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. Rod_in_VA

    Sure glad he is popular.................. Everything else is overrated.

    January 12, 2010 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  2. Michael in Houston

    You have got to be joking.
    we might want to consider that the man has been in office one year and took over problems and challenges of historic proportions from a man the country was more then happy to give 8 years to screw it all up.

    We give Bush 8 years to create his filth around the globe and you give Obama one to clean it up?

    And NO ONE on the right has offered ONE SINGLE idea or ONE SINGLE measure or ONE SINGLE hand of support. All THEY offer is this relentless droning of anti Obama garbage and make millions doing nothing more then hating. Oh..and welcome Palin to Fox where she can be yet another pinhead making millions being stupid.

    January 12, 2010 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  3. Hao P.

    "Half say Obama a failure", I say that's a vast understatement.

    The radical left drove him there, it's the radical left's turn. Just wait.

    January 12, 2010 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  4. rita

    So, in essence, nothing is new. The electorate has been perfectly split since 2004 and remains that way – next story please!!!

    January 12, 2010 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  5. Marcus

    Of course he is a "failure." He didn't have his hand on the Bible and people were saying (or hoping) that he would be a "failure."
    (Are you reading this oh brother of mine who would enjoy nothing more than to see our President, as well as the USA fail.)

    At least I gave the prior President three years before declaring him a "failure." (I kept my mouth shut after his first year in office).

    January 12, 2010 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  6. t

    President Obama has a done a wonderful job considering the mess he was handed. People can complain but I know for a fact that many teachers would have lost their jobs if it weren't for the Stimulus. For as CNN polls, I have tried many times to give my vote and the system would not allow me to vote. Others have tired with the same result. He is still above former President Clinton and President Bush during their first year in office. President Bush had a surplus economy when he took office. I support President Barack Obama!!!!

    January 12, 2010 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  7. Lynn

    Who gets asked these questions in a Poll? In my entire 70+ yrs I've never been polled. When I see stories like this one about polls it really galls me. Since nobody asks me, let this be my answer to this question: I think Mr. Obama is doing the best he can with the hand he was dealt and is successfu. There, I've answered a poll

    January 12, 2010 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  8. Rick

    In the summer of 2008 I thought it would take 20 years for the damage caused by Bush-Chaney to be repaired. And that was before the financial crisis surfaced in September 2008. Now, a year into this admninistration, we are already in better shape than 6 months ago. Has President Obama been perfect? Far from it. Has he made all the right decisions? Not even close. But the man is doing the best he can which is 100% better than the previous President. Let's wait another 2 years before we decide wether he's been a success or a failure. My money is on the "success".

    January 12, 2010 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  9. scott

    The president should listen to the polls. People are not happy with his
    liberal tax & spend agenda.

    He has campaigned on "change we can believe in" and given us change that will ruin us....

    January 12, 2010 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  10. JRO

    It just shows the partisan divide over Obama. Whether he actually is successful or not, conservatives would still say he failed just because they don't like him. All they see is government spending, but they don't realize without it they would probably be in far worse shape today than they would be. Nobody can deny now that it has worked to stabilize the economy. If there was no recession to deal with, that money would not have been spent in the first place. So deal with it. His choices were to do nothing or increase spending. Its a no brainer.

    January 12, 2010 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  11. beevee

    Considering the circumstances that president Obama has inherited I think he is doing a fine job. A republican presidnet would have taken the country to the brink of disaster by now. Those who take these kinds of polls sould also ask the responders how he is doing relative to the previousl president. Stop assessing the president with this kind of meaninigless polls

    January 12, 2010 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  12. JS007

    The problem is that Obama has to work with a Congress that is consumed with lobbyist money, corruption and unbelievable partisanship. For example, Lieberman single handedly destroyed the best parts of the health bill and the GOP is simply refusing to do anything that Obama wants to do, even if the country would benefit. Their attitude is akin to treason – letting the country fail just to gain political advantage. Unless the US is able to reform its political system and enable passage of good legislation countries like China will leave us in the dirt.

    January 12, 2010 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  13. MB Seattle

    I think he has made good progress on a very difficult situation. He deserves the support of the America people. He has a reasoned approach towards leadership and he is pragmatic enough not to get caught up in the ideology of a movement like our former president Bush.

    A new start, a new direction and no Dick Cheney what more could you ask for.

    January 12, 2010 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  14. ART

    If thats the case then the Bush and Caney were a 100% failure

    January 12, 2010 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  15. emmett brown

    I think we should send a poll out on who cares about these polls being sent out....

    January 12, 2010 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  16. Scott, Tucson

    I expect obama's poll numbers will be in the single digits this time next year as more and more people are coming off the obama kool-aid.

    January 12, 2010 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  17. Herk

    Or, perhaps the poll is weighted because the people who prepare the poll questions prepare it so it will respond what they want it to respond or they are choosing the people who they send it to because they know how they will answer the questions or perhaps both.

    A poll can show what the preparer wants it to show.

    Questions: Why are all my comments labeled, "Your comment is awaiting moderation?"
    Are they used with that that comment?

    January 12, 2010 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  18. J.Crobuzon

    Compared to Washington or Lincoln, Obama's not doing too well. Compared to George W. Bush or Richard Nixon, he's wildly successful. Do you think we've forgotten Dubya and Cheney?

    January 12, 2010 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  19. Future expat

    Just remember, GOPers, you are mostly old and white. America's future is young and brown.

    January 12, 2010 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  20. Rickster

    Well, let's see:
    Closing Gitmo....failed
    Dealing with terrorists...failed
    Iraq withdrawal...failed
    N. Korea...failed
    Fostering cooperation with Russia & China...failed
    Cash for clunkers...failed
    Olympics bid...failed
    Climate change...failed

    Yeah, I'd say he's been a failure.

    January 12, 2010 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  21. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    It's hard to understand how Obama, and the Democrats as a whole, could so thoroughly misjudge the character of the American people. Did he, and they, really think that a wholesale repudiation of Bush and the neo-cons really meant that Americans would enthusiastically embrace European-style soft-socialism?

    Obama has no one to blame but himself for his continuing slide from hero to bum. His negligible experience in politics seems to have led him into the absurd misapprehension that Chicago could stand as a scale-model of the nation, that the people of the vast spaces between American cities would happily accept domestic policies appropriate, at best, only to those cities.

    Obama has had a year to learn that Chicago is not synonymous with the US, that not all the world's a city. If he has the courage necessary in a President, he'll acknowledge his mistakes, widen the scope of his understanding to encompass not just urban America but all America, and abandon his attempts to treat us all as if we were all regimented into city blocks.

    January 12, 2010 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  22. oldsoldierboy

    So when it comes to his approval rating they're claiming that 99% of the people have either a positive or negative opinion of this president. That doesn't seem possible.

    January 12, 2010 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  23. vin

    you're an idiot and this is ridiculous. I've lost faith in 48% of the people in this poll.

    January 12, 2010 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  24. James Napoli

    President Obama has done a great job in his first year. Dealing skillfully and thoughtfully with very difficult issues. He has the potential of being one of the great American president's of all time.

    January 12, 2010 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  25. Jon

    People are impatient for an economic fix. Understandable. I suppose he could hold a gun to the head of big corporate business and force the hiring of workers. Can't imagine how, because we need to pay CEO's all the big bucks. They are the most important. Ga'bless Citibank and the Bank of America and Goldman S, and the rest of those cathedrals of greed. They will lead us out of the wilderness and into a neverending desert.

    January 12, 2010 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
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