June 18th, 2009
03:18 PM ET
14 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. Proud DHS radical

    Methinks the Obama kool aid is finally wearing off.

    June 18, 2009 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  2. Bob in Pa

    I couldn't agree more, seems like a nice guy. His policies I could do without.

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

    ..and CNN is less popular than what their own advertisements are...and say nothing positive about the president nor devote a blog to people like John Kerry who "slammed" John McCain because they are afraid of FOX news.

    June 18, 2009 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  4. Smokey

    You liberals, President Bush haters, are still in love w/this guy. Anything he does or says will be just sooo soothing. Even killing a fly is so attractive.... (it really is disgusting – makes us wonder why are flies following him? I know! Because he stinks!! Oh but no one can smell it yet) Just keep waiting for the wealth to be spread, food coupons, welfare, section 8, medical care to all, free for all....
    We, the people with our head in the right place will do everything it takes to PREVENT NATIONALIZATION of Health Care. Wake Up 58,000.000 of Americans, who did not vote for this guy! You love this country?? DEFEND IT. CALL your Senators & Congressmen. Send an e-mail, let your voice be heard.

    June 18, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  5. Pat, CA

    Virginina June 18th, 2009 3:36 pm ET
    Obama is the best president since Franklin Roosevelt. Why? He has courage, integrity and knowledge.
    1) What specific courage has he shown?
    2) Was it "integrity" that kept him in a racist church for 20 years? Was it "integrity" that got him elected to the IL Senate via bullying tactics?
    3) What specific "knowledge" has he demonstrate?

    June 18, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  6. Bill in California

    ONE SMALL CHILD in the crowd cried out to her mother, "But mother THE EMPEROR HAS NO CLOTHES! " Once the truth was loosed more and more in the crowd turned from his nakedness.

    June 18, 2009 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  7. Shibumi

    When communists (Putin and the Chinese), as well as, dictators (Chavez) cautioning Bo Bo on his spending and liberal policies, that should tell you something.
    And to simply state "Give him time" is like watching a train wreck and not trying to do anything about it.

    June 18, 2009 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  8. Melissa

    Republicans on here really need to learn that their insults are only making them look foolish and ensuring that their party will never be in power again because people are tired of their behavior.

    June 18, 2009 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  9. inofritzn

    Printing money has never and will never work
    bailed out GM and Chrysler to avoid bankruptcy = they filed bankruptcy
    Appeasing dictators = dictators get more confident
    list goes on
    Bush screwed up, but Obama is making this mess worse

    June 18, 2009 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  10. Shawn - Ga

    So nothing has changed... he has "sparkle" but when it comes to substance... he is lacking.

    June 18, 2009 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  11. Lynn

    Funny how the Republican haters say nothing about the last section of the article which states the republicans which enjoy a 28% rating and a 25% rating; the later being the lowest in the poll's history.

    No poll should be released without the inclusion of the undecided which reasonably is where Americans should be given that this is only five months into the presidency.

    June 18, 2009 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  12. Zeb

    What do you expect from a man who stole his party's nomination?

    June 18, 2009 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  13. J

    Well so far he has done more as president that Bush did in 8 years.

    Quit your crying conservatives.

    All I see from these comments are brain washed conservatives going WAAAA WAAAA WAAAA WAAAAA

    June 18, 2009 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  14. felicia

    President Obama is doing a wonderful job, it's the media tryna discredit the president. I hope he continues to do his job and brush off all the negativity that's going on around him.

    June 18, 2009 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  15. Emma

    I can't believe some of the rhetoric. Why didn't you have a Tea Party when Bush declared war on Iraq? Where were you when the deficit spun out of control when Bush asked for funds to continue the war? Where were you when Haliburton received contracts without bidding?

    I am so sick of you dead &ss Republicans who did not raise the red flag when Bush and Chaney were in office. You gobbled down everything they dished out. I don't feel sorry for you because you made money and now you are losing your homes.

    What are you doing for yourself? Are you in credit card debt? Didn't you know you should live within your budget? Where are all of the Bushies and Chanies who are blowing hot air now?

    Get a life!

    June 18, 2009 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  16. CNN = Moveon.org


    You're right, he has been in office only six months. That is what is so amazing! He is fast-tracking us to third world status. Do democrats ever take responsibility for their actions? They voted in a guy that in less than 6 months has spent more than any other President in U.S. History combined, more than tripling the deficit. Yet, when Bush was spending, liberals and conservatives were upset. Now that it is a liberal in office, only conservatives are upset, from both parties.

    June 18, 2009 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  17. Sniffit

    Results just in: 100% of Americans too stupid to really understand the meaning of poll results when not all the information regarding the poll is provided....80% of "journalists" willing to exploit it.

    June 18, 2009 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  18. dreamer

    I will make my judgment in the voting both.why we do that every four years.

    June 18, 2009 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  19. Lori

    A President more popular than his policies... I remember one just like that many years ago. HIS NAME WAS RONALD REAGAN!!! Ronald Reagan (the Republican messiah) was way more popular than his policies (Fact) and he was more conservative than most Americans were at the time (the same way Republicans say President Obama is more 'liberal' than most Americans). President Obama's overall approval ratings (still in the 60s) are STILL higher than George W's were at this same time in his presidency (and even my second favorite President after Obama- Mr. Bill Clinton's). People generally vote on a President's overall performance so I see another term for Mr. Obama.

    Keep up the good work Mr. President.

    June 18, 2009 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  20. playlist

    Of course with the Rethugs kicking, screaming and whining about the bitter pill we have to swallow for the mess they left, there is going to be concern for OUR President brave enough to confront what weakened us .....no one said it would be easy....Rethugs should take note their numbers are BOTTOM......WORSTEVER in this poll......

    June 18, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  21. Keith, CO

    Look at our fast paced lives and it no shock that you'll find impatience.
    On the plus side, with the Republicans low numbers maybe we can get some Independent Senators in there for a change.
    Us independents will bring balance to government when Republicans cant be trusted to.

    June 18, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  22. Sniffit

    @ J.P., wh osaid "Recorded human history has shown entirely too many times, this sort of situation rarely, rarely ever ends well for the politican or the populace."

    Oh please, "recorded history"? Let's hear some of your examples. Fact is, you're not going to find a situation where a president's policies are more popular than he is...one follows the other, but not vice versa. When was the last time you said "oh, I hate that guy, but boy am I glad he's doing such a bang up job"? This whole story and ones like it (yes, even ones about GOPers) are called "make-news" and DO NOT constitute journalism.

    June 18, 2009 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  23. DavidinCA

    How can 41% approve of the failed tens of billions thrown at the auto industry?!?! It didn't work! It met none of the goals and cost twice as much as they said it would! I would interpret this as 41% of the people didn't understand the question.

    June 18, 2009 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  24. tedious898

    phoenix86 June 18th, 2009 3:23 pm ET

    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

    How does it feel to be a loser extraordinaire? I see your posts everyday making feeble and incoherent rants about our POTUS. Your (meaning GOP) ideology didn't work butt head. Most americans are pragmatic....ie. if it doesn't work try something else....not ideologically foolish like you had your ilk i.e. I'll keep trying this same dumb idea til it works ) = GOP

    Nolw...take your pills and go lay down while our president fixes the huge mess you kids left behind

    June 18, 2009 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  25. Hopeful Optimist

    Liberal response is being slowly edited out of so many of these blogs. I think someone is putting the squeeze on whomever is responsible for selecting our input. And don't EVER give me that crap about the media being liberal. Just look at the ownership and follow the money.

    If the media were liberal (1) Ken Starr would never have gained any traction with the so-called Whitewater scandal or Monica Lewinsky, (2) the election of 2000 would have never turned out as it did, and (3) Bush/Cheney would never have been able to get away with swiftboating Kerry's campaign in 2004.

    What most people don't understand is that those media persons who actually report the news probably are somewhat liberal. However, those who edit and control what is reported are ownership's puppets.

    June 18, 2009 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
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