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. John

    You can chisel this in stone...within 6 months the great pretender will be exposed as the fraud that he is. Obama will become a poster boy for those who screw up royally. They might even coin the term "I did an Obama" to show total lack of intelligence and ability!

    February 13, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  2. MAD

    It's so interesting to me that we (all of us) have given 43 men the opportunity to build their cabinets, get their new administration up and running, make a few mistakes, etc., etc., etc., as the new President of the United States.

    But for some reason, the 44th man isn't getting the same opportunity. At least without every newscaster (White, Black, Hispanic, Liberal or Conservitive.) beating his brains out about every little thing. (I.e., Other people's failure to pay taxes. Not asking enough black reporters question during his FIRST press conference. Ticking off the Congressional Black Caucas with his SECOND Commerce Secretary pick. Mentioning ultra conservitive radio and TV personalities TOO much for liberals radio and TV personalities taste, etc.)

    Why do you suppose he's not getting the same courtesy as the other 43 received. I'll give you three guesses and the first two don't count.....

    By the way, this is something we have lived with all our lives. Having to do 150% to others 100%. (Even amoung our own people.) I've just never seen it played out on every TV and radio station in America.

    I want to watch the news but I to the point of stopping, because unless President Obama figures out how to walk on water, no one will ever be satisfied. Oh, sorry. No even then. Republicans will complain that he's showboating.

    This is a no win situation for him but what's really awful is that, thanks to all the complainers, it's becoming a no win situation for America.

    Could you please just give the 76% of us (who have some belief in the President) a break....

    February 13, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  3. Soccer Nana

    Gregg "courted" the job because he knew that the Census Bureau fell under the Commerce Department; therefore, he would work to disqualify or not count the hispanics and many other minority groups in the Census.

    The Obama admnistration removed the Census Bureau from under the Department of Commerce; hence, it would not benefit Gregg's true agenda.

    I knew it was "something" other than the lies he told. Busted!!!

    Hispanics and all minorities take note; the Republicans do not want you counted.

    February 13, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  4. Gloria

    Our president is doing the best job he can, given what he inherited from the previous Republican administration.

    It is a shame that the GOP would rather let this country sink than to be on board to help Americans who are suffering.

    Their constituents are not having problems...after all, they were taken care of for the last 8 years!!

    February 13, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  5. The Real Michael in Houston, Texas

    Mike in Houston, (darn shame we share the same first name in the same city) are you serious? And the Republican policies have left this country in great shape???? It is the Repulican polices that put us in a catastropic place. Now is President Obama's plans the best ever?. That is debatable. But his plan is far better than any plan the current Republican congressional member has at this time. All these guys have been around pre-Obama and have done nothing but wreck this economy. Your guys, the GOP, are grandstanding right now which is ignorant because they will pay in 2010. We the American people will make sure of that.

    February 13, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  6. Honestly Folks


    The republicans asked for tax cuts. Let's face it the recession of '82 was much worse than this and Reagan's tax cuts worked. Interestingly it took congress 8 months to debate his cuts. Obama won't wait eight weeks for debate on the largest spending bill in history.

    Spending $800B to create $4M jobs is a joke – that's $200k a job.

    Instead of blind support for Obama I wish some of you uneducated democrats would wake up an realize you are flushing our future down the toilet with blind, uneducated support.

    February 13, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  7. JJ12345

    Mike February 13th, 2009 12:41 pm ET

    Too much too early……thats what Americans are demanding…..and the biggest hurdle Mr. President got right now is the corrupt senators who are pro special interest and large corporations, with big fat belies which are far from being filled. That is why they have a clear opposition to the money allocated for the actual needy people. Here's what a Republican Senator is thinking right now "789 Bill dollars, how can i get my cut, lets oppose it for now, and set the right price for my vote!!!"
    So how do you explain all the democrat special interest in the bill. They are not looking for republician votes, they have the votes they are looking for political cover.

    February 13, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  8. JC

    Headlines like these make me despair of CNN. The story is obama has a 70+ approval rating and the headline is...a sign of weakness? He handled Daschle well–short of nominating him in the first place. But Gregg pulling out is more symptomatic of Republicans who simply cannot believe that they would be better off to work with Obama than against him. Taking the long view it will be to their detriment in 2010. If I were a Republican voter I would be furious right now at how the voice of conservative American is getting pulled into the ditch by a leadership that has decided that the best way to deal with a popular President is to stonewall him. Can we please please please have intelligent political journalism? With the economic meltdown at least one of the networks will be a casualty, more and more it's looking like that will be CNN.

    February 13, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  9. rich

    Now that Obama has given the other side plenty of rope,they have done the obvious,they hanged themselves.Now that thats over with time to move on.

    February 13, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  10. Island girl

    Rex: I gather you want Bush and his cronies back in power so that America can continue spiraling downward. Imagine, Cheney feels that America is more vulnerable than ever to attacks (yeah!, because he has more time to go a huntin').

    February 13, 2009 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  11. Sue

    Let's not forget that Judd Gregg asked for this job. He must have known his philosophies were different than Obama's. Why the sudden change of heart? Something to hide? A ploy to make Obama look bad? Just not that bright? In any case, as a NH resident I am glad he's not running for re-election!

    February 13, 2009 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  12. jeronimo!

    it's silly to charge this administration with Greggs' decision to withdraw. a thinking person would know, this has nothing to do with policy differences and everything to do with the fact that his vacated senate seat would be replaced by a democrat. senate republicans obviously got to gregg and convinced him to decline the invitation to join an ambitious administration. truth is, they want a filibuster. for those of you who have no idea what that is:

    A filibuster, is a form of obstruction in a legislature or other decision-making body. An attempt is made to infinitely extend debate upon a proposal in order to delay the progress or completely prevent a vote on the proposal taking place.

    these clowns want to stall bills that would benefit the people; greggs withdrawal has less to do with a political epiphany than it does with fear of democratic success.

    February 13, 2009 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  13. Noah from Chicago

    The title of this posting is misleading. To have a 61% approval rating on cabinet picks after having four people withdraw is amazing and far from being a sign of weakness

    February 13, 2009 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  14. JJ

    Just because they can the repulbicans are showing their true love for this country. Let's see how long it will take them to get reelected? If you people vote these clowns back in the senate and house again you are crazy. We are suppose to be trying to get this country back on track but we are fighting now among ourseleves for nothing.

    February 13, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  15. knowlege

    Gregg is a punk. He knew he was gonna back out to show that Obama's administration is weak. Well I got news for you, America doesn't like the GOP. You can keep trying to keep finding faults with Obama, but know one is buying into that. The GOP doesn't get it! They are still behind the times!

    February 13, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  16. Mitchell from MS

    Oh me oh my the slleping sheep who voted for this twit are realizing to late they made a mistake.

    I forsee the polls for your messiah slipping even further down the slippery slope once people see what his real intentions are. I also forsee his polls numbers declineing lower than GW Bush's. Who knows maybe even lower than Congress's

    February 13, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  17. Jerry D.

    I think President Obama should take the dm bill and say the hl with the republicans. If things don't go right he will be blame anyway.

    February 13, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  18. wendell

    you people just wait and see...turn a blind eye to the stupidity going on in washington and from the messiah...see how you like him when it will take a wheelbarrow full of money to buy a gallon of milk when this inflation hits from this stupid bill......the only positive in this disaster is you liberals and your media will get screwed also.

    February 13, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  19. bk

    You people forget that there are 11 Democrats who oppose the stimulus. You are willing to take $13.00 on your paycheck and get a $400.00 check for your 800 billion. Are you stupid? I guess so!

    February 13, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  20. C W

    Christina has it right. And for those who don't know the quote about insanity, it goes like this:

    One definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result.

    In our country's unfortunate case, the "same thing" has been what the Republicans always propose: Tax cuts for the wealthy, divisive politics and cowtowing to corporate greed.

    Don't know if the Republicans will ever learn ... Thankfully, the electorate didn't fall for it again in November.

    February 13, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  21. Lee, Ann Arbor, Michigan

    What did you expect from a totally in-experienced person put into the Presidency by the media? They did not vet him properly, and now we're seeing the results. For him not to know what Daschle was like before he became President really showed how little he knew about reality in politics.

    You posters can say all you want about not being fair, far right, etc., but this is just the plain facts.

    February 13, 2009 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  22. Rick

    I have to know which 6 people you keep calling on these polls. all the people that I have talked to in Iowa are scared with what Obama and his administration is doing with our future, our kids future and our grandkids future. He is so inexperienced in chosing people he seems like an inadequet boss with little hiring experience. Then the people he picks, a guy in charge of the treasury that cant pay taxes, then picks others that dont pay their taxes either, then picks a person, but takes away the things that his job is suppose to do. Obama and his administrtation sounds like a micromanagement team that doesnt understand teamwork. If you are going to run a true poll, then get a true cross section of those who are not blinded by the Obama smoke.

    February 13, 2009 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  23. Justifed Cynic

    Looks like B.O.'s inexperience, incompetence, and total lack of sound judgement is FINALLY starting to become apparent. Welcome to reality, people! It's going to be a LONG four years.

    February 13, 2009 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  24. Mike A

    Would someone please educuate these people. Their ignorance about socialism is astounding. They must have missed that lecture.

    February 13, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  25. Mike, Syracuse NY

    @Mike, it's amazing that you use a Republican Senator as an example of someone trying to get the stimulus money when they voted overwhelmingly against it. Are you paying attention at all or do you just get up every morning blaming Republicans for everything?

    3 cabinet appointees have withdrawn, and in each case more careful work on Obama's part would have uncovered the issues before he named the in the first place. This is why you shouldn't elect someone with no experience.

    February 13, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
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