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. kathy from PA

    President Obama has tried and tried again to include Republicans in his administration, but if they don't want to participate than he should
    cut his losses and appoint democrats to the last to positions. Gov. Sebelius would be good for Health and Human Services.

    February 13, 2009 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  2. skyser

    it does not show Obama as being weak, it shows the corruption in the government. i am glad he is being picky many things are getting ready to be exposed. i believe no weapon formed against our President shall prosper. he is covered by Jesus Christ's precious blood. the media should be shame of its self trying to get individuals against Obama. God will have the final say.

    February 13, 2009 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  3. geecee

    JohnnyDC – It's the college professors, historians, economic leaders, along with 65,000,000 Americans who voted for Obama and we are STILL glad we did!! And international figures? Well 70% of Europe preferred Obama for President.

    February 13, 2009 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  4. Dave from Canada

    Let's see. 3 weeks in office and he hasn't started any wars. That's better than the previous dummy did in 8 years.

    February 13, 2009 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  5. TheTruthHurts

    The public knows how crooked Washington is and they know Obama is trying to find someone competent yet clean. Not easy in washington. At least he's not corrupt and in the pocket of anybody. Right unions are questoning, gay rights activists are questioning and even environmentalists are questioning.

    That's a good sign. He refuses to be pigeon-holed on the ideological spectrum because our challenges are pigion-holed. He's no messiah, just a guy with a good head on his shoulders and FOCUSED on the task at hand. I know that's surprising in Washington, but that is change I can believe in.

    February 13, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  6. Mickey S

    Of Course the Honeymoon is going to be short lived, but to many it appears to crashing. The spending in the Stimulus going to turn our recession, into a long term depression. The real spending in the bill kicks in in 2010 and 2011, and not a stimulus.The Democrats are risking it all, they should not let this happen.....

    February 13, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  7. John in Virginia

    Yeah the media loves this! Running out of news? Nothing makes these idiots happier than to build people up and then tear them down. Obama has been handed one of the biggest crisis any U.S. President has had to deal with. I don't care who you are; Hillary Clinton, John McCain, or anybody: NOBODY CAN FIX THIS MESS IN 100 DAYS, PERIOD CNN. Anyone who thinks otherwise is smoking some good stuff and immediately check into rehab. Republicans and other self serving politicians and business executives have been deregulating and building this mess for DECADES. It isn't getting cleaned up in 3 months, so find some real news; the plane crash, or something. But quit making up these nonsense stories about Obama being a failure after 3 weeks. AND POST THIS CNN. I'M TIRED OF YOU BEING TOO COWARDLY TO POST WHAT I SAY.

    February 13, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  8. 61% is "weak"???

    Are you kidding?

    The GOPs would thank God on bended knee if they had any approval number that high. (Congress would too.)

    Remember, Obama only won 52% of the vote – IMO all of his numbers show a lot of strength and a lot of aisle-crossing on the public's part. Our "leaders" need to take a cue from the people.

    February 13, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |

    any one with common sense know republicans will never support the
    president,they want to see him fail also some of the democratic party
    feel the same way,those old racist hard liner will never change,the
    the republican party need young men with new ideas,they are nothing
    but a bunch of dying old men who need to be in a nursing home.

    February 13, 2009 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  10. JJ12345

    Johnny DC February 13th, 2009 4:25 pm ET

    All of those poll responses taken were from well-informed sources, right? So shocking that the numbers are all right around the same 60-70% figure that you'd expect. Just like how all the people that voted for him did it because they are familiar with his policy, right? Right.

    Bottom line is the majority of those 60% have no clue what he has or hasn't done in his first month, nor do they have a clue what he plans to do. They voted for him to make history and succeeded in doing so.

    Why do we keep polling the general public when they vote and think so superficially? Poll college professors, historians, economic leaders. Poll international figures. Stop polling dumb biased Americans who are so entrenched in their ideologies that they can't even fathom thinking about the question before answering.
    College professors and economic leaders dont have a bias? With your blather, I guess only the groups you mentioned should be allowed to vote.

    February 13, 2009 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  11. James White

    You democrats who are complaining about the poll are unbelievable. The article is supposed to be taken as a sideways (or clever) way of saying how great a job Obama is doing.

    The article is basically stating that Obama is doing such a great job that his "weakest" point (through polling) still involves a 60% approval rating. It's unbelievable that you all missed the sarcasm in calling this a weakness.

    February 13, 2009 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  12. WELCOME TO THE OBAMA SHOW!!!!!!!!!!!!




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

    @ this: "The Obama administration will be known as THE GREAT AMERICAN MISTAKE."

    the great American mistake was two Bushes and a Reagan..

    February 13, 2009 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  14. JJ12345

    Karen- Change is coming February 13th, 2009 4:17 pm ET

    President Obama is doing a excellent job in such a short timeā€¦

    To All the Negative People: What the hell did the past administration do in 8 years? NADDA! I'm sick all of the Republican Right wingers who obviously want this President to fell.. What we all can do is make it a 60 count seat in 2010. Honestly, lets get the Republicans out of the Senate because they drove this country in the ground by only looking out for the wealthy.
    If you think the problems we face in this country are only to blame on one party you are misguided. These issues are more complicated than "the Bush tax cut." You dont think that Barny Frank and Chris Dodd had anything to do with the financial crisis? One thing is that politicians NO MATTER THE PARTY want power and will do anything to get it. The Democrats are not immune to this so quit acting like they are. This bill has not been debated and who knows if it will work at all.

    February 13, 2009 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  15. jim

    Stop polling morons that do not know what Obama is doing.
    I would like a poll that asks them questions to find out how many really know what Obama is doing.
    I would suspect that only 30% even know whats going on they just like obama and do not care what he is doing until its to late.

    February 13, 2009 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  16. Indigo

    Those poll numbers if you go to poll.com will show that the only ones that had president Obama at 80 percent was CNN. That way they could make it appear that he is losing support. Well it won't happen. Thank God for all of us that have our prayers going up for him. He will be shielded from the CNN's and all the Rush Limbaughs that want him to fail because of a much high power. The president is not in trouble over his cabinet picks, just wait and see.

    February 13, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  17. Carol - AR

    Anybody out there ever hear of the DOUBLE STANDARD? It's hard to believe how so many of these postings are so blatantly double standard (from both Rep. and Dem). People need to play back Obama's campaign speeches. He, too, has a double standard. And he's NOT God. He can't possibly do for people what he's promising.

    February 13, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  18. Once you vote Black

    What ever happened to PUMA?

    February 13, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  19. yuri

    RJ's Comments at 12:46 pm EST was a thought provoking one. There is amply demonstrable evidence that past 8 years of GOP's strategies have not been effective. The economy is in dire straits, to put it mildly and brusquely.

    Now, if you sit back, cut taxes, do nothing, and expect the market forces to fix the situation, it ain't gonna happen in this generation. Something has gotta be initiated. The current bill is not picture perfect, but consider it as a stop gap.

    The GOP politicians are unanimously unified in opposing it. They, pitifully, do not seem to have a viable solution, either. Spewing vituperations, vitriols, and malice towards anybody supporting the bill, is not an attractive proposition. Some of the talk show hosts from the ulraconservative, diehard right wingers have, exactly, been doing that.

    They ought to tone down their malicious rhetoric and talk like civilized human beings. If not God save America.

    February 13, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  20. linda

    MSNBC has the best news ever-it is all I look at especially Keith, & Racheal-they tell the truth,never look at FOX,Cnn needs to do better of course Fox is a Republican station and they are nasty and dumb,never get the facts just speculate the news-someone is doing something wrong or either their is a conspiracy with the republicans how many times can people be wrong in nominating others,something is wrong somewhere with all these people getting rejected when nominated-whuz up with this- his cabinet needs to do the 411 on whom ever they pick, & Obama needs to double check these folks before they are even considered for nomination-I still say something is not right somewhere their is a "Judas"

    February 13, 2009 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  21. pam

    Johnny DC – Actually, most of us who voted for and approve of Obama are educated. It's ignorance that elected Bush & we learned our lesson. Obviously,. you need to follow your own advice because if you polled the college professors, historians, economic leaders & international figures, you'd see that the polls come out just about the same, if not even more approvingly.

    February 13, 2009 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  22. Caligirl

    Pat H February 13th, 2009 12:01 pm ET

    Can six out of ten people really be so deluded as to think that recycled Clinton people represent change?

    After the 8 years of peace and prosperity America got with Bill,the entire Administration is welcome back as far as I'm concerned.

    February 13, 2009 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  23. joyce

    In agreement with Independent_me. Having Gregg in the Commerce Dept. was a pretty clever ruse for attempts to influence the census in 2010 for Republican mischief. He was a fox in the henhouse!

    February 13, 2009 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  24. James White

    People backlashing against the poll because the words weakness and Obama are in the same sentence need to get a grip.

    February 13, 2009 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  25. Greg Smith is Dumb

    Greg Smith is an absolute imbecile.

    February 13, 2009 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
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