December 4th, 2009
11:56 AM ET
8 years ago

CNN Poll: Obama approval under 50 percent

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="President Obama's job approval rating has slipped below 50 percent according to a new CNN poll."]Washington (CNN) - Support for President Barack Obama's Afghanistan policy is fairly high, but that hasn't stopped his approval rating from dropping below 50 percent for the first time in a CNN poll.

According to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation national survey released Friday, 48 percent of Americans approve of the job Obama's doing as president, with 50 percent disapproving. The 48 percent approval is a 7 point drop in approval from last month.

"The poll indicates that the biggest drop in approval comes from non college educated white voters," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "That's one indication among many that Obama's growing unpopularity may be more related to unemployment and the poor economy."

In fact, six in ten Americans questioned say they favor Obama's plan to send 30,000 more troops to that country. Two-thirds also support his plan to start removing U.S. forces from Afghanistan in the summer of 2011 - although the poll indicates most Americans think that announcing that timetable in advance was a bad idea, and they are skeptical whether conditions in Afghanistan in 2011 will actually allow the U.S. to start drawing down troop levels.

Support for Obama's policies does not translate into support for the war itself; a majority still say they oppose U.S. action in that country.

"That may currently be a reflection on George W. Bush rather than Obama," says Holland. "Two-thirds say they blame the former president, not Obama, for the problems the U.S. currently faces in Afghanistan."

But the poll suggests the conflict is eventually going to become Mr. Obama's War, with 54 percent saying they will blame Obama, not Bush, for any problems the U.S. faces in Afghanistan in 2011.

The poll was conducted Wednesday and Thursday, after the president spelled out his new Afghanistan policy in a prime time address Tuesday night at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York.

Several late-November polls have indicated Obama's approval rating this low even before his speech at West Point. Weekly averages of national polls showed Obama's approval consistently at 52 or 53 percent from mid-October through mid-November.

"But in the week before Thanksgiving, his average approval rating slipped to 49 percent - solid evidence that something was going on before Obama announced his Afghan policy," adds Holland.

Obama's rating dropped 18 points among non-college whites, but only four points among whites who attended college - a good indication that the economy and other domestic issues are hurting the president.

Obama also dropped 15 points among whites under the age of 50, but only four points among older whites.

"That may partly be due to Afghanistan, but the young are also the group hardest hit when unemployment rises. The same is true for white women, whose approval of Obama dropped 12 points," says Holland.

Obama is not the first president to drop below 50 percent in his first year in the White House. That dubious honor goes to Ronald Reagan, whose approval rating dipped to 49% in November, 1981, and stayed below that mark for two years. Bill Clinton also dropped well below the 50 percent mark by May, 1993 - the fastest on record.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted by telephone, with 1,041 people questioned. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report

Filed under: CNN Polls • President Obama
soundoff (236 Responses)
  1. No More Incumbents

    Literacy must also hover around 50%

    December 4, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  2. Eric in Denver

    It is amazing that it is even 48%. In a few months I would project it closer to the approval ratings of the do nothing but spend congress. Please see a list of the presidents accomplishments below!!!!

    December 4, 2009 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  3. Waking Up

    America is finally waking up to the latest fraud we elected! Less than 3 years until we can put Obama back out in the job market and get our country back on track. It's going to be a long three years though.

    December 4, 2009 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  4. Dem from AZ

    I think is what is upsetting is I see Pres. Obama working so hard with alot on his plate and people are giving him little support on both sides of the fence. Keep up the good fight Pres. Obama. I cant wait for success to happen. It will not happen over nite. I understand that.

    December 4, 2009 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  5. RealityKing

    Wow! If even Keating Holland can't progressively focus group a positive performance report then Obama is in deeeeep doodoo now..

    December 4, 2009 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  6. Rob in Detroit Mi.

    I think if the Independants want the chang they want ,thenc they need to side with the Dems to vote out the Republicans.

    December 4, 2009 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  7. Wake UP

    I can't believe 48% of the people are still under the spell of this awful policies president. He is the worst combination of inexperience, bad policy and hubris. What a disappointment.

    December 4, 2009 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  8. Right Leaning Independent

    What?? The Anti Business, Banks and Wall Street commander that wants to tax the rich until they are poor is falling in the polls!! Go figure!! America has finally woken up and sees the person they elected for who he really is! Like it or not Business and Rich folks create jobs! Rich folks spend money which makes jobs. Keep taxing them to support your social handouts and see how long it takes the economy to expand to the point that jobs are created....

    December 4, 2009 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  9. jfs Memhis, Tn

    I have never been called for my approval. I am a moderate republican who not only supports Obama but would gladly vote for hm again...happily. I think that your polls are taken in So. Carolina , Alabama, and Mississippi. You know to make a controversy and make news.

    December 4, 2009 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  10. Steve (the real one)

    Just a matter of time. This happens to everyone! I think the major problem is broken promises and lack of patience! Also, the economy, the war, the status of jobs, overspending, healthcare. I understand this may not be all his fault but all this is on his watch, fair or not! This is just how politics is played out! Is racism a part? Absolutely! But remember folks disliked or even hated Bush too! Politics as usual!

    December 4, 2009 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  11. Right Leaning Independent

    This has nothing to do with Americans expecting things to turn around immediately. This has to do with Americans understanding the policies of Barack Obama. He rarely voted in the Senate and folks did not know where he stood on many issues. They are finding out now and they do not like it. It is as simple as that!

    December 4, 2009 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  12. steven

    CNN is getting its political cues, polls, etc from FOX news. Welldone CNN, that's why my polls indicate you poll lowest of all Cable News.

    December 4, 2009 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  13. Joe from Ohio

    This guy is going to be worse then JIMMY CARTER!!!

    December 4, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  14. Dave, the Truthteller

    Now that reality is settling in, little slogans like "change" and "hope" won't help anymore. If Republicans would return to the core principals that they had in 1994, 2010 could repeat history.

    December 4, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  15. Mike Syracuse, NY

    2012 can't come soon enough.

    December 4, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  16. Fitz in Texas

    There's no looking up at this point for the President. He's done so much damage that when he gets voted out in 2012 he'll be lucky if his ratings are higher than what Carter's were when he left.

    December 4, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  17. Marion/Alabama

    AS Obama's agenda becomes clear, it is business as usual,and not the change he promised,people can be fooled easily for awhile but not a long time,and they are watching Obama become another political puppet of the special interest groups,Unions,Enviromentalists,Wall street,and the Elite of the Democratic party. While paying lip service to the working middle class and promises,and promises,and promises,that are hollow lies.

    December 4, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  18. Sandra,Atlanta

    How do you determine who gets polled? No one has ever asked me except these stupid robo calls for local politicians and anti-abortion people.

    Have you ever considered that people are just listening to all the public whining and moaning that the Republicans are doing? Any idea where this country might be if John McCainPalin had been elected? It scares me to think about it.

    I know this is a novel concept but what if the Congress actually tried to work together instead of scoring political points and fear mongering from BOTH sides? I am so sick of criticism without solutions!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    December 4, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  19. rose

    I am not surprised." Obama has promised to much to soon". What a mess there was with Bush in charge. I don't really thing obama relized what a job it would be to get the country back on track. As the old saying goes Rome wasn't buildt in a day.

    December 4, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  20. Charlotte

    This just shows that we need a more educated population.

    December 4, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  21. Change

    Funny thing about CHANGE, it keep changing.

    He is a politician of course it's time to start hating him.

    How about the cover up the Mercury poisoning coming out of the Obama Administration?

    His new FDA chief put Mercury dental fillings back on the safe list. And they put the brain poison ethyl mercury back into the H1N1 vaccine.
    The courts already found that the ethyl mercury [which is too toxic and banned from putting on the skin] is linked to autism. The medical issue is over as Case Law has spoken.

    December 4, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  22. Speaking for Liberals

    Ahem* Your polls mean nothing. All polls, the ones that make me feel good and the ones that make me feel bad are useless pointless and contrived. CNN uses polls in lieu of real journalism. I still approve of the Obama's job performance. He has a difficult job and he is doing the best he can. He has had to make some very un popular decisions.
    He is way better than the last president and he will get a second term.
    I know that the conservative right will pounce on this. They HATE Obama. They pray and pray for his downfall...even if that includes the downfall of our great nation.

    December 4, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  23. Stu

    And this is a surprise?

    December 4, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  24. Indiana Voter

    It is easy to see why CNN's ratings are tanking when you are the last to admit that this President's polls are below 50%. Every other major, and more reliable, poll has had him under 50 for a couple of months now. AND this is the first time I have ever heard a news organization say that the majority of people approve of how Obama is handling Afhganistan. Where are the numbers on that one? It seems that CNN is trying to protect Obama as much as possible. However, knowing some of the idiots that post on here, most will believe anything CNN says without actually fact checking it.

    December 4, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  25. Right wingnuts are the darlings of dementia

    Doing the right thing does not generate a lot of support from the left or the right. It is a bit early to judge Obama's performance, as a number of economic indicators are in his favor. Good thing the presidential election is in 2012, and not December 2009.

    December 4, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
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