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. kd

    It'd be a bit higher if the Republicans didn't lie so much about him. They're fear tactics have some effect.

    December 4, 2009 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  2. db

    That number has actually been below 50% for some time in several other polls. You guys are just catching up.

    December 4, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  3. jack in denver

    OH PLEASE!!!!

    Republicans would KILL for a 48% approval!! They're circling the drain with 20%, INO over TWICE as many people approval of Obama as approve of republicans!!!

    December 4, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  4. Chas

    Please stop basing your poll numbers on the calls to John McCain, Sarah Palin, Rush, Newt, George, Dickie, John Boehner, etc. Call REAL American people. Your numbers will be drastically different – i.e. they will show we support a President who can make a decision – like it or not.

    December 4, 2009 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  5. Teneeshia

    Obama is constantly scrutinized by the media or having his performance rated constantly. Why do people think this is constantly happening? His intentions may be good but he's not God! I am apprehensive about sending more troops as well but the war has been started and now it must be finished.

    December 4, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  6. Rickster

    Gee, why would this be....let me count the ways:

    Almost 1 TRILLION dollars spent on "stimulus".......Failed
    His promise to bring the troops home.......................Failed
    His promise of transparency........................................Failed
    Cash for Clunkers..........................................................Failed
    His promise to cut spending......................................Failed
    His promise of no earmarks........................................Failed
    His efforts to gain support from China/Russia on anything....Failed
    Bringing the Olympics to USA...................................Failed

    December 4, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  7. WoW

    One of the very few times I agree with Dominican mama 4 Obama.

    As far as the subject matter of the article, and my points of view, I agree with our President on some points but differ on some of his main points like healthcare. I cannot understand how democrats voted to have lobbyists and politicians determine what kind of care you can receive that will be covered by this government insurance. This is an outrage and should not be allowed. This needs to be taken out of the bill and Republicans have asked for that but democrats yesterday turned them down. How can we allow politicians and lobbyists to determine what kind of care my doctor can give me??

    I think we all need to bring this up and have this changed. This is disgusting.

    It is reasons such as this as to why Obama's ratings are dwindling.

    December 4, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  8. T Harris - Doesn't Matter, USA

    I see we have a lot of people who think they know what the answer is to everything. You got the left wing nutjob blaming everything on the Republicans, because that's all he/she knows to do. You got some other idiot foaming at the mouth because he.she thinks differently about the war. Of course, they have all the answers.

    The only correct answer I have read is, "Obama bit off more than he can chew!" Sorry, folks, he's destroying America. Smile, because you are being flushed down the toilet. Compliments of King Obama!

    December 4, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  9. danielsterns

    As Americans, we have attention spans ranging from 0 to 1 second and demand what we want right away. To assume Obama is going to be "another Jimmy Carter" is completely bogus. It's impossible to judge an entire presidency based on work done in less than a year – especially with how bogged down legislation can get. You can't just snap your fingers and make the unemployment rate drop rapidly. Give him some credit for trying new ideas. We all know where we would be if neo-conservative was in office – moving backwards.

    December 4, 2009 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  10. Terrified in This Country

    It is a shame that the media has taken it upon itself to look for every possible way to slander the president in any way shape or form. So what his approval rating is not good...look at what shambles the country was in before he took over. In this age of instant gratification, it is not an overnight fix. It will take time, and the good thing about Obama is that he is fixing things with the long run in mind. In five or ten years we do not want this to occur again. And with the less than educated teenagers we have now, this would really be an issue when its their turn to run the country. WE ARE IN PERIL, if the changes do not take place and soon. Let him do his job, he is aware of his accountability, and what the decisions he will make will do the U.S.

    December 4, 2009 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  11. Corbett

    Obama may in fact be the worst person in US that we could have elected as President...except for all the rest.

    December 4, 2009 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  12. jon p

    Looks like 52 percent of America finally woke up.. Hope and Change my @#@...

    December 4, 2009 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  13. Jim

    I firmly believe Obama will be remembered as one of America's greatest presidents! Certainly as great as Truman or Kennedy, and in the rank of FD Roosevelt.

    Pres. Obama tackles the most difficult problems, understands issues thoroughly, does not follow the whims of public opinion, inspires our best instincts, and makes tough decisions (on the economy, energy, education, foreign policy, etc.) that will strengthen our country for years to come. I am tremendously proud we elected him.

    December 4, 2009 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  14. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    President Obama has done everything he said he would do while campaigning. Anyone who doesn't like him is either stupid, or has a vested interest!

    December 4, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  15. P. D.

    Another poll CNN? I remember when Bush was President and you rarely polled about him. Yet, every week you are polling about Obama.

    December 4, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  16. walleye

    Bush and his accomplices damaged this country like it's never been damaged before. And it's not just the phony war in Iraq or the torture memos that justified waterboarding. It's millions of missing emails and the constant use of executive privilege and signing statements.
    It's the secretive meetings with Enron and other energy executives and the wholesale firing of federal prosecutors. It's trying to get the president's personal attorney seated on the Supreme Court and that despicable Alberto Gonzales sitting in front of congressional investigators whining, "I don't remember, I don't know, I...etc."
    It's the domestic eavesdropping in violation of the FISA Court, the rendition prisons, and the lying. It's looking the other way while the City of New Orleans drowned and its people were left to fend for themselves.
    It's the violations of the Geneva Conventions, the soiling of our international reputation and the shredding of the U.S. Constitution. It's the handing over of $700 billion to the Wall Street fat cats last fall, no questions asked. Where is that money? What was it used for?
    It's the no-bid contracts to firms like Halliburton and Blackwater and the shoddy construction and lack of oversight of reconstruction in Iraq that cost American taxpayers untold billions.
    If the Republicans were serious about restoring their reputation, they would join the call for a special prosecutor to be appointed so that at long last justice can be done.
    It's too late for George W. Bush to resign the presidency. But it's not too late to put the people responsible for this national disgrace in prison.
    The election of this nation's first African-American president and his massacre of John McCain in the Electoral College is because of Cheney and President Bush and the myriad problems they left us all with.
    We have a GREAT President now.

    December 4, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  17. I support the President

    When do you people who constantly attack this president think this recession started? I doubt that most of you know, so I will tell you! It started at the end of 2007, a FULL YEAR BEFORE BUSH LEFT OFFICE!!! What did George W. Bush do for that year to try to help the economy???? All I hear is deafening silence. That's because he did NOTHING until the end of his term when he threw the TARP money (for Wall Street) together in a huge hurry because we were on the brink of financial meltdown! Why can't you people understand that the mess created by George W. Bush and his party is not going to be fixed in the first year of President Obama's term??? Do you have heads full of bricks instead of brains???!!!! Instead of constant back-stabbing and attacking President Obama who, unlike George W. Bush, IS helping the economy, why don't just once try to support your president and your country instead of trying to tear it down????

    December 4, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  18. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    People are finally beginning to catch on that Mr Wonderful hasn't a clue what he's doing as President.

    It's fairly plain he took office thinking he could just somehow wave a magic Presidential wand and ping! everyone would just suddenly fall in love with the idea of socialised medicine. Another couple ofpings! and the troops would be home Iraq and the economy would recover over the week-end.

    Reality sucks. It must suck especially hard when you kinda think of the entire US as a big Chicago community, where everyone fundamentally agrees with you on most issues, just waiting, eager, to be "organised".

    It's pretty obvious Obama is just little short of being overwhelmed by his job–and resigning to turn the whole mess over to Joe Biden would be even more of a fiasco than the one Obama's already in.

    December 4, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  19. Sine's below 50% because he saved the banks and auto industry (who are now paying the money back with interest) or because he wants healthcare for the american people? or is it because he gave an exit strategy for an 8 year war? or is it because we went from losing 750,000 jobs to 11,000 with unemployment starting to go down? All in less than a year, oh yeah he is doing such a horrible job-"rolls eyes*

    December 4, 2009 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  20. Doing the "best you can" may not be good enough

    People. Obama is doing "the best HE can". The problem is it may not be good enough. Although I did not and will not vote for him b/c of his policies/political beliefs, I do believe that he (and past leaders) is doing what HE/his advisors thinks is best. The problem is his best is not good enough at this time (according to the polls).

    Time will tell.

    December 4, 2009 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  21. mesha

    I respect President Obama very much and believe he is given much more info. then we will ever know. However, he claimed to bring the troops home. People who have been on the ground and serving in Afghanistan have said it's nothing other than a civil war. What are we trying to accomplish. It is known that most muslim extremists are no longer in Afghanistan. We are creating more hatred for the US just by our presence there. It's been a civil war that no one has defeated. What do we need to prove. I was hoping his witness to the bodies coming off the plane which made such a profound impact on him would change his mind. REALIZING PEACE BEGINS BY PUTTING DOWN YOUR WEAPONS. We don't belong there and need to use the funds being spent on this war which will never result in a victory on things like education. The most important thing for building up our future. I only hope he brings the troops home soon. Listens to people who are on the ground and realize extremists of the Muslim religion our in many countries including our own. We need to bring the troops home and really make an example out of his winning of the Nobel Peace Prize. I would only wish the support to leave Afghanistan and the polls would help him bring these troops back to their families.

    December 4, 2009 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  22. Ben

    Yeah – wow tough blow for Obama –

    I mean let's see what are Mitch McConnell and John Boehner polling at? Oh that's right 14% and 16% respectively.

    Wake me when the Rethuglicans break 20%.

    December 4, 2009 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  23. Dr. Rutlege

    At 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...."

    The Obama Administration HAS cut taxes; and keep in mind the "social handouts go right back into feeding the economy." If the unemployed had no money then things would be much worse. economics 101...trickle down economics did not work in the 80 of trying to allow the rich to keep everything to create jobs because it only caused inflation, but taxing the rich in the 90's under clinton allowed the economy to see an economic surplus, once Bush reversed that we saw yet another collapse in the system. And please do your research on the stimulus bill. 2/3 of that money hasn't even been spent yet. Patience is required and these polls are just a snap shot of fear mongering and the nay sayers going into the holidays.

    You are not an independent if you listen to all the rhetoric without doing your own research...hince right leaning. People on the right tend not to be very intuitive and offer no real solutions.

    Wellfare as you are afraid of calling it is helping this country squeak by. And not everyone on wellfare is on it because they are lazy or want to see the rich taxed out of existence there are plenty of professionals on wellfare from almost every industry. Get a grip.

    December 4, 2009 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  24. Unemployed In Iowa because of Obama

    Glad I didnt vote for him, I have been saying from day one, that Obanana was a joke, lier and a smoke blower and now it shows.

    December 4, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  25. gayle wagner

    And your surprised? He's turning this country against itself.. Pretty soon we will be eating our young.
    I'm tired of Mr. Obama apologizing for our country.. and as a result me.
    I would like to apologize to the country that he is now in the highest office of our country and shows such disrespect for the people here.. of course unless your part of his Socialist/Marxist agenda.
    Well good luck with that Barrack.. I doubt the American people will make the same mistake in 2012... and then you can go back to Chicago where you belong.

    December 4, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
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