January 12th, 2010
01:32 PM ET
12 years ago

CNN Poll: Americans split on success of Obama presidency

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/01/07/art.obama01062.gi.jpg caption="Americans are giving Barack Obama a split decision on his first year in office, according to a new national poll."]Washington (CNN) - Americans are giving Barack Obama a split decision on his first year in office, according to a new national poll.

Forty-eight percent of people questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Tuesday say Obama's presidency has been a failure so far, with 47 percent saying Obama has been a success. The poll's January 12 release comes just 8 days before Obama marks one year in the White House.

Full results (PDF)

The survey indicates that Obama's approval rating as president stands at 51 percent, down 3 points from last month, with 48 percent disapproving, up 4 points from December.

"On the plus side for Obama, he remains personally popular and he gets decent ratings on foreign policy and national security issues. That may explain why his overall approval rating is a little higher than the number who say Obama's first year has been a success," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Unfortunately for Obama, domestic issues - led by the economy - are far more important to the public than foreign policy issues, and a majority disapprove of how he is handling every single economic and domestic issue tested."

According to the survey, the economy by far remains issue No. 1 with Americans, with 47 percent saying it is the most important issue facing the country today - up 7 points from last month. Health care, at 15 percent, is the second most important issue with the public, followed by the deficit at 11 percent. Terrorism is tied with the deficit, and up 7 points from last month, most likely do to widespread coverage of the attempted terrorist bombing of a U.S. airliner on Christmas Day.

The dominance of domestic issues in importance is most likely a contributing factor to the slight dip in Obama's overall approval rating.

"Only 44 percent approve of how Obama is handling the economy; just 4 in 10 give him a thumbs-up on health care and his approval rating on the federal deficit has plunged to 36 percent. Those are three of the four most important issues on the public's mind today," says Holland. "The president's ratings also suffer from the growing perception that he is too liberal - 46 percent feel that way today, up 10 points from March.

The poll also indicates that 1 in 10 say that Obama has not been liberal enough. But while the public takes issue with Obama on the issues, two-thirds continue to believe that he has the leadership skills and personal characteristics that a president should have, and that may explain why his overall approval is so much higher than his rating on the issues of greatest concern to the public.

The president can also take heart in the fact that his 51 percent approval rating is nearly twice as high as the approval rating for Congress. As the House of Representatives comes back into session Tuesday, only 27 percent of Americans have a favorable view of Congress.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted Friday through Sunday, with 1,021 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

- CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report

Filed under: CNN poll • Popular Posts • President Obama
soundoff (298 Responses)
  1. cullenpest

    You want higher rating Barack? PROTECT US! If you ignore our enemies they won't go away, and a speech won't make them love us. Get your act together and quit trying to tax the hell out of the few people who have jobs still.

    January 12, 2010 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  2. Chris

    Ok, well President Obama's presidency has not been a failure, many would look at the issues and incidents that have occurred thus far into his term, but that was not his responsibility, it was the F.B.I., Homeland Security, Etc. who were responsible and did not act accordingly, Obama's job has been and will be to reunite the nation, bring ideas and beliefs together, and help pass laws that will hopefully make our country a more beneficial one for our youth, when they are at age to understand. So far he has pushed for a health care plan that is actually rolling now, and shows slight signs of slowing, but he continues to work on that frontier and im sure there are other acts that will need tending to.

    January 12, 2010 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  3. Kevin


    I didn't realize that it would only take 1 year in office to solve all of America's problems! Uh, Nooooooooooooooo. If it took 8 years to put us in this fiasco, then why would it take 1 year to fix it? We as a society want a microwave solution to an oven baked problem. But we are also hypocrites in the same breath.

    Democrats ragged on Bush his first year in office, and republicans said, "give him a chance." Now, Dems are doing the same thing and Republicans are lashing at Obama. Ridiculous. I voted for Obama, I support Obama, and I have the common sense enough to know not to listen to opinionated programs like Hannity, Limbaugh, Beck, Schultz, Press, and Maddow to get my opinion. It's called research for yourself. Please America, stop being so weak-minded and think for yourself and stop letting crooked politicians and media puppets think for you.

    January 12, 2010 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  4. JonDie

    In spite of the still horrific state of our economy, the first year of Obama has been paradise...compared to the eight years of Bush.

    January 12, 2010 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  5. RAY IN NJ

    When Obama was elected I wrote that he will face what every black successful person faces in a prolific position (seen more in corporations) , i.e., he must do twice as much to get half the credit! What do people REALLY expect Obama or ANY person to do in ONE YEAR when they inherited a country on the brink of depression? Of course, much of the country must be looking at what HASN'T happened yet versus what we've been spared as a country!

    January 12, 2010 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  6. Back to the Drawing Board

    Holy smokes – this guy is tanking!!!! All those who wish they'd have gone will Hillary please stand up! At least we knew what we would have gotten with her, Bill and all!

    January 12, 2010 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  7. Mike

    I guess the 'I inherited this mess' excuse is wearing a bit thin.

    January 12, 2010 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  8. Disappointed but not giving up

    From the poll results looks like the president easily could go from 50 to 60% approval by simply keeping his promises to the liberals who elected him - promoting gay rights, supporting workers right to organize, regrouping on the public option (maybe after 2012). There's no hope of placating the right, and even if you did you'd only p-o the left even more than you already have, so it wouldn't change the approval numbers. GOPers already think the president is a far-leftie, so he's got nothing to lose by actually acting like one for a change.

    January 12, 2010 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  9. Raj A

    I am ashamed to say that I voted for Obama. I did NOT vote for watered down healthcare, government funding for elective abortions, trillion dollar deficits, and kowtowing towards dictatorships around the world. If this is hope, we are doomed. I will vote for the GOP in 2010 and 2012.

    January 12, 2010 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  10. Carla

    Anyone who would view Obama's presidency as a success has a very poor understanding of the definition of "success". Record unemployment, record weak dollar, record number of broken campaign proimises and record number of lobbyist serving on the public dole. Absolutely the opposite of success.

    January 12, 2010 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  11. Zoomie63

    America is purely stupid thinking there was going to be a quick fix. I think President Obama is doing quite well considering everything against him. No president in the history of this nation has been under constant attack as President Obama has. Conservative talk shows deliver a constant barrage of hate toward President Obama. A constant stream of email lies and misinformation is directed at him. Republican Joe Wilson calls President Obama liar during a joint session of congress. Town hall meetings, Tea Parties… they are doing a better job of destroying our nation than the communists ever did.

    January 12, 2010 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  12. Levin

    I have yet to hear what, if anything, the Republicans would do differently. No bailouts? That would've spelled (an even worse) disaster for the financial and automotive markets. A fullblown surge in Afghanistan? Our military is already stretched to the breaking point and the ultimate goal murky, since Al Queda is by now so widely dispersed.
    Obama has been dealt one of the worst hands possible. If this were poker, a good player would've "known when to fold 'em". Of course that's not an option and he'll just have to make the best moves that he can until things turn around.

    January 12, 2010 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  13. Jackie in Atlanta

    How can you be a success it at every turn there's a roadblock put in your way, the rug is being pulled out from under you, an agenda is established set to stop ANYTHING that you try to enforce/put into place! I am so disappointed with those politicians AND their constituents that, just because 'their side' didn't win, you're not going to try and work along with the ones that did! Yes, I voted for him and will do so again. I didn't vote for him because he was African American - which I am. I listened to what every candidate had to say during the election. What moved me the most was the way he stayed focused, very knowledgeable about domestic and foreign policy, concerned about what was and is happening in American, put together a plan to help the American people and the nation, listened to what everyone had to say, stood flat footed, and kept to his agenda. There was no name calling or encouraging/creating hateful fringe groups. Just awful!!! I'll admit that I was torn between President Obama and Secretary Clinton, but after South Carolina I began to focus more on President Obama. We've lived through MANY years of politicians that were self-serving, party-only serving, and one-community-only serving. How about if we go ahead and let this man - who has REALLY TRIED to serve the PEOPLE of the United States - do the job he was elected to do. President Obama is not a failure in my book - y'all haven't given him a chance to do his job!

    January 12, 2010 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  14. Frank, Las Vegas

    Considering the GOP being nothing but the party of NO, I believe the President has done an excellent job, although I would have wanted a public option in th health care bill. Going up against the constant lies from the GOP on every subject President has made great progress. Progress the American people voted for. It seems that the GOP doesn't understand yet that they are the minority and therefore things aren't going to go their way very often. I believe that the GOP will be even a smaller minority after the mid term elections.

    January 12, 2010 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  15. Half say his a failure

    What an objective journalistic commentary from CNN!!!
    Your polls are nothing but phony propaganda .Why emphasizing on the negative aspect of things always???. It is like you need to constantly put oil on the fire.CNN is a biased media source i m sorry to say.Europeans are laughing at what you call journalism here.It is true that in the light of others tv news network you look ok but i am so done with you.You had better to teach Americans who are so uneducated on the sense of the word socialist;What the real truth is:
    If china which is the worst COMMUNIST country in the world tells America to bow down tomorrow you have no choice but to do it. Quit whining about Barack; he may not be the best yet but he is certainly representative of an intelligent America..not like his predecessor.

    January 12, 2010 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  16. LacrosseMom(stuck in moderation)

    Our nation is sadly polarized by the constant vile campaign against President Obama by the far-right. This is nothing new.

    Still, a majority of Americans are supporting President Obama. Plus, there are many supporters of President Obama who are never polled because, we live in red states, we are registered Independent & we have no "landline".

    Presiden Obama inherited the largest deficit in U.S. history, the deepest Recession since the Great Depression (although in 1983, we had ...10% unemployment also) and two wars. Our nation has been in a recession since 2007, we are now just beginning to see some signs of recovery. We, Americans, need to be patient, the economy is not fast food!

    January 12, 2010 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  17. Lotta Muni

    The SNL sketch from last Fall pretty much summed it up.
    "O"bama; "O" = zero

    January 12, 2010 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  18. Robert Gleason

    I’m very disappointed in Obama’s first year! I proudly voted for Obama believing he would make the changes this country needed to move forward in the 21st century. A year later I’m scratching my head wondering what he has done besides keeping hid popularity above the 50% mark. He wasted a valuable year where he had the most power having the majority in the house and senate. It seems to me that he is more concerned about his approval rating that he has forgotten why he was elected. Franklin D. Roosevelt was in the same political climate as Obama and embarked on things that where not so popular, but did it for the greater of the country. I just wish Obama acted on his promises while he had the chance and not worry so much about his next term. Unfortunately I don’t see any change coming with this president and being a Democrat I give him two thumbs down.

    January 12, 2010 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  19. S M R

    How can a poll like this ever be a true poll if 25% would say it's a total disaster when they hate Obama because he's black (policies aside) or (the rich and their lemmings) say his policies stink because Obama wants the rich to FINALLY pay their fare share? The TRUE answer will be shown on election day.

    January 12, 2010 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  20. Derrick

    Are you kidding me?! The man has only been in office 1 year and we are already deciding how successful he will be?!

    Give the man a fair chance, just like we GAVE Bush 8 yrs of a fair chance.

    I do know that Obama has accomplished more in his 1 year of service compared to Bush's 8 LONG TREACHEROUS years.

    January 12, 2010 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  21. j

    I had hoped he'd be a stronger leader but I'd still take him over McCain/Palin.

    January 12, 2010 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  22. Wmscot

    One year into his term to clean to eight plus years of horrible leadership and a do nothing congress and he is getting beat up by who ? What the hell do you people want ? He did not start a unwarrented war, he did not take this country down the greedy path of the privious administration and sure as hell did not pander to the religous right for votes. Get a grip and give this guy the time to do the job. If you want to be angry be angry and the idiots that you put in congress and give them a boot !

    January 12, 2010 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  23. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Everyone is entitled to their opinion, here's mine: it's too early to judge the implementation of his policies even though some are bearing fruit. More importantly he's shown admirable restraint and class, dogged determination, and an indefatigable spirit and work-ethic as a public servant hellbent on restoring the lustre of this great nation and caring for ALL it's citizens.

    Obama 2012!!

    January 12, 2010 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  24. michael armstrong sr. TX.

    The president is coming up on his second year this year is the year of redemption the learning year is over theres no room for mistakes now either he has the right stuff or he dosnt Mr. President schools out forever.

    January 12, 2010 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  25. Cindy

    Those 47% who say success – where, what, how, when? Really where is the success.

    January 12, 2010 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
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