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. Steph

    The thing is some people disapprove because he hasn't come out strong enough for a public option while others disapprove of health care reform in general. Some people disapprove of the US being in Afghanistan at all and want all the troops pulled out while others want a troop surge.

    This poll is meaningless unless it says who disapproves of what.

    October 20, 2009 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  2. The Real Tom Paine

    All a poll is a snapshot of opinion at a given moment: In 6 months, if his apporval rating was back in the 60s and skeptical Independents were leaning hsi way again, he would be hailed as the greatest since FDR. He's 10 months into his first term: the only poll that matters is the one in November 2012, nad the rabid Obama -haters would be well-advised to remember that. Bush 43 was riding high after being re-elected, and look how long it took him to become politically toxic.

    October 20, 2009 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  3. Terry, Butte, MT

    I don't understand people. If our leaders do nothing that make waves or puts a spotlight on themselves, their ratings are high. But if they actually try and address the problems facing the people then their ratings go down. But these same people that disapprove are also the ones that complain that our leaders don't do anything.

    When Obama came into office we were on t he verge of another great depression and Bush just handed out almost a trillion dollars to the wall street with no stings attached. Obama is trying to fix the problem and stave off major economic problems and finish up unfinished wars left over from Bush and working to help all Americans by focusing health care dollars on actual health care rather than corporate profits.

    He deserves the publics support in his efforts, not fear mongoring and war drum banging.

    October 20, 2009 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  4. S Callahan

    It's all in the jobs which equal stablity in families (food, housing , clothing, medical care)...without the jobs the polls will continue to affirm lack of confidence.....just imagine the polls a few months from now when the lady on the horse falls off....sad...

    October 20, 2009 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  5. m jeff

    At least he is trying to fix the problems Americans are facing and not starting a unjust war like the last administration.

    October 20, 2009 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  6. David

    Unfortunately you have to consider where the data comes from. You say over half and that is probably mostly senior citizens, the largest group and the only one that would be against any kind of change. We all get old and we all get set in our ways, it's a fact. They were against Medicare when it came out and now would fight to the death to keep it. Same old story, just in another century.

    October 20, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  7. Joe from Ohio

    Uncle Barrick is dropping like a rock !

    Unemployment is at 10%, the only people who are going to make out with HealthCare reform are the Attorneys, and all of his european buddies are saying bye bye when it comes to Iran.

    Now Uncle Barrick doesn't have G. Bush to blame every thing on. He owns the Store!

    Looks like Jimmy Carter all over again!

    October 20, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  8. Belle1

    You can like the man, and dislike his policies.

    However, as a Democrat, if he keeps up hiding the truth from Americans, then Americans will start disliking the man.

    How many fluff pieces before the news media starts asking tough questions?

    Who cares if Biden first said no? WASN"T he the one assigned to make sure no funds were wasted in the Stimulus? What's up with that?

    October 20, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  9. David

    The more Americans hear about the details of President Obama's policy proposals, the less they like them. The difficult part is to actually find a media outlet willing to report the details honestly. Most news organizations act like unpaid lackeys for this administration and do absolutely nothing to challenge it. I suppose CNN is too busy doing "fact checks" of Saturday Night Live skits to actually tell the American people what's going on!

    October 20, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  10. S M R

    These polls don't mean squat. What really matters is that all the youth have seen enough destruction by the GOP to NEVER VOTE REPUBLICAN AGAIN!!! The end result will be another LANDSLIDE by President Obama against ANY GOP HACK.

    October 20, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  11. Barbara343

    Ok, if all of these people disagree, why are his approval ratings so high?

    CNN: 55%
    Washintonpost:57%
    Gallup:50-54 on any given day

    Lets get concerned when they are in the 30's, comon people.

    October 20, 2009 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  12. Just an Average Joe

    Amazing how this works. A Republican congress and president practically ruin the country with their failed policies, a Democrat takes office and starts trying to fix everything the people before him ruined and still everyone whines about what he's doing.

    Republicans sure do have selective memory, don't they?

    Remember when there was a budget surplus?

    Remember who got us there?

    October 20, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  13. Belle1

    Hmmm...Gallup or Rasmussen polls vs ABC?

    Think Gallup and Rasmussen has more credibility.

    However, ABC, NBC keep up the numbers, and when you read the actual questions, and the opposition in the poll numbers, it makes one wonder how they came up 57% in agreement.

    Senate Health Care is going to cost the following:
    Individuals making 66K a year $4,620.00 more.
    Individuals making 33K a year $1,700.00 more.
    Individuals making 22K a year $750.00 more

    For those of you who don't know, 22K is poverty in the US.

    October 20, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  14. mike

    One and done.

    October 20, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  15. victim of republican greed

    Wingnuts really need to turn off Fox for 10 minutes a day. 57% of Americans approve of our president, which will be hard to beat in any election. Bush's popularity was at 43% and he was reelected to a second term. Based on their unwillingness to help Americans, the republicans will be destroyed at the polls in 2010 if health reform passes

    October 20, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  16. JG

    Now let's poll those same people, not give them a simple AGREE/DISAGREE option and ask them what solutions they have? the room gets awfully quiet.

    people act like obama is hiding from all of these issues like Bush did by going on vacation more than 40% of his presidency.

    Obama is confronting the issues, asking questions that nobody has brought up in years, and making people uncomfortable on important issues.

    do you guys really enjoy year after year of elections discussing the SAME ISSUES AS THE LAST 50yrs? let's come together and get something done, keep it moving.

    October 20, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  17. Hugo

    You cannot lead a Nation out of economic instability by spending more of what you do not have, anyone with any business sense understands that concept, even a dominican mamma probably gets that one. America has lost its industrial and manufacturing base through Free Trade agreements and our primary business has been growth through the commercial and housing markets. Until the Federal and State Governments figure out they have burdened the American people out of business and prosperity with environmental regulations, political pandering for votes, and taxation we are to remain kaput! Enforce our laws!

    October 20, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  18. jobless recovery

    Problem is people don't know what Obama really believes! Every story is spun positive and Obama sugar coats everything. Obama is doing an awful job. He has radical positions and radical people in his administration.
    Obama is chicago politics with a twist of socialism. Yuck.

    October 20, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  19. BK

    I think its less not agreeing with what he says and being tired of him taking longer to get it done than we'd like to see. "Yes we can" needs to become "Yes we will".

    October 20, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  20. Miguel in NY

    I voted for Barack Obama. Unfortunatelyl, the new poll numbers show his Achilles Heel; his failure fo fully engage the public in the issues that most concern us; healthcare, economy and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. If he had made his case more fully to the public sooner, he could have avoided this result. However, I am optimistic that he will succeed. He just needs to express his intentions to the public more efficiently.

    October 20, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  21. faithful democrat/jacksonville

    Half of the country disagree. What half? The poll only survey between 1200-1500 people (neither to say) this is not half of the country; maybe half in the poll. People say what you want and believe what you want......President Obama will be Cheif-in-Command for 2 terms. These polls that come out is just speculation and they do not include every person in this world. Yes it's just the GOP opinions and views of the President. These people just refuse to give credit, where credit is do. And whether some of the America people disagree with the President in the decision about more troops to Afgan...well it's not up to the people because they do not know what's going on there and has no ideal the stake of the situation. I approve of President Obama and his administration in whatever choices they make because they know better than we outsiders looking in or just people listening to alot of garbage. Be wise in your own decision about a person and not be influenced or manipulated by alot of haters toward President Obama.

    October 20, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  22. Debbie - Ohio

    According to a Washington Post poll today, 57% support a public option in healthcare reform.

    October 20, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  23. Darren

    Obama's efforts will go down in history as guiding the US down a path of peace and fairness for All Americans. The old Republican way way of selfishness, war mongering, religious extremism will never be again.

    October 20, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  24. JA/TN

    the other half is all he need, two-thirds disagreed with Bush and he furthered his agenda

    October 20, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  25. Dem TIl death

    Down with the Crooked Healthcare System in the U.S.or better yet .Make it exclusively for republicans. You know what they say":Birds of e feather flock together.:

    October 20, 2009 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
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