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. Barbara

    At least President Obama tried to be bipartisan. The Republicans are trying to sabotage the Obama's presidency...true Americans will not let that happen. Sorry, he still has a great approval rating.

    February 13, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  2. DEE


    Where have you been for the last 8 years? Ineptitude? Surely you jest.

    February 13, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  3. Tiff of lithia springs

    Well the alternative was to have an aging McCain with Palin to back him up.

    I would rather Obama have his mistakes now in the midst of the mess he was left.

    February 13, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  4. Jick

    We should start the impeachment hearings today , BHO has broken every promise except closing Gitmo, that has not really happened either. Wait until you all actually learn whats in democrat porkulus bill

    February 13, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  5. Paul

    It is sad to watch the ruination of certain aspects of what should be a shining moment in American history. Finally, our neighbors to the South have elected a competent President; with a clear message being sent to Washington by the People. The Republican Party is absolutely unpatriotic in this regard. Very Sad Indeed.

    February 13, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  6. cheri

    Talk about selective polling! When will CNN report Rasmussen and Gallup's poll which has the stimulus and Obama's rating much lower than the one they are reporting. CNN, do responsible reporting, or are you just another NBC? We know that NBC is in bed with the Obama administration because GE is eagerly awaiting government contracts as a reward for propping up Obama. How is CNN benefiting on one sided reporting? except lose moderates or independents who can see through all the smoke and mirrors.

    February 13, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  7. Barbara

    Seems like from the poll of bloggers, President Obama's approval rating is still very high.

    I've left this message 4 times and don't know why you guys are not printing it.

    February 13, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  8. mark

    Gregg bowed out because he couldn't sell Obama's socialist agenda. I know the Dems have a problem with morals:

    Geithner- tax evasion
    Daschle- tax evasion
    Killifer- tax evasion
    Richardson- corruption
    Franken- tax evasion
    Rangel- tax evasion

    Bush is in Texas and Obama's running a circus. Why didn't we vote in Moe, Larry, and Curly.

    Dems- get over it!!!!! He said he would fix it, so it's put up or shut up time.

    February 13, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  9. ex-Texan

    Well poll this! An empty cabinet is better than what we've had. I sympathize with the president that he is trying to govern from the middle in order to achieve unity for the country, but it's apparently going to take both parties a while to grasp the concept of "cooperation". He's doing alright, trying to change the way Washington operates the way he said he would, but it's a bit of a rough haul.

    February 13, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  10. BW

    Any liberal/Democrat that is now persecuting CNN for actually reporting facts should be ashamed of yourself!

    February 13, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  11. Austin, Texas

    Stop with the divisive comments. We are all Americans and need to be apart of getting our Nation back on track for our futures!

    February 13, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  12. Airport toetappers?

    Gregg and tcm?

    February 13, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  13. mary

    He is hiding something, he owes taxes from his income that he did not pay, just like Tom Daschle. Barack Obama did not get us into this mess. The Republicans did. Barack Obama is trying to get out of this mess. The Republicans are afraid they will lose their kickbacks and underhanded monies from their underhanded cronies.

    February 13, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  14. michelle

    no wonder President Obamas polls are dropping with all the
    negativity from media and the low down republicans
    They just mire themselves in the quicksand more every day with
    their ridiculous rants ..ie..Lindsay Graham, John McCains lap puppy is rather disgusting to watch ..acting like a spoiled child with his contiuous crazzzzy rants
    Not one of them have tried to work with the president except the 3
    who came out and supported the bill
    Could they do any better pleaseeeeeeee
    *THEY made this mess* over the last 8 years so please spare the
    americans from listening to your negativity
    Keep it up pretty soon the quicksand will suck all of you in
    No one is really sure how to fix your mess but at least the President is trying

    February 13, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  15. naqib


    Honeymoon is slipping fast... along with his numbers...

    He should be around 30% by end of year... and still falling...

    It's a shame some will still have his back... even though he's already broken nearly all his promises... will spend us to oblivion... on programs that aren't going to help avg. Americans.

    Oh well... no shock... Just hide your money and hang on

    February 13, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  16. DF

    I definitely agree though, we need to unite as a nation, republicans and democrats alike are in desperate need of some serious couples counseling. Kill the labels that divide us and just shake things up already. Whites and Blacks, Red states and Blue states, Republicans and Democrats, time for a new way of doing things, come together and settle your differences and start compromising on a happy middle ground already, I am so sick of this BS.

    February 13, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  17. Cindy

    Thank goodness Sen. Judd Gregg work up and smelled the coffee!!!!!

    February 13, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  18. Gina in Racine Wi

    Okay CNN ....you are starting to sound like Foxnews......American's are standing by Obama, his policies and cabnit picks....

    keep polling and spinning.....who cares?

    No one is listening to the media anymore, anyway.

    We wanted change,....we got it. Let him do what we elected him to do.

    February 13, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  19. mike

    The media and the republicans are insulting my intelligence each and everyday!

    February 13, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  20. Richard Miller

    Perhaps CNN ought to place more of their talking heads on the unemployment lines like the rest of us instead of beating the news to death by incessant gibberish. And, the republicans ought to grow a set before they offer their "expertise" on the economy instead of hiding behind their leader's obstructionist ideals. How much has the war in Iraq done to destroy our country at $500 billion plus per year and who was in charge when our great congresspersons signed that blank check????

    February 13, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  21. C W

    George: Your analysis of Obama's first 30 days is all wrong. And you seem to forget that it was the George W. Bush Administration and the Republicans who created all these problems Obama is trying to fix.

    In other words, if George & Company hadn't been so incompetent and naive, our country wouldn't be in this mess!

    And don't give me that "Bush kept us safe for 7 years" crap: 9/11 happened on his watch, less than a month after reading a memo that said al Qaeda was determined to attack the U.S. using airplanes.

    George W. Bush and all of his supporters should be ashamed of themselves!!!!!

    February 13, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  22. CK1


    February 13th, 2009 12:03 pm ET

    It seems as if Judd went after this post for the Census. Once that was removed from the Commerce dept., he was no longer interested. Controlling the census would have allowed the Republicans to manipulate the census and not count minorities. This would affect re-districting, thus benefiting them.

    I agree totally with you. That is the only reason he wanted the position in the first place. He thought the President was going to let him make all the decisions when it came to the Census. Sorry Charlie!! not this time.

    February 13, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  23. Terry, Florida

    Sousley – you're just an Obamabot. It was Obama's 'my way or the highway' that caused Gregg to step down – he didn't want to blindly support all of Obama's policies and Obama got rid of him, pure and simple. And good for Gregg.

    February 13, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  24. Patrick, Snohomish, WA

    President Obama's cabinet slection process has come under serious question and rightly so due to the number candidates who have withdrawn their nominations. But I don't think it is a question of his judgement as much as his approach to monitoring his vetting process. I will give him the benefit of the doubt given the economic situation we continue to deal with.

    February 13, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  25. Jonathan

    Now is the time for Obama to give up trying to work with these neocons, give them the finger, and go about the business that the people of the country want.

    February 13, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
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