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. The cow says MOO


    Creating this mess: 8yrs

    Expectations that said mess will be fixed within 8mths: Silly.

    Since 1/2 the counrty was divided it does not surprise me that his polls are so low. Want onion soup, someone has to cut up some onions.

    Less mistakes than Bushcheneyrove for sure..

    Well maybe not Pelosi.. 🙂

    Need to give this time, there will be mistakes. I think we will come out ahead given 4-6yrs.

    Give it time.


    December 4, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  2. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    @Tom in VA : "Considering the mountain of crap left Obama by Bush-Cheney, NO ONE on the RepubliCANT side side of the idle could have come even CLOSE to the effectiveness that Obama had..."

    Ron Paul.

    On the economic mess, he's been right every time. On foreign policy, he likely would have done what Obama promised–shutting down the Iraq mess–but failed to deliver. And I seriously doubt he'd have waded into the swamp that's been sinking armies since the time of Alexander the Great, Afghanistan.

    December 4, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  3. MP in NC

    Don't worry, Obama fans. It's just the stupid white folks that disapprove. The intellectuals, like Keating Holland, still love him. How many times in this spin-article could they mention that non-college educated whites had the biggest drop?

    December 4, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  4. george

    NO SURPRISES HERE! Been trending downward for several months now!! But of course, the Administration pays NO attention to the Polls when they are trending downward...saying they don't really mean anything..>BUT...when they are trending Upward...."See I told you so, we ARE on the right track and our Programs are working!" YEAH......... The definitive lack of concrete Decision Making is absolutely MISSING from the Obama Administration....too much rhetoric and political posturing and sounding politically correct...BUT....that doesn't GET THE JOB DONE. We should be addressing each challenge in a priority pecking order and seeing that problem address completely and pursuing it aggressively to a FINISH....not Dancing Around multiple problems and challenges with NO real finish in sight! Song, Dance and Rhetori WILL NOT get the job done...Effective and Timely Decision Making and Action WILL. Please copy this message to Ms Pelossi and Mr Reid.

    George in Rochester

    December 4, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  5. Linda from Minnesota

    Doing the right thing is not always the most popular thing. I support this president and wish him (and our country) success in his efforts to turn this country around from 8 years of mis-management.

    December 4, 2009 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  6. Marry

    Instant gratification, lack of reflection and short memory – the not so good American traditions.

    December 4, 2009 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  7. Tina

    Finally, the people of this country are waking up that Obama is not apt for presidency. 11 months - 11 months - and Debts, Wars, Economic problems, Global Warming issues, etc.. etc.. are piling up. Obama is really lucky to be President of United States without much qualification.
    Let us have Hillary instead. At least with her, she is who she is and not like Obama that leads with lies just like Bush.

    December 4, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  8. gayle wagner

    one more thought...

    I think those who support MR.Obama may just be those with their hands out and upturned.. waiting for Obama to go into HIS stash for mo money... quoting some woman in line in Chicago "mo money"
    Of course, we have the Congress democrats who 'have' to support him cause thats the way the game is played...
    Leave our health care alone
    Get rid of illegal ALIENS
    Stop Cap and Trade because it's based on lies from Al Gore and his cronies
    Stop the payoffs and pork
    and.. just one more thing... how can you live with what your doing here? This is the greatest country ever.. and it seems as if you, Obama and the masses of ignorant and greedy that worship at your feet, are so far out of touch with reality that when you fall.. I guess you will look surprised... but those of us that are paying attention.. as Americans we will reach down to help other Americans back to their senses.

    December 4, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  9. chenna benna

    If we start posting job gains starting next month, his numbers will go up. The one thing some people don't understand is that this President didn't create the problems we face right now, but his job now is to fix it. His approval number are linked to fixing the economy. If he begins to turn around the worst economic failure since the Great Depression, we will see these numbers go up.

    December 4, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  10. brownvan

    I like all of the comments that say this poll was skewed up by CNN to make the President look better.
    By the way, the running poll of the President's approval rating which is posted on the FOX News website still has him holding above 50% as of this morning. So, what FOX is too liberal also?

    December 4, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  11. aware

    All hyperbole – no substance labels the guy from Chicago! 😦

    December 4, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  12. Karen

    Some of the comments here are hilarious. As an independent, (college-educated) I can predict the comments from the header for each story.

    One thing I don't understand, according to liberals Republicans are old white rich men. They're also old/white ignorant knuckle dragging trogolodytes. So, how did those troglodytes get so rich? Was there gold in the cave dwellings?

    Also, according to Republicans, all liberals are sitting on the steps of the government housing waiting for their next welfare check to arrive.
    They're also all rich elitist snobs.

    Come on folks, we're better than this.

    December 4, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  13. BillMo

    I am an uneducated white guy so maybe the educated could help me understand this poll. Without knowing how many of my uneducated brothers and sisters participated vs. the educated, I need some help figurin'. If his approval dropped 7% and only 4% for educated and 18% for non.......I guess he had had a lot of the uneducated supporting him before. And what about the Non-whites, educated or not.

    December 4, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  14. JaneCItizen

    Can the man make it completely through his first year in office before writing him off as a loser? Let's not forget he's trying to fix 8 years of phuckery, war, greed and corruption.

    December 4, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  15. joe magarzatz

    from the article: "The poll indicates that the biggest drop in approval comes from non college educated white voters," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

    Non college educated white voters = Palin base.....

    Overall "it's still the economy stupid" as the last great President William Jefferson Clinton said.

    December 4, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  16. brownvan

    I stand corrected, the FOX poll currently says 49.3 approve, 45 disapprove. Okay haters, figure out how to spin that into a majority disapproval.

    December 4, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  17. WIlly Brown

    In 6 more months 34%

    December 4, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  18. ?

    If you think president Obama has had chance to put this economy in the state that its in. i say this to you. you are un American for not allowing the democrat process take its course. allow him to do his job and support our PRESIDENT.. Dont be UN American i believe in speech is fine. but respect the Law and Laws of this great nation before YOU wake up and say to yourself its my fault..i didnt do anything but other thought what are you doing to help this Country when no one is LOOKing ?

    December 4, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  19. munchmom

    Good, it shows that people are starting to realize what a horrible mistake was made last November....funny, I knew it would be from the beginning.

    CNN–please post...

    December 4, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  20. Bugl3t

    Until folks realize that it is the corporate libertarian thieves who outsource your jobs, privatize wealth and socialize risk – the ignorant will continue in their "gimme now" expectations.

    Bush had 8 yrs to rape this country with help from deregulated business and Dick "Darth Vader" Cheney's drive to war as a boon to the military industrial complex. Ronald Reagan began the largest war on the middle class by giving the very rich extreme tax breaks and lessing any control we had on their shenanigans in banking, insurance and Wall Street.

    Trickle down? Yeah, you KNOW what trickles down... and it sure ain't money, honey.

    BTW, as a freelance web developer, my business is picking up at a time of year it typically doesn't. As the jobs scene improves - and it IS - the morons who only live in the moment will change their minds yet again and start to realize that it takes more than 10-11 months to fix what has been broken down over the past 20-30 years!

    Get out of the wars, NOW!.
    Single-payer healthcare system – FOR PROFIT insurance companies will NEVER do anything that hurts their bottom line.

    Obama 2012!

    December 4, 2009 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  21. mjm

    "My company, like so many others, has outsourced our call center to Canada"

    Because the roll of the government is to create a favorable environment for job creation. When government creates an unfavorable environment, jobs are lost.
    Businesses like low taxes. When taxes go up, businesses go elsewhere. Look at Detroit, California and IL.
    We need to create an environment in which businesses based here in America ARE THE MOST PROFITABLE, not the most taxed.

    Don't blame private industry because your liberal president hates profit.

    December 4, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  22. liz in St Louis MO

    Honestly I do not understand these CNN polls. Seems like they come from conservative bases where the likes of Palin get above 60%. Let's face it, President Obama in doing ancredibe job in the midst of adverstity such as the war in Afghanstan. He even scaled back the numb If I understood it well, the generals over there has requested for an additional 40,000 troops but he ended up authorizing for 34,000. He has to make difficult decisions and again, you cannot satisfy everyone. Additionally, he was being vilified for taking too long to send the troops and when he finally does, it becomes a problem as well. So what can he do, he fails to send in reinforcement he will be trouble especially now that they are under pressure to keep the Taliban at bay. Give the man credit where it is due. It is obvious that some people just want to spite him.

    December 4, 2009 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  23. College Student

    Can someone please tell me why Obama is doing a bad job?
    First of all, he promised to get troops out of Iraq and direct the US forces t o the real threat which is Bin Laden and what has he just done? He is sending 30000 more troops to Afghanistan and pulling troops out of Iraq.
    Second of all, because of Obama, the US has much better relations with their international counterparts.
    Third of all, he has been doing all HE can to push healthcare, it is the democrats in the Senate that are holding his plans back.
    Fourth of all, since he has become President, GDP has improved.
    I do not see why people say he is the worst president when he has actually done so much in less than a year. People just want to look for reasons to hate on Obama and just spew out what they hear from Fox News and (yes, it has a conservative bias). If people actually kept up with politics and looked into what is really happening, they would see that he has indeed been a very good President so far.

    December 4, 2009 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  24. B

    Cleaning up a TRAIN WRECK is not a popular job to have...

    December 4, 2009 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  25. Ex-NC-Pub

    The Rush-Beck-Fox-liecans have done a great job of convincing people that Obama is responsible for their misery and the end of the world.
    He is a "socialist" from another country, who is trying to kill their Grandma. He is Hitler in ideology, Communist in philosophy and a domestic terrorist. It is Obama who is responsible for the recession and these two insane wars... even Darth Vader Cheney is getting a free pass by the media.

    December 4, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
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