June 18th, 2009
03:18 PM ET
13 years ago

Polls: Obama being judged for actions, not promises

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/06/18/art.bocu0618.gi.jpg caption="Three new polls are out about the president's job approval."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Three new national polls suggest that President Barack Obama is more popular than his policies. And two of those surveys, by NBC-Wall Street Journal and CBS-New York Times, also indicate that concerns over the massive federal deficit are growing.

Sixty-three percent of those questioned in the CBS-New York Times poll, which was released Wednesday night, approve of the job Obama's doing as president, down 5 points from April.

But when asked about specifics, his approval rating drops. Fifty-seven percent in the survey say they approve of how the President's dealing with the economy, 44 percent give Obama a thumbs up on health care reform and 41 percent approve of how he's handling the problems of the U.S. auto industry. The poll also indicates that only three in 10 think Obama has a clear plan for dealing with the nation's deficit.

CNN Radio: Paul Steinhauser breaks down the numbers

The NBC-Wall Street Journal survey, also released Wednesday night, makes the same point. The president's overall approval in that poll stands at 56 percent, down five points from April. But only about half of those questioned approve of how he's handling the economy, and 56 percent oppose Obama's plan to provide financial aid to General Motors.

The president's approval rating stands at 61 percent in a Pew Research Center poll, down two points from their April survey. Just over half of those questioned in the poll , released Thursday, approve of how Obama's handling the economy, and 47 percent support his handling of the auto makers.

"Personally, President Obama's more popular than his policies. Americans have a high level of confidence in the president but people don't believe many of his policies have worked yet. There's a wait-and-see attitude," says CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider.

Asked Thursday about the new polls, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said "I think the president would tell you that he's going to do what's in the best interest of the American economy. Some of those things will be more popular than others. I think the American people are rightly anxious and concerned about the economy, just as the president is."

The NBC-Wall Street Journal poll suggests that the drop in the president's approval rating may be linked to sagging support from independent voters. Forty-six percent of independents questioned in the survey approve of the job Obama's doing in the White House, down 14 points from April. The president's approval rating among independents stands at 58 percent in CBS-New York Times poll.

"The key to Obama's margin of victory has always been his appeal to independent voters and his willingness to work across partisan lines. This decrease in support among independents is something the White House must be paying attention to because these voters are crucial," says CNN Senior Political Analyst Gloria Borger.

Both the NBC-Wall Street Journal and CBS-New York Times polls indicate a growing concern by Americans over the federal deficit. Nearly six in 10 in the NBC-Wall Street Journal poll feel that the White House and Congress should worry more about keeping the deficit down even if that means it will take longer for the country to rebound from the recession. Fifty-two percent of those questioned in the CBS-New York Times poll say its more important to focus on deficit reduction than spending to stimulate the economy, 9 points higher than those who say it's more important to concentrate on pumping up the economy.

"People are very worried about the deficit. They want attention paid to the deficit even if it slows down the recovery. These new polls also suggest that the view that the economy is getting better has stalled," adds Schneider.

The NBC-Wall Street Journal poll suggests that Americans don't blame Obama for economy or the deficit, with 46 percent placing blame on former President George W. Bush, 21 percent saying it's the Democrats in Congress who are at fault, 7 percent blaming congressional Republicans and just 6 percent saying Obama's at fault. More than seven in ten say the current state of the economy is something the president inherited.

So do Republicans benefit from the drop in Obama's numbers on specific issues? Both polls suggest the answer is no. Only 28 percent of people questioned in the CBS-New York Times survey have a favorable view of the GOP, with more than twice that number saying they have a positive opinion of the Democratic party. And only one in four give the Republican party a favorable rating in the NBC-Wall Street Journal poll, an all time low in that survey's history.

"Whatever doubts Americans have about Obama or the deficit, it's not helping the Republicans. Americans don't see the GOP as having anything new on the table," says Schneider.

The NBC-Wall Street Journal poll was conducted June 12-15, with 1,008 people questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

The CBS-New York Times poll was conducted June 12-16, with 895 people questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

The Pew Research Center poll was conducted June 10-14, with 1,502 people questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.


Filed under: Polls • President Obama
soundoff (76 Responses)
  1. phoenix86

    Not really. If Obama was being judged by his actions, he would have already been removed from office.

    Obamabots and the press are still starstruck.

    June 18, 2009 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  2. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    I don't think it's a wait and see attitude. For me it's a wait, see and I told you so attitude. This country will be on the road to recovery by the beginning of the 4th quarter this year.

    June 18, 2009 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  3. Gordon Shumway

    Regarding Iran, the president is indeed in a quandary! How does one look and act like a great leader when one is bent over trying to figure out which &ss to kiss?

    June 18, 2009 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  4. Gordon

    This is exactly what Bush doesn't want as his legacy...he wants to be
    judged on anything but his lies and actions.

    June 18, 2009 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  5. Melissa

    The problem is that too many Americans expect an immediate solution to all the problems and that just isn't going to happen no matter who the new President would be.

    Its like Americans have completely lost the ability to have patience.

    June 18, 2009 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  6. Linda from Minnesota

    We need to come together as a country, support this man, give him time to turn things around. If in four years, things haven't improved, vote in someone else. We need to quit finger pointing, blaming and get behind him. Let's stop all the hate out there.

    June 18, 2009 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  7. Esco

    -2%...thats the whole fuss about this article? Wow...

    June 18, 2009 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  8. Lorna

    There's a "...wait and see..." attitude? For the love of Mike...he's only been in office for FIVE...count 'em...."5" months. Isn't he just a awful little slacker....really...he should have fixed everything by now and found the cure for cancer in his spare time! I am constantly amazed at the way some people view the world.

    June 18, 2009 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  9. Mississippi Mike

    It's that time. The rubber has hit the road and he's going full speed in the wrong direction. It won't take long before everyone starts bailing on this political whack-job.

    June 18, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  10. Tate

    Well what do you know once people relized if you want to be succesful in this country you have to actually work and that this money is going to raise all of our taxes throught the roof! Not yet seen Obama putting gas in tanks, food on table or paying mortgages. I see him spening 80k for a dinner with Michelle or flying her and the kids on my dime to France. We can only hope to fix what this communist has done to this countrys future.

    June 18, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  11. Jeanine Thollman

    By Christmas, all the Obama koolaid drinkers will have had enough and come to their senses. Obama will be below 50% approval on everything soon. He will end up being the most distrusted president in US history, as he should be.

    June 18, 2009 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  12. reason it out

    ""Personally, President Obama's more popular than his policies. Americans have a high level of confidence in the president but people don't believe many of his policies have worked yet..."

    Or that they will ever work.

    Some of us Americans don't have a high level of confidence in the president, based on reflecting on the historical outcome in other countries of the economic and social policies he is advocating today.

    June 18, 2009 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  13. Virginina

    Obama is the best president since Franklin Roosevelt. Why? He has courage, integrity and knowledge. These attibutes have been missing for a long time in a US president. We owe him our respect and the time to make the changes necessary to fix this country.

    June 18, 2009 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  14. Lynn

    When is CNN going to report on their sinking polls???

    June 18, 2009 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  15. Bridgette

    Listen with the mess this man inherited I think he is doing the best anyone can do. He has only been in office for 6 months people. Give me a break. Stop thinking everythng is going to happen overnite. We did not get in this mess overnite and we will not get out of it overnite.

    June 18, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  16. Jeremy

    Wow where are all the lefties on this post?!?!?!? People are starting to realize what the GOP said throughout the election... "Buyer Beware". This guy promised the lot to all the sheep and the media bought it and shoved it down our throats. Only the intelligent didn't buy it. The 'entitleists' and ignorant did.

    June 18, 2009 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  17. reason it out

    I am struck by your headline:

    "Polls: Obama being judged for actions, not promises"

    I think it's a pretty good bet – and demands some consideration – that the headline for this same article for a Republican president of the past 8 years would instead read, "Majority of Americans disagree with / dissprove of President's policies."

    One more thought: Was the general, "do you approve of Obama overall" question asked before or after the string of questions about his actual policies?

    June 18, 2009 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  18. Emma

    Everyone keeps complaining about deficit spending. How much has President Obama really added to the deficit. What was the deficit on the day he took office, subtract that total from the current deficit and you know what he is not responsible for the $1 trillion + dollars of red ink.

    There are things he needed to do to get the economy going. Where are all of the auto workers whose jobs were saved due to the economic stimulus? Why aren't you speaking out in support of the President? You are working today with medical benefits as a result of his direct action. Where are the insurance workers (AIG), why aren't you speaking out in support of the President?

    Every person who still has a job, a home, a car, medical insurance.......speak up. The deficit has kept a roof over your head, food on the table and medical insurance. STOP WHINING! The President told you it wouldn't be easy.........did you forget?

    June 18, 2009 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  19. Jon

    No surprise. Liberals will never say a negative word about this President. It doesn't really matter what he does.

    June 18, 2009 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  20. MJ - San Antonio, TX

    I want Obama to concentrate on getting new jobs for US citizens, war veterans and getting the economy on its feet. I do not want what he is proposing for health care. I don't think this is the time to be concerned about immigration reform. There are priorites and the latter is not one of them. I also want the government to stop spending more money. All this administration has done is spend, spend, spend!

    June 18, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  21. TCM

    CNN and their biased polling data! I love it! You can hardly find anyone, anywhere, except liberal media and blogs like this that approve of Obama to the extent claimed, or his policies. This whitewashing and scourging of the data will ultimately reveal it's ugly head....when more and more are unemployed...prices go up, and the economy's spiraling...folks, these aren't hate words from me, look around! How many homes are in foreclosure? Home many are unemployed? How many stores are closing or have closed? These are the facts that you can see for yourself instead of listening to ass-saving rhetoric of, "I believe the economy's on the uptick..." Bull!

    Both the NBC-Wall Street Journal and CBS-New York Times polls are in the tank for Obama; which once again CNN, disqualifies this article from having any validity.....

    June 18, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  22. carlo

    I'm still trying to figure out how any reasonable person could think that this economy would be up this soon, when it took basically 30 years for the bubble to burst and it to culminate into this worthless heap we have now. 40% of our wealth as a nation comes from the Stock Market. What did everyone think was going to happen? We don't make anything anymore, and people actually opposed bailing out GM, which is the company that makes one of the few exports we have left.

    I used to wonder if lack of education on a broad basis really meant that people scared easily. I see now.

    June 18, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  23. John

    HOW IS BUSH JUDGED?

    1. Jail for Bush.
    2. Mislead Americans into Iraq War.
    3. Intelligence Report that Iraq has WMDs Forged and Fabricated.
    4. 4300 US Troops Killed.
    5. 45000 US Troops Permanently Disabled.
    6. Economy is Shambles.
    7. No Regulations for Banking and Finance.
    8. Torture of Prisoners.
    9. Wiretapping.

    June 18, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  24. Doug, New Jersey

    Americans are starting to see the true Obama, his media lapdogs may continue to Bow to him like Brian Williams, but the good Americans are who were fooled are waking up.

    Americans seeing the truth, the right loves it, the left hates it. How do you feel about the truth? How do you feel about equality? Should the NAACP, NOW, and GLAAD drop their support of someone just because they are not lib? If you are a decent person then vote that way in 2010 and 2012, the lib defies everything that you believe in.

    June 18, 2009 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
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