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. used to be a Obama supporter

    Just another string of broken promises, I voted for Obama once
    not gonna make the same mistake twice.

    December 4, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  2. Objective Thinking

    "Dominican mama 4 Obama" highlights the hypocrisy of liberals – chastise Republicans for not creating jobs, but defend Democrats by saying you should blame the private sector for job losses.

    December 4, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  3. Dumbasrocks [R]s

    Let's face it. Obama, and for that matter any [D], are facing an uphill battle to begin with to get their approval rating to go significantly over 50%.

    To see this, merely recall the 2000 election where 50% of voting Americans actually CHOSE to put an inexperienced, failed [R] ideologue in the office of the presidency. And then recall that in 2004, after re-proving to the whole country his tendancy towards failure and inflexible adherence to rightwing ideology, about 50% of the American voters inexplicably CHOSE again to go with the known [R] FAILURE.

    Apparently 50% of the American public don't have the brains God gave to lab rats, to distinguish between good vs bad, right vs wrong, success vs failure. Thus in any poll that has a progressive with brains as its subject, 50% of the American people can be counted on to mis-place their support and approval for NO good reason at all.

    Just look at the demography of the drop in Obama's approval: domninated by uneducated white people.....the VERY people that the rightwing underbelly of this nation feasts on. 8 years of FAILED [R] policy, that they themselves supported for the most part, lost these people their jobs.....and they are too stupid/partisan to remember. Pathetic.

    December 4, 2009 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  4. Jenn, Philadelphia

    Let me see if I get this straight, Obama's numbers drop and it's still a "reflection on George Bush"? When will the current President be held accountable for his actions? The next administration?

    December 4, 2009 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  5. Enough

    I am surprised it is as high as it is..........considering Obama is the worst president ever and we are stuck with this Disaster in Chief for another 3 years!!

    December 4, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  6. Sniffit

    "the biggest drop in approval comes from non college educated white voters,"

    Funny how that works, isn't it?

    December 4, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  7. yuyu

    I can't believe how ignorant some people are. I know things are going to get better because our president is doing the best he can to improve very poor conditions in a very short time in many aspects. But, again, for some people, everything is just about hate and criticism without solutions. What a shame.

    December 4, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  8. Teleprompter

    First, let me say I am willing to bet a days pay that all of you who say polls do not mean anything, were the same people ranting and raving about what the polls said prior to election day.


    Tom in Virginia
    >>>>>Considering the mountain of crap left Obama by Bush-Cheney,

    My god, How long are you going to beat this dead horse? Blame Bush, blame Cheney, blame Fox News, Rush, Hannity and whatever Republican you can come up with. Give it up, stop the blame game, please.

    Augustine December 4th, 2009 12:26 pm ET
    >>>"The poll indicates that the biggest drop in approval comes from >>>>non college educated white voters." I don't think that you need to >>>>know much else in order to evaluate this poll.

    So, what are you saying here? The fact I am a blue collar person with only high school education, that I do not know enough about the world and condition of the US to be worth a poll question.
    That my opinion should revolve around stereo typed attitudes that if I do not have a college education, I must be a tea bag person of low intelligence?
    I find it funny how many college educated people work right along side of me doing blue collar work. They puff thier chest out and tell me I have four years of college,,, I say, Yep, grab the shovel and get back to work, because I am your supervisor and I was just an average high school kid. But oh yea,,, I am nothing in your eyes,, right?

    Last,,, where is Obama today,,,, back on his campaign trail again. Doing speeches to tell people his dream. Just stop, do your job, or grab a shovel and come work beside the people who do not approve of you right now.

    December 4, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  9. Russ

    Obama is finished. Folks are right that he has only had 10 months to try to change the environment. However, the folks are smart and know that the policies he has implemented to change it are failing and will not work.

    Thus his poll numbers will continue to slide, the Republicans will sweep in 2010, Obama will get crushed in 2012 and Sarah Palin will be President.

    By that time everyone will be so feed up with Obama that "Gumby" could run against him and get elected. This is what happened with Bush. Everyone was finished with him and it is why Obama won. Any Democrat could have won.

    Obama's policies are hurting the country and he will not win again unless he changes.

    December 4, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  10. Mike in MN

    Obama is a joke.
    He is a liberal progressive who pretened to be a centerist to get elected. He tried to get his liberal agenda passed thru congress with the liberal leadership of Pelosi and Reid before the center right majority of voters figured out what was happening. It didn't work as center right Blue Dog democrats slowed the process down and the country figured it out.
    Now Obama is stuck. He can continue to try and cram his liberal agenda down the throats of a center right majority of voters. Or move to the center like Clinton did and piss off the liberal wing of his own party.
    Either way Obama is a one term president. He gives a good speech, but he is terrible at actual governing.

    December 4, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  11. Otto

    Oh ignorant people, the present government can do only so much. This is a worldwide crisis and Obama is not God. No Republican can do better and their tax cut agenda will only cause more burden.

    At least there are no tax increase "as yet" but you all seem to think the government should employ 6 million people. Oh what crazy and foolish ideas.

    Only independent businesses can turn the tide of unemployment and it takes time. Everyone looks at the numbers over the past 11 months and expect a sudden change; this is impossible. In the same breath, you crazy people complain about big government; while talking about government taking over everything.

    There is only one reason why this insane attitude continue today; you are all illiterate, lazy, ignorant, uneducated and above all foolish.

    You are in and were born in the greatest nation on earth; why then are you not educated? Why don't you all have PHD or at least and masters degree? Had you gone to school and college; earned a solid education, you would have nothing to complain about.

    Jobs are available for anyone with the required experience and education but because you waste your days in school or preferred to waste your parents earning, you now find reasons to complain.

    Join the welfare line then and pretend to be good Americans. I call you foolish, insane and a waste of space while using precious resources in a wasteful manned. Get educated!

    December 4, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  12. Richard Puente

    President Obama has already change the world for the better, noone can take that away from him. If the people of this country are too busy to pay close attention and hunger for more GOP policy. I hope you get what you wish for... and more. Misery is always there to hold your hand.

    December 4, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  13. chris l

    bwahahahaha- If you subtract about 7 or 8 percentage points from the CNN poll that is most likely the actual number. 40 to 41% approval is more like it. WOW, you libtards are doomed in 2010 no matter how much denial you are in. Oh and 2012 (if he is not impeached first) fuggeddaboutit.

    December 4, 2009 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  14. Blame Rush

    Speaking for Liberals December 4th, 2009 12:50 pm ET
    He is way better than the last president and he will get a second term

    How long are you liberals going to play this silly game?

    Blame Bush, Cheney, Rush, Hannity, Orielly, all Republicans, anyone who is involved with Tea parties or speaks out at town hall meetings.
    Whats next, the easter bunny and Santa,,,, I suppose so if you find out they voted republican.

    I am tired of hearing,, wah, wah, wah, ,,,, it is not OUR fault. It is ALL Bushes fault.

    December 4, 2009 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  15. I am the not-so-great and powerless wizard of Rush

    Aenta just announced that because their profit margin was not enough in 2009 that they are cutting 600,000 from their rolls in 2010.
    They need to make more money.

    Now do you see why we need a strong public option to compete with these theives?

    December 4, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  16. steve

    Fix it now! Now! Now! I want mine now! Mine,mine, mine! It's been almost a year already! What's wrong with you!? Hurray up! I can't wait. I can't! I can't! WaahhaaWahaaaaa.

    We have a distinct problem in this country with patience and memory and myopia.

    If, after three years, jobs are not on the rise, medical costs are not beginning to be on the way to stability, troops are not on their way out of Afghanistan and there's no hope of the uninsured to be insured, then I will think there's been great oratory and an equally great vacuum.

    December 4, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  17. the other Joe

    Wow... seems like anyone in an elected office can share common ground with sports athletes you see on TV. It's easy to point fingers and judge someone who fumbled or made a mistake while completely forgetting what they really do on the field. Sadly, the world is made up of armchair quarterbacks....Bill O, Glenn Beck, Republicans, Dems, etc. All pointing fingers without offering viable solutions. If you don't like the direction we're heading speak to your elected officials with your concerns (and hopefully your ideas) and if they won't listen? Vote them out.

    We do have options, just make sure you use them before it's too late.

    December 4, 2009 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  18. Sniffit

    " If Republicans would return to the core principals that they had in 1994, "

    YOu do realize that one of th efirst things out of Gingrich's mouth in 1994 when they took back congress was to say they would let Medicare and Social Security "wither on the vine," don't you? But hey, I suppose if the "non college educated" Americans out there want to vote against their own interests (again), then so be it. We can pretty much sign off on America's demise without health care reform, and you morons out there don't even realize that the current fleecing we're all taking from big business and Wall Street, particularly the insurance industry, is all because they're consolidating whatever they can get their hands on before the country goes belly up for real.

    December 4, 2009 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  19. Dean

    99% of us are sick of the polls

    December 4, 2009 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  20. David Nunez

    You Libs are the biggest Hypocrites on earth. Defense Secretary Gates is touting Obama's decision to use the same tactics that Bush used in Iraq. Obama and all you drones were against the Military Surge in Iraq. How can a poll show 50% of democrates (ie Statist) for Obama's Afghanistan tatics but when democrapes where 75% against Bush's Iraq tatics when the tatics are essentially THE SAME!!

    December 4, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  21. Donna Stayman

    I know how the liberal media must hate having to trot out the truth on the polls nos. for Obama. I see no rise in his poll nos. in the near future either. I applaud the conservatives, tea party movement, & our GOP members on the Hill for helping to shine the truth on this socialist admin. and the liberal Dems in congress who are out to destroy all that's good about this country. Keep up the good work!

    December 4, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  22. Allen

    A man with no experience in business, international relations or the military was elected President of the United States and people are actually surprised that he's having some problems?

    December 4, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  23. Justin

    We're less than a year into his term – not early enough for me to judge yet. I waited two years before I started judging Bush's successes/failures and worrying about his poll numbers. I'll give Obama the same benefit.

    Many Americans are not so patient. I'm willing to give the president (regardless of party) time to start showing results, because one year is barely enough time for a president to get things rolling.

    Poll numbers at this stage are too malleable to accurately show anything but gut sentiment. If Obama starts showing success within the next year, poll numbers will go up. If he fumbles, they will slide. It is a sign of how deeply divided the country is, though.

    December 4, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  24. Craig Green

    Just shows what a lack of intelligence there is out there.. I'll predict this that by next summer his poll number will be in the mid 50s when jobs start getting better. People never look at the long term as they want is immediate gradification.. I support you Mr. President. Keep up the good work... P.S. I didn't get polled..

    December 4, 2009 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  25. Lost all my HOPE

    I really had alot of HOPE with Obama that it would be a new start for America. He has broken everything he promised for. Where's the transparancy he spoke of? Why can't I read the bills presented, then email my government officials before they vote on he promised. Why hasn't the Iraq war stopped like he said it would? Why is he funding African's to have abortions with my tax money? Why is he printing trillions of dollars out of thin air?

    Let me leave you with this analogy: If we are playing monopoly together. And I am doing poorly for example. Then I go upstairs to my color printer and print off 50,000 dollars in monopoly money. Then your 2,000 you had, (that you were going to buy Boardwalk from another player)...just became worthless. Why? Because I just bought it for 10,000 dollars that I gave myself in my "bailout". Each time I print off fake monopoly money, your money just gets more and more worthless.

    Gold is going through the roof. Thanks Obama – you SOCIALIST!!!!

    December 4, 2009 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
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