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. JaneCItizen

    And to those bashing welfare recipients (no I don't get welfare so don't even try it) didn't Corporate America get the largest welfare check in histroy? It's called TARP/Troubled Asset Relief Program or the in the nicer, politically correct terms "Stimulus Funding". I understand that the government (more or less) bought equities in these big companies and gave them money to redistribute (through loans and credit which they did not extend) in order to help stabilize the market.

    The truth however is that these companies used greed as a motivation to gamble and give credit to those who didn't deserve it and they took a loss. They got bailed out when they fell on hard times. Wait a minute-isn't that what people do when they fall on hard times...get unemployment compensation when they lose their jobs; food stamps when they cannot afford the escalating food prices and cash assistance to stay afloat?

    December 4, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  2. Anthony R. Seta

    I'm still with the president. I know many progressives that are not happy with the Afghanistan decision, but will vote BHO again in 2012. The alternative is far too frightening.

    December 4, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  3. Democrat in MD (CNN please post. Thank you!)

    Nobody asked me...And I support him & his policies 1000%

    December 4, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  4. G

    His true colors will continue to show; a shameless, hollow, lying fraud. Fooled the majority of foolish Americans into electing him by telling them everything they wanted to hear; now leaves them by the wayside as he continues to push for the special interests of the scummy lobbyists (high profile democrats and trial lawyers) that keep his pockets full.

    Americans will slowly begin to feel the repercussions of his lack of knowledge, substance and insight as he ruins healthcare, something he, and that circus that he has assembled with Sebelius and DeParle, have no business or qualifications to be delving into.

    Applying economic cost-cutting/management principles to the handling of human life is idiotic, and the sign of someone who has never had to care for or be around seriously ill people.

    As bad as you may think the system is now, NO ONE is denied urgent health care, whether they are uninsured, indigent, or even a non-resident of this country; but that's whats in store for the future. HE knows, however, that him and his high profile family will never have to wait 3 months for an urgent MRI when they need it,; but you and I will.

    December 4, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  5. Sniffit

    "How about getting government out of the way."

    You're right. Having government out of the way worked so well with Wall Street, AIG, Morgan Stanley, etc. and the farsical manner in which they leveraged the subprime mortgage securities to create hollographic profits on their operating statements.'re a genius.

    December 4, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  6. Dan, TX

    There is nothing to approve about this President. This is on the job training for him. He has no idea whatsoever to govern and manage the problems which we are facing today.

    December 4, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  7. Dave

    Is this supposed to be surprising? The two party system is a scam and people are waking up to this.

    December 4, 2009 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  8. Nate

    Looks like the white uneducated voters have really put there two cents in here!

    December 4, 2009 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  9. Mitch Dworkin - Dallas, Texas

    This is why Sarah Palin seriously could become President in 2012 basically on a default basis.

    If Obama's policies on Afghanistan, Iraq, health care, the economy, jobs, and any other major issues do not work out as expected, then an ideologue with the exact same mindset of Sarah Palin, Jim DeMint, and Michele Bachmann could become President IF the Republican Party is successful in purging out its moderates!

    This is why it is VERY important that people work hard to make sure that all Palin-endorsed Republican candidates lose in 2010 and 2012. If the GOP ever wins back power with these kind of people in charge of it, then there will be war, more war, and even more war!

    Mitch Dworkin
    Dallas, Texas

    December 4, 2009 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  10. Sgt. USMC

    "The poll indicates that the biggest drop in approval comes from non college educated white voters,"

    Must be that guy who wrote "I'll keep my guns, keep the Change" shoe polished on the back window of his chevy with an NRA sticker next to it here in texas. Or one of the many white Texans I've spoken to who say they would rather vote for hitler than to vote for Obama. After all they are not educated. Oh well. Life goes on.

    December 4, 2009 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  11. Felonious Monk

    terry,va December 4th, 2009 12:52 pm ET
    The 48% approval rating must be from welfare cases.

    Let's hope you never have to go on welfare. Although it would prrobably do you some good to see how the other side lives.

    December 4, 2009 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  12. Len (Colorado)

    To Indiana voter,

    Please go to the Gallup Daily Poll (today 52% of Americans approve of Obama and 58% approve of his decision on Afgan.) He inherited a mess and you all know that is true.
    The Gallup Poll is the one that has a greater cross section of all Americans.

    December 4, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  13. victor0803

    By June 2010 Obama approval rating will jump to 75%

    December 4, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  14. SLP

    It just kills me how liberals scream about how unfair and meaningless polls are when the results don't show President Obama in a favorable light. Just admit that he wasn't right for the job and that you shouldn't have voted for him.

    December 4, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  15. Ethan

    Best President in modern history. Easily.

    December 4, 2009 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  16. crionics

    Well, they keep sugar coating the unemployment number with revisions to the unemployment numbers without any press conferences on the revision. Too many have been laid off for too long. Some have taken jobs with much lower pay to survive. It's survival out here. Hope they can see this inside the Glass House.

    December 4, 2009 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  17. tee

    I still APROVE of President Obama....he is doing a fine job.......inspite of......I was not polled.....Oh thats right, I have a cell do many of his stop jumping on the couch......wingnuts...he will be just fine.

    December 4, 2009 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  18. Steve (the real one)

    Dominican mama 4 Obama, I believe folks needs to be more responsible for themselves in ALL areas of their lives BUT the government promised to help folks buy cars, buy homes, and now to provide healthcare for them. (I don't include Social Security nor Medicaid/medicare because most of us are taxed for those!) Now you want folks to pursue personal responsibility and look for their own jobs? Not fussing at you but just an observation!

    December 4, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  19. TMR

    For all of the people who have so much to say about what the president has done wrong, someone please tell me where there have been more "viable" solutions offered.

    You say cut taxes on small business and big businesses as well;
    – George Bush cut taxes during war time oh about six, seven years ago... How is that working out for your?! Need a job?

    You say he spends to much
    – No real solutions have been offered for resolving health care for a few decades of course its going to cost! It WILL COST MORE TO DO NOTHING! And what is the harm is putting forth a bill to be debated and amended as needed, isn't that what we do in this country to solve problems not sit on our hands
    -Wars cost money and lives you should have been telling Bush to bring our boys home before term two, and you didn't so don't impede this presidents attempt to make the best of an impossible situation

    THE MAN HAS DONE MORE TO TOUCH BASES ON ISSUES IN 9 MONTHS THAN MANY DO IN TWO TERMS DOMESTIC AND FOREIGN! This is great because just like in his campaign people thought he would be down and out over controversy, and then time, common sense, and INTELLIGENCE prevailed!

    December 4, 2009 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  20. fellow from chicago

    Poor Dems; they just lost two state executive mansions and they're expected to lose big time numbers in the House and Senate in 2010, but they're still saying the polls aren't a true reflection of the great job their POTUS is doing. Dems...look out for that iceberg. Its what's underneath the surface that will sink your President...taxes, war, and health care, none of which is wanted or needed by the American voter.

    December 4, 2009 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  21. Eric

    Right Leaning Independent- What's this about rich folks being the most important people in this country. How is it that they run the economy again??

    The truth of the matter is this- The government is the main driver for the economy in this country. Without the government's role we'd be Mexico.

    1. Who's the #1 employer in this country? The government- whether it's federal, state or local the government employs more people than anyone industry in this country.

    2. Who spends the most money? The government does. They spend more on goods and services than any industry.

    3. Welfare and social services- The money that goes to the poorest americans is the baseline for the economy. All that money is spent on food, clothing and other necessities. Welfare dollars create tens of millions of jobs in the private sector. Small businesses and corporations alike benefit from those recieving government handouts. It funds the retirement accounts of the wealthy.

    4. Corporate Welfare. You know all those subsidies that go to big business, the defense contracts that benefit hte military industrial complex- yeah those fund the corporations of the great USA.

    December 4, 2009 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  22. Worst President Ever

    People are finally waking up after having drunk the kool aid. The only friends Obama has are in the media.

    December 4, 2009 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  23. t

    I do not believe in the CNN Polls because I tried several times in different polls to vote and the system would not allow me to vote (during the polling time). I support President Obama!!!!!! He will be President for eight years!!! As for the worst president in history comment- President G. W. Bush, President G.H. Bush, and President Reagan all qualified for this title. President Barack Obama has done more than any modern day president. If anyone thought for a second that one preisdent could fix this Republican-made economy, then they were fooling themselves. President Roosevet nor President Clinton fixed the US economy less than a year. Both received a terrible economy from a Republican.
    I stand with President Barack Obama!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    December 4, 2009 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  24. Jason

    I dont think Obama is doing "that" bad! He may have had a couple bad decisions, but none catasrophic. Unemployment is not great, but it IS improving. People think we can just leave Afghanistan. THATS CRAZY!! After everything weve done to them. Nothing like giving them reasons to hate us (more). And I wouldnt blame them.
    Obamas not great, but he is 1000 times the president Bush was. It just sucks that Bush was given a chance (8 years of em), and Obama can not get one to save his life. Anyways I dont know why im waisting my time, nobody is going to read this unless it has the words John,Kate,or Tiger in it. Prioritize people, troops are dying everyday and you got teevo to record john and kate while watching TMZ dig through someones life. SICK AND PROUD USA #1

    December 4, 2009 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  25. SF Catholic

    I agree with Joanne. Statistics and polls that you read online from mainstream sources (CNN, WSJ, NY Times) are usually in favor of the liberal media that produces them. The media has been controlled by the left for a long time, so I'm guessing these polls are modest to support their agenda.

    December 4, 2009 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
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