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

CNN Poll: Obama approval under 50 percent

President Obama's job approval rating has slipped below 50 percent according to a new CNN poll.

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. Greg, MN

    The campaign is a lot more impressive than the man or the administration. He wants government to do everything. How about getting government out of the way. A jobs summit? How about cutting small (and large) business taxes – it worked in the 80's and Clinton reaped the residuals in the 90's. How about dropping Cap and Trade and not putting businesses at a disadvantage to foreign countries. Right now some businesses are probably wondering if they will be able to afford to operate under this proposal. Not to mention increased costs of fuel, electricity, transportation and inputs. What about taxes proposed on Health Care offered by companies in the Health Reform Bills. None of these encourage job creation or growth.

    December 4, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  2. terry,va

    The 48% approval rating must be from welfare cases.

    December 4, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |

    Obama's popularity and approval rating will continue to drop as
    the idea that he approved continuing the Afghanistan war by sending 30,000 more troops!!! And, what a shame, Obama WAS the only hope for the Middle Class and less fortunate. We all know that the War makes rich people richer while continuing the loss of the lives of our
    Soldiers. THEY should be brought home. NOW!!!

    This decision made the Republicans very happy and will surely kill
    "entitlements" for all and the Health Care STRONG PUBLIC OPTION.

    I could NEVER vote for a Republican or a Democrat who votes for the
    War and against HEALTH CARE. Hard working Americans are losing
    their homes over Health Care and Job Los!!!!

    December 4, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  4. Jim Cripe

    As far as President Obama giving a timeline for pulling troops out of Afghanistan was a wise decision. There should be no doubt in anyones mind what our goals are and when we are leaving. Afghanistan has to to get their act together now not later. If we can't afford health care for millions of Americans then we can't afford a war in a foreign country that drags on for years and uses our resorcues at an alarming rate. The degree of corruption in this war would more than pay for health care. Timelines are important and bench marks are important. We now have them-we have only one choice-make it work.

    December 4, 2009 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  5. Right wingnuts are the darlings of dementia

    I'll bet the birthers are ecstatic to find this out. The right wingnuts have an approval rating of 20%, republicans 25%. All this reflects a difficult time for all elected officials.

    December 4, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  6. Jake

    I don't believe it for a second! next time you poll, give me, my friends, family, co-workers and neighbors a call!

    December 4, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  7. Jamie

    I would like to remind those who pay attention to history, that a whole generation of women rallied against Woodrow Wilson because he wasn't getting around them quick enough. And they were partly right! Alice Paul and others didn't stop and 19th Amendment came to pass and now we have the right to vote. Luckily society had not been able to breed the Ann Coulters of the world yet. Larger point – social change, especially for social groups, comes in waves and it is up to you to make your wave now!!!

    December 4, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  8. Right wingnuts are the darlings of dementia

    Obama could never become the worst president, as Bush has sewed that up for all eternity.

    December 4, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  9. Mark

    May be his approval rating will go up if he mentions he will stop pursuing the Cap and tTrade bill legislation in light of the Climate-Gate scandal breaking in the UK and starting to spread here in the US.

    December 4, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  10. Chuck in CSG


    December 4, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  11. justin

    What's funny is independents are polling very close to republicans when it comes to Obama's major policy initiatives.

    Obama has realigned the conservative movement back to it's origins of personal responsibility, individual liberty, and limited government once again. Thank god the era Bush's compassionate conservatism will finally be over.

    Thank you Obama, exposing yourself and the Democrat's radicalism was just what the country needed to get back on track!

    December 4, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  12. maggie

    Who cares. Let the man get on with it. If you didn't like him or think he could do the job then why did you vote for him.

    December 4, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  13. Pam from Iowa

    If Bush would have concentrated on Afghanistan and combatting terrorism instead of getting his oil buddies access to Iraqi oil fields, there would be no need for Obama to send more troops now.

    What I find hard to believe is all the negative comments about Obama when there was very little criticism from the general public when Bush was in office and stood behind that podium in January of 2003 and lied to every American. The yellowcake in Nigeria had already been proven false but he made the statement anyway (and then later had his staff identify a CIA agent because her husband was the one who debunked the yellowcake theory!).

    December 4, 2009 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  14. SocialismBad

    Of course his approval rating is dropping like a rock. He hasn't gotten ANYTHING right in his first year. Unemployment is through the roof and all of his proposals hurt creation of new jobs. One year into his term and he's having a "jobs summit"??? Give me a break!

    He obviously thinks he can blame this on Bush forever but the American people aren't buying what he is selling.

    December 4, 2009 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  15. hongli

    This poll must have been done in a Republican nest. Regardless he's still the President of the Free World until 2012.

    December 4, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  16. terry,va

    Don't you know that the 40-45% of this country that doesn't pay taxes are for him? Stick your hand out and get Obummie bucks. Haven't you seen the videos on this? Where does he get the money? From hard working Americans like me!!!! I say if you don't pay taxes you shouldn't be allowed to vote. My back is sore from carrying people.

    December 4, 2009 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  17. virginia voter

    The primary issue facing Americans when Obama ran for office was lack of representation for the majority of Americans and an increasing focus on groups that represent the wealthy minority in all facets of government and economy. The Obama administration has lost that primary focus... from the first day in office. I believe that he can be a strong leader, but he needs to step up and support the majority of Americans which was his platform. The rhetoric of throwing out the lobby voice disappeared... we remain without true representation and it is the biggest problem in this country. The bailouts is not how to step up... changing the representation focus in this country is how to step up. We're strong and we'll fight through economic challenges... if the wealthy folks who created the mess suffer the challenges as well. As long as the wealthy get huge executive compensation and huge bonuses and capitalize on tax loopholes at the expense of the majority of Americans... the entire government is going to lose support.

    December 4, 2009 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  18. Johnny DC


    It doesn't make you stupid, it doesn't make you betray your policies, and it certainly doesn't make you a racist.

    It makes you a realist, and an honest person.

    For once, admit your disappointment. We do. Most Conservatives admit that Bush and his advisers were epically bad. Today's Liberals, for whatever reason, would follow their messiah off a cliff if he led them there. It's saddening.

    December 4, 2009 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  19. Dex Houston TX

    Amercians are as fickled as a school girl....besides if I had to choose between the direction the Republicans want to take this country verses President Obama....I have to stand with our current president.

    No one in the my life time has been faced with the challenges President Obama faces...NO ONE! So you can take this poll and any future polls and flush it...President Obama is doing an outsatndaing job.

    December 4, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  20. Terry from West Texas

    I think Obama's approach is to do the best he can and let the polls take care of themselves. Harry Truman followed that strategy. He started out as unpopular, then won a dramatic election victory, then ended up unpopular again – until historians re-evaluated his accomplishments. He, like Obama, had to deal with a Democratic majority in Congress that consisted of small men with small minds combined with a Republican minority that was, like this one, insane.

    When compared with the imaginary ideal president, Obama is lacking I guess. When compared to living men and women who might be considered for the presidency, he stacks up pretty well.

    Let me ask those who criticize Obama, what would they do differently about Afghanistan, the economy, climate change, health care, etc.? The Conservative answer is "Nothing. We would do absolutely nothing. We would let these problems solve themselves – or not. It's not our problem."

    Republicans, what would President McCain be doing differently that you would support?

    December 4, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  21. Mike in MN

    Obama has been dropping in the polls since this last summer. The CNN poll is the fifth major poll to show Obama's approval rating below 50%. And all polls show he has been dropping for months now. Obama is not delivering on his promises and he and his priorities are out of touch with a majority of voters. Little by little voters are realizing that Obama is governing as a liberal on domestic issues while polls show the majority of voters are center right.
    The highest priorities of a majority of voters are the jobs, the economy and the out of control growth in the deficits. Not health care reform and cap and trade. And a growing majority of voters view the stimulus as failded in terms of jump starting the economy and creating jobs.
    Until Obama can deliver positive results on jobs and the economy and defict reduction, he will contiune to fall in the polls.

    December 4, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  22. TangledThorns

    Obama is a loser and it shows today. I'm glad America is finally waking up. Let's vote this empty suit out in 2012!!

    December 4, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  23. Rick from Murfreesboro, TN

    Barack Obama is the best President we have had in a long time. He is forced to do things which will make him unpopular in order to fix the mess that he was left with. The sad situation we are in is directly attributable to the incompetence and greed of the Republican party and the right wing radicals who call themselves conservatives. It doesn't help that they are fighting him in order to score political points. They don't care about Americans, just their bank accounts. Mr. Obama is showing great courage in doing what he thinks is right in the face of an avalance of lies and criticism.

    December 4, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  24. Right wingnuts are the darlings of dementia

    The popularity of real media has dropped because the extreme media of Fox usually reports made up or untrue stories. Shoddy journalism seems to sell to the uninformed. Beck and Hannity have one mission, and they are not going to let facts get in the way.

    December 4, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |

    Hershey shipped overseas.

    Whirlpool shipped overseas.

    And Americans keep buying Hershey's and every appliance imaginable at Sears, etc. Every appliance sold in the USA is
    made overseas.

    As someone here stated, the government needs to make it
    less palitable, (profitible) to ship companies overseas.

    It is all the result of greed, as if these companies did not make
    enough profit right here in the good ole USA.

    They want OUR Soldiers to fight and die for our country and they treat
    the families who put bread on the table like nobody's!!!!!!

    WE NEED jobs and Health Care Reform with a VERY STRONG
    PUBLIC OPTION NOW!!!! The Republicans are not interested in

    I am so against this continuence of the WAR. NO MORE WAR.



    December 4, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
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