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. Ramon

    Only 11 months in office, There still lots of time for a turnaround on the econony, health, and wars. Remenber is been given a hell of a mess to work with.

    December 4, 2009 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  2. t

    Education is key in America!!!

    December 4, 2009 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  3. Mike in NYC

    Let's see
    1. Since taking office the market is over 10,000- how is your 401K?
    2. New Home sales are improving
    3. The rate of job loss is decreasing
    4. Health Care Insurance reform is being seriously considered
    5. Focus has been shifted to Afganistan rather than Iraq where the real terrorist are.
    6. GM, Ford and Chrysler are still in business. How many jobs were saved.
    7. Americas worldwide image and influence is improving

    He's doing a bad job because...?

    December 4, 2009 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  4. Andrew


    they now disapprove of Obama's job because of the economy, but support sending 300,000 more troops (at the cost of 2 million per troop per year.... how many jobs would that buy at home?).

    another well thought out point of view from "white non-college educated americans"

    AKA the same people who voted against their own interests to give us 8 years of Bush.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm very critical of the President. But I like to critique using things like logic.

    December 4, 2009 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  5. Peter s

    Mr. President you are doing a great job! and most American people have your back! keep on creating jobs and the nay sayers will have nothing to say!

    December 4, 2009 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  6. Andrew

    sorry, its more like 1 million per soldier per year. we're still talking a third of what the health care bill costs over a decade being spent in a year, in addition to what we're already spending there in Iraq.

    December 4, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  7. Chicago Mob

    His justification should only be to win and have a positive result. It is easy to see his heart is not in this and one way or another the dems will do all they can so we will fail. Our eunech president is more in to appologizing for America than seeing to it that we succeed.

    December 4, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  8. tee

    Lets let the republicants have their little fun today.......Obama has and will continue to make the repug leadership and their followers look like uneducated think some of their representatives have been around for a long time.....yet the President makes them look like they just started yesterday......makes you wonder.....I never believed the hype.

    December 4, 2009 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  9. Mark

    I read the other day that the Department of Defense is phasing out 15,000 independent contractors next year who will be replaced by.......................union workers

    People are tired of his paybacks to the unions, SEIU gave him 30 million, is that how money it takes to buy the presidency?

    December 4, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  10. klb

    HA HA HA.
    One and done!!!
    2012 can't get here quick enough

    December 4, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  11. Danny

    So people are upset that President Obama had not been able to straighten out the mess left from the last administration in a mere 11 months? No one could fix the mess he inherited so quickly. To sum up the president's challenges when he took office: America was involved in 2 wars which turned a massive surplus into a massive deficit, unemployment was at near record highs due to the longest and most widespread economic downturn since the Great Depression, and the financial markets were collapsing under the weight of bad loans. No person with a shred of common sense could expect all of these problems to be solved in less than a year. As the economy recovers jobs will eventually be created, the financial markets will begin lending again, and the Iraq war will begin to wind down next year thereby reducing deficit spending. All in all things are proceeding at a faster pace than most of us should have expected.

    December 4, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  12. Thomas in Los Angeles

    Americans do not support Presidents who have disdain for their own country.

    December 4, 2009 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  13. Party Purity will never bring Political Power!

    When President Obama reaches the same level of approval as the republican party of 20%, then he should worry.

    Until then, it is all good.

    No prior President has had to clean up the mess President Obama has and on several different fronts, so of course, he will not please all of the people all the time, but as we get more proof that his "porkulus" bill is now bringing home the "bacon", by 2012, he will have the approval of most of the people!

    December 4, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  14. Aviate

    According to Rasmussen, it's 46%, with 40% strongly disapproving.
    – Whoop-dee-doo. Rasmussen, aka the FOX News of polling operations. If he skewed his samples any more to the right, they'd fall over.

    The problem with Obama is that he is not Reagan or Clinton....He's Carter.
    – We'll see about that. In the meantime, I'll bet you conservatives were crushed by the positive employment news that came out today. You've all made it clear you'd rather see this country crash and burn than to lift a finger to fix the mess you all created.

    73% disapprove of government run single payer health care...if anyone cares to know.
    – And 60+% support the public option, which is what's actually being proposed.

    When all the right-wingers here are done shouting "We're goin' to Disneyland!" even though it's effectively the end of the 1st Qtr, they might want to look at the GOP's approval ratings (about 25%) and today's Gallup poll, which has Obama's approval rating at 51% (+2), a number that will probably only get better in days to come. Might want to tone down those victory dances just a bit. On second thought, given most conservatives' willful denial of reality, what's the point?

    December 4, 2009 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  15. Joe

    I am very disappointed in Obama; sending troops is a wrong decision.
    He is not showing leadership; trying to please both sites.

    December 4, 2009 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  16. prairieguy

    Gallop Daily has his approval at 52%...showa one how you should not rely on polls.

    As President Obama said, he campaigned to get the tough things done and not pass on to the next President (as Bushie did) and not just the easy stuff.

    He isn't thinking of a 2nd term in his decisions but rather what is best for America no matter what the political cost may be....

    I support him and I am a registered Republican!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    December 4, 2009 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  17. Bill

    Obama has done exactly what he said he would do on the campaign trail, now these so-call Obama backers are turn coats? That is just like a Democrate and those Independents.
    Republicans are known to not put their tails between their legs and run for cover...even if they have to lie! They stuck it out with Bush and never bash him. But these Dems are pitifil!! Dems can't agree on anything and that is way they will lose the presidency next term.
    Get a back bone Dems and stick together!!!

    December 4, 2009 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  18. gt

    this adminstration is like christmas lightes,,, all they do is hang around , half dont work and the other half arent very bright...

    December 4, 2009 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  19. GI Joe

    I'm a college educated white guy, and I strongly support our new President Barack Hussein Obama.

    He is intelligent, thoughtful, and cares about the little people.

    Don't know which of the group of Obstructionist Republicans is tryin to cause the most trouble, but we're voting THEM out asap.

    December 4, 2009 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  20. political junkie

    Give me a break. This man has been in office for all of 10 months.
    He is supposed to clean up a mess that was 10yrs in the making.
    Where was the public's impatience while all of this was going on
    during those 8 years.

    December 4, 2009 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  21. Vic of New York long as it's the smart 50% who cares!

    This man runs circles around the former Republican administration of "Brain-Dead" and "Psychopath".

    He makes Newt Gingrich look like the quack he is. And he makes virtually every Republican today look like snake-oil salesmen.

    If anyone can get America through the tar-pit Bush-Cheney got us into it's President Obama! Go-bama Go!

    December 4, 2009 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  22. Sunny Soleil

    It does not matter at all. He will be the President for the next three years, approve/disapprove. So Poll away until then!

    December 4, 2009 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  23. NVa Native

    He is a centrist so he own't make the tea-baggers happy (plus he's black) and he won't make the liberals happy.
    And after trying to deal with all the horrible crap dropped in his lap from the nightmare of EIGHT years of Bush/Cheney and republican majorities he should be very happy with 48%.
    Just think what a mess it would be if the McCain/Palin were in office?
    Of course she would have quit by now.
    Only the simple minded Fox followers who claim Obama is the Messiah would think he could turn all this around in 11 months.
    He's on the right path and now is the US is to.

    December 4, 2009 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  24. Jimmy James

    If someone from the left or a democrat would care to list his achievements so far it would be helpful. He passed a ridiculous stimulus that doesn't work. His press secretary keeps saying it does but people in his own cabinet are now finally admitting that the numbers are false. The economy is a mess. Bush is to blame but the biggest collapse also happened under a democratic run congress. Obama's problem is he is ignoring the economy and pushing a social agenda. If he focused on actually accomplishing something for the economy he would have better approval numbers. "It's the economy stupid". Not health care, not the climate. If he doesn't turn it around soon, he won't get re elected.

    December 4, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  25. geecee

    So what are you saying – he needs to worry about this? I don't think so. Things are bad in this Country right now, through no fault ofhis, but who else do people want to blame but the President. He will shoulder the blame, he expects it. Once things turn around, and they will, the poll numbers will go up. The guy hasn't been in office yet for a year – January 20, 2010 will be one year. It took Bush/Cheney 8 years to destroy this country. What do people expect – miracles??

    December 4, 2009 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
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