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. Ron San Bruno, Ca

    It should have read , If the GOP feels your a threat . Three little letters can reall make a difference for moderation . Sorry

    February 13, 2009 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  2. Dave

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

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

    Too late there Greg. The darth/shrub/rummy/gonzo/rove fiasco is ALREADY known as the THE GREAT AMERICAN MISTAKE

    February 13, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  3. Canadian soccer mom

    President Obama has been working very hard to reach across to Republicans. Unfortunately, Senator Gregg has slapped his hand away and even more unfortunate the Republican base will congratulate him for doing so. How can President Obama accomplish anything while the other side has it in their heart to see him fail to their benefit in 2012. It is a conflict of interest that is a detriment to the American people. It is immature and irresponsible.

    February 13, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  4. what the heck

    Jeff from Jersey: Nice........

    February 13, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  5. Sue

    I love Mike, TCM, and the other people convinced Obama is ruining the country in a mere 26 days! He IS good! It took Bush 2 whole years to convince the country that we had to be scared of our own shadows and trust him, Cheney and Rumsfeld to do what was best, i.e., spend 10 BILLION monthly in Iraq forever, let our soldiers be killed by terrorists who organized and enlisted BECAUSE we were in Iraq, be immune from anger when they listened to every single conversation in America without warrants, convinced peace loving Americans that it was perfectly OK to torture other human beings (you know, those ones Bush determined were 'evil'"-guess he thought he was God as well.) And you guys are worried about what Obama is doing to dig us out of these catastrophes? Why, because your GOD RUSH tells you Obama is "arrogant" and "socialist?" You guys need to wake up.

    February 13, 2009 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  6. Lilarose in Bandon, Oregon

    I think Obama needs to reevaluate and maybe change who he has on the vetting team for his cabinet positions.

    Something is not working at that level.

    February 13, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  7. Jay from Texas

    Obama's team looks very good so far (and not just the Cabinet).

    Look at his economic advisers. Paul Volcker heading the Economic Recovery Advisory Board, Larry Summers (who should have been Treasury Secretary) heading the National Economic Council, and Timothy Geithner as Treasury Secretary. These are all men of top tier brilliance.

    The composition of the Cabinet so far seems to imply a focus on getting brilliant analytical minds with strong credentials into most of the positions. Certain other administrations have been more about getting partisans into the roles and then firing them if they say something the President doesn't like or doesn't think is popular. Remember Joycelyn Elders?

    While it's hard to judge Obama's overall performance so far, as he has not been President for long, one of his strongest points has been the appointments he has made, and his prizing of intelligent experts over party loyalists gives me optimism about how he will govern over the next four to eight years.

    February 13, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  8. Gabriel Danaher

    Couple of Points – Judd Gregg leaves a lot to be desired – He knew what he wanted when he put him name forward but Rush – The GODFATHER called and ended that........we will never know

    The comment earlier is somewhat true – the optimism is waning but then again we are not a month into the presidency- oh but the media isnt saying that........cause that isnt a story........drama central and CNN leads the pack.......

    Lastly The Obama team needs to make sure it isnt perceived as being too smart but not street savvy – I know Hillary is Sec of State but maybe Hillary could offer some pointers......

    February 13, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  9. snowshoebob

    What are the things that need attention the most, well besides the housing market. I'll tell you, commerce as well as health & human services. What is Obama having a problem filling jobs for, both these things, I smell a RAT……

    The GOP is doing all it can, to destroy Obama along with america, thanks, america is watching and waiting 2010 is just around the corner!

    February 13, 2009 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  10. molehills

    Uhoh – his approval rating is very high compared to approval of his cabinet selections, looks like a problem!

    February 13, 2009 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  11. Eric C

    Well, well, well...if we're going to have such two-party division, then let's do this right! First, define the parties: Conservative and Obamites. Second, have everyone relocate to states on the basis of party only. Third, move ALL of the Gitmo folks and ALL of the known enemies of our great nation to the Obamite states. Fourth...

    Stay tuned for my "Prison Reform Package", coming up next on many of these same Tickers...

    February 13, 2009 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  12. Lee

    Stocks DOWN over 5% this week alone. The empty suit lets Pelosi write the piggy pork spending bill. He leaves his carbon foot print all over the place flying around the country while still in campaign mode. What a moron socialist commie we have elected.

    February 13, 2009 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  13. Meka



    February 13, 2009 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  14. Chris

    To all you democrats out their looking for unity. Where was this cry for unity over the last 8 years? You are all a bunch of hipocrits. This President who I want to succed has been a total joke. His cabinet picks are an embarrasment. Pay you taxes folks that is rule number one. His first move was to help pay for overseas abortion and then free the terrorists in Guantonomo. ONE TERM!!!! REPEAT AFTER ME ONE TERM

    February 13, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  15. Kevin H

    I am tired of all the Obama Cultists posting verbal attacks on every member of the mainstream media that dares to even mildly criticize or question the actions of "the annointed one" (Obama).

    I have news for them: The media and the press is a double edged sword, and its their JOB to provide BALANCED coverage. You certainly didn't complain when they criticized and questioned Bush on every little thing, now did you?

    Deal with it.

    February 13, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  16. Joan

    Let's be honest here. President Obama kept his promise to try to bring transparency and bipartisanship to Congress. It is not in Mr. Gregg's favor to admit that he is so entrenched in his party rhetoric that he can not serve his country honorably.

    February 13, 2009 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  17. jeff

    I personally don't subscribe to a particular party, but half of these posts appear to simply be Democrats bashing Republicans. Somehow equating "free-thinkers" and "intellectuals" to Democrats.

    You define bi-partisan by who signs a bill, not by who has meaningful input. You use hateful rhetoric to call others "haters". You blame all failures of society on the other party while saying if you ran it then all would be well. You speak of tolerance and equality while arguing that those who oppose you should be left out of the process.

    This my friends is not what I would call "intellectual" or "free-thinking". It is simply the recognition of your own faults in others. This also happens to be BO's greatest weakness in my opinion.

    February 13, 2009 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  18. Terry

    Amen Johnny in DC

    February 13, 2009 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  19. Waiting for 2013

    Barack Obama = Jimmy Carter, Jr.

    February 13, 2009 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  20. James White


    February 13, 2009 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  21. Michael


    February 13, 2009 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  22. Penny

    All of you who keep putting down Obama. Where were you when Bush was running this economy into the ground? I know you'll say that it was the Dems because they had the majority for two years. Oh, and everything was so perfect prior to that under the Repubs. Nope. It amazes me how sure these people are that everything will go wrong, what do you base your findings on. inSannity and Limpball?
    This has never happened before in our lifetimes.

    You Repubs are so hardheaded – you see what doing nothing has gotten so far. I believe in being proactive – not reactive.

    February 13, 2009 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  23. G.O.P.: When you got nothing, You got nothing to lose

    Greg Smith @ 437: Whereas, Greg Smith will always be known as THE GREAT AMERICAN IDIOT from Delaware County.

    February 13, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  24. John T from SC 2


    The term is called divide and conquer.

    Keep the left and right fighting each other.

    DON"T make a stirring speech to your supporters saying how it is poison for the country,

    The left fights the right the right fights the left and no one is LOOKING AT HIM


    The man is SO GOOD at it TO. HE IS MAGIC

    February 13, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  25. John. Austin, TX

    Hey RJ:
    I just wanted to say thanks for that post.
    I am a far-left blue liberal democrat. But I appreciate your comments and I agree: we are ALL guilty, and we ALL need to clean up. I respect Republicans like you!

    February 13, 2009 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
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