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. Sniffit

    @ CNN = Moveon.org, wh osaid "They voted in a guy that in less than 6 months has spent more than any other President in U.S. History combined,"

    Aaaand, just like the "omg, 90% of the Chrysler dealerships closed were owned by Republicans" garbage, this fun little math jibe is total crap. Guess what? 90% of Chrysler dealerships were just plan owned by GOPers in the first place...check it...the confluence of character traits is remarkable. And this "spent more than all combined" jibba jabba doesn't adjust for inflation such that we're talking about "today dollars" because Limbaugh, Coulter and Hannity can't count past 4 anyway.

    June 18, 2009 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  2. Thin is in?

    Obamabots stand up for your fraud in chief, ,many are starting to pay attention, you know them, the moderates who helped get the fraud elected, are starting to say "he promised this, that and the other thing, but all we have gotten is backtracking, lies and myths".

    The only thing he did that he promised he would do was close gitmo and that blew up in his uh, uh, uh, uh face as he has no plan on what to do after his speechifying.

    It does show the American idol mentality of some where you could ask them about 10 of Obambi's ideas, but only ask their opinion on the idea (DON't MENTION THAT IT IS AN OBAMBI ONE) and 7 out of 10 ideas you think are horribly wrong, but then they ask what do you think about the job Obambi is doing, "aw shucks, he is the bestest ever".

    Yep, this poll proves how brutally dumb you bahhhhhhhhh, sheep are.

    Hurry up and post, Oprah is on.

    June 18, 2009 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  3. Mike in MN

    Obama is in big trouble. I belive the recovery will be short lived. The massive deficit and or the massive tax increases to address the deficit will push us back into another recession before 2012. Obama will be a one term failure. Bad for all of us.

    June 18, 2009 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  4. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    In the 60s, there was a cry for Civil Rights..... Now the gay population of the USA wants basic Civil Rights and Obama must ensure that this happens.

    Civil Rights for ALL Americans, N O W

    June 18, 2009 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  5. Fair is Fair

    Dutch/Bad Newz, VA June 18th, 2009 3:25 pm ET

    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.

    Going to hold you to that prediction, Dutch. That's only 2 1/2 months away.

    June 18, 2009 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  6. John


    10. Failure to act during Katrina.
    11. No Health Care for most Americans.
    12. Death of Auto, Iron and Steel, Textile and other Industries.
    13. Falsely stating “Mission Accomplished”.
    14. Falsely stating “Our Economy is still Strong”.
    15. Highest Unemployment ever.
    16. Highest Budget and Trade Deficit ever.
    17. Failed foreign policies and relations with other Countries.
    18. Is there a Zoo that can keep Bush the Monkey?

    June 18, 2009 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  7. mike

    Lets go Barack! You know that everything needed to be fixed before your 7th month!!! Whats taking so long??

    June 18, 2009 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  8. John

    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 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  9. seebofubar

    Holy smokes! Did I miss something? Did Obama actually do something? Oh ya, he took his wife to dinner, I forgot.

    June 18, 2009 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  10. Hammerer

    Must be getting really bad when those two polls show Obama dropping in favor. The news media can not fool the public forever. Their strawman with the teleprompter with no substance is starting to get one everyone's nerves.

    June 18, 2009 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  11. S Callahan

    Clarify to me what was really done so far besides rehtoric and more debt? Where did things really get better.? from my view I see ...stocks slide up and down, more down than up; stimulus has hurt most those it was inteneded to help....foreclosures are at an all time high leaving a huge popluation with inadequate or overpriced rental housing...more food stamp population than ever...can't decided which is best way to go with health care (keep it private in co ops for lower costs)....guess I'm not seeing the full picture yet....

    June 18, 2009 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  12. Brian in AZ

    @Virginina "Obama is the best president since Franklin Roosevelt."

    I'm not sure why (#1) you would make a statement about how good he is not even a full 6 months into his 4 year (or potentially 8 year) tenure as president. Pardon me if I sound presumptuous, but you decided he was going to be the best president before he was even inaugurated. Y'know people "decided" Chavez would the Venezuela's savior in '92, too.

    Or why (#2) you'd (implicitly) compare him to a president whose policies extended the depression by nearly a decade. That doesn't bode well for America's current economic situation. I sure hope Americans aren't as ignorant enough of math and economics this time to think the mythical gov't multipliers really exist. Wake up folks, velocity of money WON'T change just because the gov't is irresponsible with the taxpayer largess.

    June 18, 2009 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  13. jeff

    After Bush anyone would be a breath of fresh air. Add to that the current GOP self-destruction Obama can do as he pleases and most Americans e will be glad he's in office.

    June 18, 2009 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  14. The lonely Libertarian of Liverpool NY

    Nope I reject both the republicans and the democrats nether party is out to help America, they are only out for themselves….

    June 18, 2009 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  15. Earl

    Well Whaaa, Whaaa. Watching the responses from all angles and the quick judgements that are rendered it validates my opinion that we have a congress, news, extreme left and right view points and senate of "I want it now" personalities. These personalities remind me of a 4 year old child that is being denied what this child wants now and is throwing a temper tantrum. Whaa, Whaa. Obama is trying to wean these babies off the drunken udder of photo opps, quick phoney responses with step wise prundant decision making followed with the savy delievery style that makes him so popular with Americans and the rest of the world. The irony and tip for those complaints, go ahead a cry, pout and bang your fists on the floor, most of us are use to this kind of behavior and just ignore your.

    June 18, 2009 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  16. Typical White Person

    felicia June 18th, 2009 4:01 pm ET

    President Obama is doing a wonderful job, it's the media tryna discredit the president.

    Let me "axe" you a question, where exactly in the dictionary can I find the word "tryna"? I'm guessing you are a product of the Annenburge Challenge...

    Consider this – the media has played the Obama fly-swatting clip more in 3 days than they did the video of people jumping to their deaths from the World Trade Center terror attacks in 8 years...

    June 18, 2009 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  17. Doug Malott

    The reason his numbers are slipping is he hasn't done anything of substance. All he does do is give 100 speeches a week, sign bills that are not in the mainstream, speak about useless diplomacy, go bouncing from one subject to the next like a pin ball machine and my favorite – saying he is deeply concerned everytime Iran or North Korea does something outrageous. This guy is in so deep over his head he has 4 fingers out of the water. I'm wondering how long voters memories are. If they voted for 2 inexperienced guys like Carter and Clinton with their brilliant resumes, how could they possibly vote for this? Get ready, you ain't seen nothin' yet.

    June 18, 2009 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  18. Shibumi

    I want to smoke what you Obamabots smoke. It must be some good stuff.
    Also, certainly could be no bias against the GOP in an NBC / CBS / New York Times poll.
    Bo Bo.....One and Done.

    June 18, 2009 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  19. arc, Lugano CH

    I'm willing to give President Obama and his policies a chance. Knowing that the end of the Bush Administration was going to be quite a strain on the new administration no matter who was elected, I planned ahead and I'm glad I did. I would be giving the same benefit of the doubt to a President McCain right now as well.

    June 18, 2009 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  20. Keith, CO

    Most these people on here can't think past What corporate daddy tells them to. They still firmly believe in the trickle down effect. Or maybe they just like peeing on people?

    Fact remains it's not even 1 year yet people. I can't rate his performance
    accurately. However he sincerely want to help this country. That I can Tell.

    June 18, 2009 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  21. Dan, NY

    I wonder why is he popular? We have a teleprompter president who reads the speeches written by somebody else. Nothing is coming from his head because he has no leadership. When you read somebody else's speeches, you will not follow them. You do not know what you are saying. You do not mean anything. We have a clown in the white house and he is liked by 60% of the people. He is spending our money which we do not have. It is the biggest joke.

    June 18, 2009 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  22. Lowell

    At least Obama has provided action. He's not an empty suit with an empty head like the one who inhabited the Oval Office for the last 8 years. I'll give Obama points for trying. After 8 years of stagnation and then a trend toward going backwards, Obama is faced with an uphill battle to get this country back where it should be, back from the depths of the mud where Bush dragged it to.

    June 18, 2009 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  23. Tim

    So the title of your ticker is exactly backwards. Since people don't like the specifics, he is being judged on his promises, not on his actions. Once they see his actions, they are less likely to approve. Who writes your headlines?

    June 18, 2009 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  24. Right Leaning Independent

    Must not have polled the CNN bloggers. Every day they rave about every policy move by the president. They either do not understand that we can not afford these policies or they believe that there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow that will magically pay for these policies. I can not wait until their taxes go up to pay for this – than lets see what their blogs say....

    June 18, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  25. Yossi Gestetner

    yups, ppl are waking up from a loooooong deep winter nap.

    June 18, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
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