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. The Weatherman

    All hail Barrack Obama, the second coming of Harry Truman!

    Just remember, JFK and Clinton got the job done under a more adversarial environment with the Republicans controlling Congress.

    At some point his fanclub will be forced to pay their rent and buy food with Obama's promises and excuses – good luck with that gig.

    Wsup w/ Rev Al & Rev Jessie praising Reid's racism? Is there a gravy train hidden somewhere the rest of us can't see?

    The Weatherman

    January 12, 2010 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  2. S.B.

    I'm surprised his ratings are that high considering that the press is about 90% negative in their reporting of his policies and actions. They seem to devote most of their reporting to the very negative comments of various Republicans. The Republicans know this, and it must be very encouraging for them. I don't know if it's just because the press likes to dwell on negative stuff or whether they really dislike him that much. I'm talking about the legitimate press, not Fox News which I don't even consider to be a news channel. I no longer even watch the news on television and get my information from my newspaper which is notorious for being pro-Republican or from the internet. That way I can omit all the sensational stuff. But I think even on the internet they sensationalize small rather trivial news way too much. An example is the Harry Reid comments. For gosh sakes, they happened in 2008!
    Why are they suddenly such important news except that a bunch of Republicans are using it to their advantage to get free publicity?
    I also dislike that the press does very little fact checking before they publish comments. In fact it sometimes seems like the bigger the lies, the more apt they are to be reported.

    January 12, 2010 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  3. Ferret out the BS

    In this day and age of instant gratification, T.V. , and radio detailing everything in real time its amazing that any leader gets anything done to anyone's satisfaction. Just becoming president doesn't mean that issues will be resolved instantly. People expect too much too soon and are disappointed when when issues, such as the economy don't change overnight.

    January 12, 2010 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  4. PR

    When are all the deadenders going to take off those stupid bumberstickers? We get it, you won, we lost. Glad he got rid of business as usual politics. What a great uniter.

    January 12, 2010 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  5. ICARE

    There are many challenges that he has to wade through or crawl through, but if he just keeps thinking about the future, HE'LL KNOW EXACTLY WHAT HE NEEDS TO DO and that is LEAD US INTO THE FUTURE.

    So far, 800 billion should have been thrown at GREEN ENERGY. I mean, imagine, there will be more people and 7 billion people will need to learn how to be effectively and efficiently use Mother Nature. It's the future and it will creaet jobs.

    I'm glad Bill Clinton shoved the age of the internet to consumers and didnt hold it back. It created millions more new jobs and wealth to America.

    God Bless AMerica!!! May he think of the future and not walk the past.....

    January 12, 2010 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  6. john

    duh...i guess those are the republicans, the KKK and Rush Limbaiugh.

    January 12, 2010 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  7. tanner

    Count me as one of the votes for, "HE IS A FAILURE."

    January 12, 2010 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  8. Robert

    Why is it always presented as an either/or. He has had both successes and failures. It will take the completion of his presidency and hindsight for an accurate judgement.

    January 12, 2010 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  9. RJinchi

    I have to say that with the Roadblock Republicans standing in the way of any progress of this great Nation, I can see why some see why PRESIDENT OBAMA is having a few diffuculties.

    January 12, 2010 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  10. laurie

    Half the country is brain dead, don't believe in evolution and chose to home school their kids. They voted for Bush TWICE. Why is anyone asking them anything?

    January 12, 2010 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  11. kk

    I think he has done fairly well considering the mess that he has to clean up.

    January 12, 2010 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  12. Sam

    It's funny to think that people don't approve of him on health care because some think he's gone way overboard and some think that he hasn't done enough. So the 6 out of 10 who don't like him based on health care aren't all on one side. So really the numbers are a little skewed.

    January 12, 2010 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  13. J. Uram

    I am baffled. Unless you are directly involved in the process of reviewing the available information and making the decisions, how can you participate in a poll that measures efectiveness. This type of polling question makes me question the effectivness of the poll much more than the effectiveness of the President.

    January 12, 2010 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  14. Tom L

    The fact that the Massachusetts race is so close should tell Democrats everything they need to know about how people really feel with regards to their leadership so far.

    January 12, 2010 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  15. JohnLeeHooker

    You gotta love the spin: he can take comfort that his approval is twice that of CONgress. That's a joke, right?

    January 12, 2010 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  16. Jean McLain

    I think that President Obama has done an outstanding job during his first year as President under difficult circumstances. He has brought calmness and intelligence into play. Contrast this with the hysterical behavior of the Republicans especially the far Right. The news media sensationalizes eveything and spends most of its time gossiping or screaming at one another. Truth is not found in loud voices but instead in thoughtful consideration. Jean McLain

    January 12, 2010 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |

    And just how do people come up with these numbers? do they expect every thing to be rosy after 8 years of bush and company destroying america. people it will take way more than a year to get this mess straightened out especally with the republicans wanting the democrats to lose. they are against anything that helps the economy or the american people.

    January 12, 2010 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  18. David

    It took Bush 8 years to completely screw up the country, Obama hasn't even been in for 3, come on give him 8 years and i'm sure he's screw it up just as bad.

    I wouldnt worry if i was Obama though, will the republican party divided and considered backward, moronic, and pretty much still hated by america in general (or at least any american with an IQ over 75) he'll get his second term,no problem

    January 12, 2010 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  19. Four and The Door

    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.
    Interesting that he can be distinguished out of the Pelosi-Reid-Obama team. The Far Left wants; Obama asks; Pelosi & Reid make and then Obama signs. That's the drill. They are a team, like the 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers ( 0-14 ).

    January 12, 2010 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  20. Liz

    Obama ran on trying to achieve bipartisanship and trying to get things done for the American People. The republican'ts have worked day and night to stop him from accomplishing what we the people elected him to do. In the face of such intractible, mindless opposition, i think he's doing a great job. We don't need fewer Democrats in 2010, we need a lot more! Then we'll see what real leadership is like. The party of NO has got to GO! They don't give a rodent's derriere about this country or its people, only the corporations and CEOs. Wake up, America, and throw the fascists out!

    January 12, 2010 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  21. AXH

    He's a loser, running this country into the poor house...

    January 12, 2010 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  22. cecilia Lewis

    well there ya go – the tea baggers speak – now if they just had something to say

    January 12, 2010 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  23. kev49426

    What a joke...So much possibility...He could have been THE President that brought the moderates from left AND right and been the best ever...but, in the end, a liar worse than many others and a true Socialist. We didn't sign up for this. He is a threat to our country and our Constitution. He's making Bush look like a genius if that is possible...

    January 12, 2010 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  24. Jay

    Where's the poll breakdown? What is the methodology? Are you not showing us because you polled democrats heavy (as usual)? We want answers, or your poll is not trustworthy.

    January 12, 2010 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  25. ej

    Too bad the people giving President Obama a thumbs down do not consider that most of the work he's been doing is cleaning up after the pervious two administrations. He's got his hands full!.

    January 12, 2010 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
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