hardly bipartisan folks. These are moderates, and he's trying to lean them to the left. bi-partisan means pickig from both sides and getting them to meet in the middle.
    Obama's grade is a C- at best

    February 13, 2009 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  11. LM

    It looks like the repubs are playing a dangerous game here–one of the most dangerous they could play (and it's with our lives)!!

    It appears their plan is to do their best to see that our economy fails!
    And, along with it, our very livlihood, homes, health (care) and lives may fail also, Do they care? NO!

    Please, notify your representatives and senators that you will not stand for this selfish attitude among our elected officials!!

    February 13, 2009 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  12. Rosie

    He may have weaknesses, but for sure, one of them is not a lack of love for the media.

    February 13, 2009 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  13. zach

    gregg stepping down is rediculous. He knew when he accepted the nomination that there would be policy differences between Obama and him. He is trying to make Obama look bad

    February 13, 2009 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  14. leVodge

    Lets put Rush Limbaugh as Secretary of Commerce, yeah right!!! I hope Obama puts a democrat in for the replacement since republicans are being so stubborn!!

    February 13, 2009 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  15. Matthew, Detroit

    This is a token presidency.

    He does not even show up for work. But he just loves flying on the big jet. Barack is a joke. I really thought and hoped he would be better than this.

    I did not think I would have missed Hillary or maybe the wife cheater Edwards, but either would have been better.

    February 13, 2009 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  16. indy

    Why blame the Republicans alone for rushing through the bailout bill in the Fall. Didn't the Democrats hold the majority in both houses of Congress? Both Presidential candidates said something had to be done immediately and wasn't the currenty Secretary of the Treasury working for the Fed in New York? If he's the smartest person for that job, he must have known what was going on with the first $350 billion. We only need to be patient for his plan for the rest that will help bail out his banking friends. I'm sure he's trustworthy, it's not like he's ever not paid taxes or anything.

    February 13, 2009 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  17. barnhardt in NC

    America Last is the new Republican mantra. They're all about making Obama a one term president, even if it means the death of our nation.

    February 13, 2009 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  18. ran

    At least Obama is taking responsibility for what goes wrong unlike the Bush guy. Also, if those being selected were up front with their intentions and showed full disclosure a lot of this would not be happening. Obama is still the right guy in the right time and the Republicans need to get on board and help him or they will be even more of a minority which for me would be just fine seeing the way they continue to act.

    February 13, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  19. MIKE

    just cant wait until January 2013, republican controlled congress and someone in the white house who knows what she is doing.

    February 13, 2009 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  20. obama-mama

    Greg Smith, Clifton Heights PA February 13th, 2009 4:37 pm ET

    The Obama administration will be known as THE GREAT AMERICAN MISTAKE.

    I'm sure that's what your family say about you.

    February 13, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  21. Former Republican

    Hey Eric. I can't imagine your opinon of Bush and the Republicans after 8 years. My God Obama has only been in office one month. Give me a break!!!

    February 13, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  22. KG, Twin Cities

    Next thing you know, the Repubs will criticize his selection of beef over chicken at dinner.

    February 13, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  23. brenda131

    Sen Shelby and Session please come home your services are no longer needed.The rest of the Republicans please leave Washington and go home because you offer no solutions only obstacles .

    February 13, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  24. JB


    The republicasn ideas for the stimulus were:

    Tax cuts for home purchase (which was added) and, instead of buying back all the bad debt, offering everyone with arm mortgage a flat 4% mortgage. In addition they wanted to offer 4% mortages moving forward for home purchases.

    This 4% loan idea is much better than the government simply buying all the bad debt. I am sorry if you cannot pay your mortgage when the interest rate is fixed at 4%, you would have never been able to handle your mortgage. Many people claimed it was the arm portion that was causing the problem, but dems say that will not help. Then what dems are admitting is that those people made a poor decision, and , we as tax paying citizens should not bail those people out.

    February 13, 2009 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  25. deborah Perry

    I think the problem is with the group of utter idiots that Obama has to choose from not his weaknesses!!! What a bunch of pathetic losers we have as our public servants..... Barrack is probably scratching his head now to think of just who he can get who has any merit!

    February 13, 2009 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
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