October 20th, 2009
12:40 PM ET
13 years ago

CNN Poll: Half the country disagrees with Obama on issues

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/10/20/art.obama.1020.2.jpg caption="CNN Poll: Half the country disagrees with Obama on issues."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - For the first time since he took over in the White House, Americans don't see eye to eye with President Barack Obama on the important issues, according to a new national poll. But the CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey does indicate that a majority approve of how Obama's handling his duties as president.

According to the poll, which was released Tuesday, 48 percent of people questioned say that they agree with Obama on the issues that matter most to them, with 51 percent saying no. That's a switch from April, when 57 percent said they agreed with the president on important issues, with 41 percent disagreeing.

"Obama is facing crunch time on a number of controversial issues, from health care to financial regulation to cap and trade to Afghanistan," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "The fact that most Americans no longer agree with him on important issues makes his task harder."

Fifty-five percent of those questioned say they approve of how Obama's handling his duties, with 43 percent disapproving. The 55 percent approval rating is down 3 points from September. Most recent national polls place the president's approval rating in the low to mid 50's.

"Obama continues to do poorly among senior citizens," says Holland. "Most Americans over the age of 65 disapprove of how he is handling his job as president."


The poll also suggests that two out of three Americans say Obama has the qualities a president should have, down 12 points from April - one indication the Nobel Peace Prize may not have helped him much in that regard.

Most Americans, 56 percent, don't approve of the Norwegian Nobel Committee's decision to award the Nobel Peace Prize to Barack Obama, and only a third believe that Obama has done enough to deserve the prize. But seven in 10 are proud that a U.S. president won the prestigious award.

Sixty-five percent say they have a favorable opinion of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and 64 percent say they view first lady Michelle Obama favorably. Both women rate higher than the six in 10 questioned who view Obama in a favorable light. Forty-five percent say they have a favorable opinion of Vice President Joe Biden, 5 points higher than the four in 10 who view Biden unfavorably.

"It's not surprising that Clinton tops Barack Obama on the favorable ratings," says Holland. "Secretaries of State don't get blamed for economic problems or unpopular domestic policies, and they often don't get the same share of the blame as the commander-in-Chief for international slip-ups either. But typically, the first lady gets even better favorable ratings than the Secretary of State, so the fact that Clinton's numbers are slightly better than Michelle Obama's is a bit surprising."

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted Sunday through Thursday, with 1,038 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn


Filed under: CNN poll • Popular Posts • President Obama
soundoff (203 Responses)
  1. Mike in SA

    One of the strange (and scary) things about this past election cycle was the disconnect in the voters minds between Obama's policy agenda and his popularity. Way back in October/November 2008, polls showed that if you asked people about policies and not candidates, the electorate did not like Obama's plan even back then, but he was still rock-star popular. People are slowly but surely realizing that elections have consequences and that the guy that they may have voted for is pushing an agenda that they don't like. In fact the party and administration in charge are bullying it through saying "We won" and ignoring the fact that they never had a policy mandate. Their only mandate after blaming everything on the previous administration without once looking in the mirror, was that they were not George Bush (and believe me, this is no defense of him). That people are finally waking up from the kool-aid that the mass media served them doesn't surprise me at all.

    October 20, 2009 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  2. John

    This Poll is not Correct.

    All those who voted for Obama, still support him.

    Obama has a support from 53% of Americans.

    October 20, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  3. Callie Stan

    He's still better than "W."

    October 20, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  4. grumpy old man

    The presidency is a combination of prime minister and head of state (king/queen). After eight years of a president that was a good prime minister but a poor head of state, we chose Obama, a person who is a good head of state but a weak prime minister.

    This explains why Obama who has excellent communication skills, has a personal approval of greater than 50%, and has less than 50% approval for his policies, which are perceived as weak or ill advised.

    October 20, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  5. God Bless President Obama!

    I sure would like to know who these guys are polling and what section of the country they are polling. I really dont believe there results on this one!

    October 20, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  6. Sniffit

    We knew this on November 4, 2008. He won by just a few percentage points. The country is fairly split in half. Half want progress into the 21st century and the other half wants us to return to the 1800's (or believe it still is), the "good ole days" when uppity minorities and "illegals" weren't allowed to speak their minds or exert any influence and corporate America could still be trusted because it wasn't yet so big that you pretty much spent your entire life as an indentured servant. How much money gets wasted on polling to confirm what we already know anyway?

    October 20, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  7. Minoritythis

    Where the heck have you been? Wonder what the literacy rate is for the supporters of our basketball Jones in Chief? Here is the real question, what percentage of the American supporters of Obummer are productive hard working tax paying non-entitlement seeking Americans?

    October 20, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  8. chuckles

    So you tell seniors you will cut $400billion from Medicare, tell doctors you will cut their pay, tell insured happy people you will force them on to the socialist wait and ration plan, and he expects to be popular? All this with 10% and rising unemployment and devaluing the dollar with inflation like the world has never seen coming, and the destruction of the capitalist economy making us a 3rd world power. Buckling to all our enemies and nutering the military. I mean it just gets better and better, ......if you are a commie America hater.

    It's scary to me that he still has the support he has. NOBODY that still supports him was even alive when Carter did this and worse to our country. We will be lucky to survive 4 years of this insanity. 2010 will be a bloodbath for Dems, but we still have to get enough Republicans to overide veto's from this commie.

    October 20, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  9. Chanel

    I think people are looking at these polls the wrong way. They tend to be very vague. President Obama is NOT a left wing liberal (despite criticizm from Republicans). The progressives are going to disagree with him on sending more troops to Afghanistan (and the war in general) and Republicans are going to disagree with him on health care reform. You cannot please everyone. I'm shocked 48% agree with him. When you stand in the middle, you tend to stand alone.

    October 20, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  10. Benj Karlson

    I have been telling you for over a year that Obama is an empty suit. Why didn't you listen to me? Being able to present a rousing teleprompter message just doesn't cut it for the awful responsibilities of being POTUS. Obama's community organizer training also does not prep him for what's required, either.

    October 20, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  11. Russ

    Way to go CNN. You effectively have managed to skew even your own poll. Congrats.

    The key point in this poll is that you found that 55% approve of the President's job, (60% have a favorable opinion of the President).

    A 55% approval rating in this highly partisan atmosphere and while the President is trying to accomplish something SO huge, is very, very impressive.

    Yet you managed to make it sound as if only 48% approve of his job performance (via that poorly phrased, misleading sample question which will have an incredibly high MOE).

    You're just as bad as Fox. The cable networks are all a disgrace to news. You should just rename yourself CEN (Cable Entertainment News). Cable News Network died years ago, as far as I'm concerned.

    October 20, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  12. Bonnie

    Who are they polling, I am still waiting for my phone call, my father (senior citizen) is waiting for his. So who is getting polled, and by whom. Hmmmmm!!

    October 20, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  13. Seriously

    The majority supports the policies he outlined during his campaign which is why he was elected. Unfortunately, Obama is the only one "changing" as he tries to appease the private sector and its Congressmen who are in its pocket. The majority of the public wants a public option. Its the all-powerful HMOs that don't. If he would make good on any of his promises (Afghanistan, Gitmo, etc.), that would probably go a long way towards garnering public support.

    October 20, 2009 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  14. debbie

    It's all in how you phrase the question, as I should know having created these sorts of surveys. The only thing that matters is that the economy is improving, healthcare is finally getting some attention, and we are no longer viewed as a rogue nation by the rest of the world....all in less than one year since Pres. Obama took office. I know our forefathers firmly believed in the media as a key tool to keeping government honest but they could never have foreseen how the media would manipulate public opinion all in order to make $$ via ratings. Shame on you CNN. And if I ever meet Ted Turner I think I might just slap him upside his head for not retaining CNN because I don't think he would have tolerated the path you've toward sensationalism.

    October 20, 2009 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  15. Doug, New Jersey

    That's amazing considering that every Democrat in America, along with their media and simple minded indoctrinators have stated that if you disagree with Obama on just one thing you are an evil racist terrorist. The number is no doubt higher as many asked don't want a batch of idiotic hate-filled liberal froth that Democrats spew as they call you a racist terrorist for not slurping up their kool aide.

    October 20, 2009 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  16. Fitz in Texas

    And the number of people that disagrees with this President will only grow, and grow, and grow, and grow.

    October 20, 2009 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  17. Speaking for Liberals

    Your polls mean nothing. All polls, including the ones that make me feel good and the ones that make me feel bad, they are all meaningless. The only poll that matters is the one that we all participate in...and that is the election poll. CNN uses polls to replace real journalism and they do it to death. This is filler, but it's better than a token Palin article.

    October 20, 2009 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  18. Sniffit

    "Support for the public option under 50% as well."

    Funny, CNN just reported this morning that support for the public option is at something like 52% (opposition at 47%), having risen from the month of August when all the tantrum-throwing feces-flingers were trying to prevent any Dems from disseminating accurate, factual information about the proposed bills at town hall meetings.

    October 20, 2009 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  19. anotherGDlefty

    Ho Hum. Another day, another poll.

    We should have a poll on how many polls it takes to qualify as an accurate poll................Maybe we could poll the pollsters and have a great big ol' "poll of polls". Oh wait, the last one has already happened.

    The only poll that mattered happened on Nov 4, 2008 and it won't happen again until Nov 4, 2012.

    October 20, 2009 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  20. TangledThorns

    Currently half and increasing. America did not expect such a weak lefty to be in the WH.

    October 20, 2009 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  21. Mike Jones

    We are a center left country and that is what Obama is

    October 20, 2009 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  22. Tony

    More than half of the voters in this country disapprove of the president on the issues.

    It is amusing to watch the minority come to CNN.com and make excuses for that.

    October 20, 2009 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  23. Jay T.

    82% of Americans agree with Republicans on who will win the World Series...30% of Americans agree with Mitt Romney that Pluto is not a planet....77% of Americans agree with Donald Trump on methods to save heating costs in high-rise buildings in the middle-Northern section of the country....61% of Americans agree with Anderson Cooper that the mullet is no longer considered stylish above the Mason-Dixon line...99% of Americans agree to disagree with 71% of the pharoahs of Ancient Egypt.

    October 20, 2009 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  24. Sam

    Most of the Americans who disagree with the president do not realize that health care insurance snatches almost $13,000 per year out of their paychecks and that deregulation causes prices to increase 50% instead of competition driving the price down like it is supposed to do in theory. That's why Austinites pay much less for their electricity than Houstonians. If the media would do a better job of presenting what is really going on many people would forget about teabags and go to protest corporate headquarters instead, but of course, corporate headquarters pays CNN as well as others to present the "news".

    October 20, 2009 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  25. Darla (Edmonton, Canada)

    There are how many million people in the US? Why anyone would think that the opinions of a mere 1000 would adequately reflect the nation's opinion is beyond me ... it frankly defies credibility in my mind. When CNN polls even 0.01% of the total US population for a poll and reports the results ... that'll be the day that I start putting some viability on opinions expressed.

    October 20, 2009 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
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