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)

    Well, LIP,

    when you poll rush, hannity, oreilly, krauthammer, and rove.... laughing is PROBABLY the reaction you'll get..... duh...

    February 13, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  2. mr.mark

    while Obama's reaching across the aisle is admirable, he's received precious little cooperation from Republicans and it's just as well Gregg bailed as he would have been problematic. B-bye Gregg, go back to the scheming other side – who are no doubt livid they lost power.

    February 13, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  3. tom

    This is just playing bipartisanship for the sake of appearances – there is no change in Washington, just more of the same.

    February 13, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  4. BMA

    The Repubs Are acting Like Spoiled Brats And the Leader is THAT ONE (John McCain and Rush Limbaugh )Michael Steel is a Tool......And the thought of bipartisanship is not on the Menu.....American People are Watching You

    February 13, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  5. Missy

    I agree with A Sousley 100 percent. Gregg is either simply a flake, or he was in it to do damage to Obama. Either way, it's Gregg's fault and it says more about him that it does about the administration.

    February 13, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  6. White sheets and pointy hats

    I bet TCM will never be honest and tell us what he or she does for a living,other than post right wing comments 24/7.

    February 13, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  7. Dan

    It appauls me that no one recalls that two of the major players in the era leading up to the current economic crisis are leading this country today. They were Senators in "key decision making positions" with plenty of "experience making the hard decisions".

    The facts on the ground ... They have offered NO details on their plans to help this economy other than spending money. THAT is ALL either of them and the leadership at the helm now has EVER come up with to solve the issues facing this country.

    It is unfortunate that those who have ideas that don't involve spending money without a plan or accountability are thought of as not caring for the people of this country. The truth is, we care more about ALL of us – those with AND without the means to support themselves.

    Unless this administration with the handout mentality wises up, the 20th century depression will look like a walk in the park compared to where they are leading us.

    An administration that cannot provide a plan with any details after four weeks is not one reflecting the leadership or intellect this country needs to go forward in a direction that will stimulate any economy.

    February 13, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  8. Paul

    Picking a Republican was definitely a mistake, so I can understand people's frustration. Obama may want to be bipartisan, but most Americans are sick and tired of the GOP and the mess they've gotten us into.

    February 13, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  9. therealmarie

    CNN, this is soo self defeating. PO won the election. All that are fair minded and have followed your daily ticker and other news reporting, know that he was not corporate media'spick. But he is President now and our country is in a financial weaked state. To get out of this mess we all will have to come together. He is just three weeks in office and everyday (EVERYDAY) your network try and find something no matter how big or small to critize him. Where will this get us all collectively? All thisdoes is further stir up raw hatred, devision and contempt. Unfriendly nations need lay in wait because our selfishness, greed,racism will consume us all. You don't have to kiss his a$$ but don't let your constant demeaning and undermining reporting get our nation's a## kicked.

    February 13, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  10. Sniffit


    Gregg: more of the same.

    February 13, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  11. Veteran in Kansas

    Trying to be bipartisan has it's draw backs. Gregg, what a cop out. I don't thing Obama wants a bunch of cabinet seecretaries that minic his every move or word. He wants secretaries that are going to tell it like it is wheather it follows what he wants or not. That is called leadership. I think Gregg was getting heat from the Republican Party, what an opportunity lost, to have a differing point of view placed into the discussion, how un-Republican. Would everyone be happy if he had filled all the Cabinet Posts with no problems only to sit back and see only one point of view represnted in the cabinet.

    February 13, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  12. republicans hate america

    well Bush supposedly had the dream team around him and look where that took us

    February 13, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  13. Smart People

    That’s funny; the right wingers on this board keep saying he will be impeached soon, and that he is already going to go down as the worst president in history. Perhaps they are reaching a little too far. Of course these are the same people who brought us the Bush and Cheney show! Keep yelling guys; maybe you can bring his approval down to like 74%.

    February 13, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  14. Casey | Sebastopol, CA

    This whole Gregg thing was planned – how lame of the GOP to resort to such tactics. It simply shows they continue to have nothing to offer.

    February 13, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  15. J

    Just why does Obama HAVE to prove anything. As far a I am concerned, he can pick anyone he chooses--- he`s the PRESIDENT.. Following Bush, anyone is an improvement----

    February 13, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  16. Barack wins America collectively loses

    These guys are such amateurs. We all lose with Barack.

    Thank God for re-elections.

    February 13, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  17. Jill

    Republicans are stuck in the 1980's – just look at the last election and their solutions to the economic crisis. They're one trick ponies with no new ideas and no ability to look outside the box.

    Obama inherited a horrenous mess. He's been in office less than 1 month and has done a great job considering the circumstances. He's still got pretty overwhelming support – even with the republican anchors tied around his neck.

    I'm proud of the President and the job he's been doing – and apparently so are the majority of Americans.

    February 13, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  18. thomas

    The biggest problem in picking the perfect person for a job is that there is no such thing as a perfect person. Sometimes one's greatest flaws are overlooked for the sake of propiety and superficial morality..

    February 13, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  19. Jim

    He's still campaigning. Of course, it's the only thing he's ever done. He should start paying attention and govern!! He wasn't elected to stump. He very much likes listening to himself.

    February 13, 2009 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  20. therealmarie

    I never thought I would say this but, I can now see why Pres. Bush treated the media the way he did. They are children.

    February 13, 2009 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  21. charles

    President Obama forget this bipartisan thing. Extend your hand where you can but obviously the republican have one agenda, " Your Failure!!!" so please just handle your business and jam your agenda down their throats. The American people have spoken so democrats get it togeher!!!!

    February 13, 2009 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  22. Peggy - TX

    Yes the Dashel and Gregg nominations were a bit of a fiasco. Tack up two points for the Republican war machine effort to diminish Obama’s extraordinary popularity.

    Unfortunately, rather then negotiate and this force many compromises with the democrats, the Grand Old Party has gone senile, and in their last throws befor death, they are leashing out in any and every pathetic manner at their disposal, even if it means severely hurting the United States of Americans in the process

    It will take a few more years and another two land slide losses of the Presidential elections, for the Grand Old Party to finally retire its old ways, scorched Earth politic, and to find legitimate purpose.

    February 13, 2009 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  23. Ray Ray

    A Sousley writes,

    "This in no way is Pres. Obama's fault, this is Gregg's fault."

    Hey Einstein – read much? Obama extracted the Census from Senator Gregg's role of Commerce Secretary – a clear signal that Obama and his cohorts didn't want a white republican in charge of the next Census.

    Sorry, but Obama the dictator owns this failed nomination!

    February 13, 2009 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  24. tee

    Mike in Houston
    What are the republicans policies? As I watch the debates about the stimulus plan, the repubs keep saying they have a better plan, but never say what that plan is. Just like the election. The only thing I see them doing is putting bad spin on the democratic plan. Doing nothing , saying nothing will be disasterous to this nation.
    Face it, the repubs needs to step into the 21 century in order for this country to progress. If tax cuts were the anwser we would not be in this mess I WOULD BE WILLING TO LISTEN IF THEY JUST SAY SOMETHING!!!!! THEY HAVE NO CLUE!!!!!!

    February 13, 2009 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  25. Angie

    You got what you paid for. An enexperienced politician that has no idea how to run a county. Also, no one will report about him taking the census from the Commerce Department and giving it to his cronie Rahn Immanuel. You think that might have thrown up a red flag? Has Cnn reported on it? You do the math. But oh that wouldn't make a good story.

    February 13, 2009 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
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