June 17th, 2010
11:58 AM ET
10 years ago

CNN Poll: Rise in disapproval of Obama handling of oil spill

ALT TEXT Workers on a contaminated beach in Grand Isle, Louisiana. (PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images)

Washington (CNN) - Six in ten Americans disapprove of how President Barack Obama's handling the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, a jump from last month, according to a new national poll.

A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey also indicates that vast majority of the public disapproves of how BP has handled the environmental disaster and two-thirds say making a profit rather than cleaning up the spill is oil giant's top priority.

Full results [pdf]

Fifty-nine percent of people questioned say they disapprove of how the president is dealing with the spill, up eight points from May. Forty-one percent say they approve of how Obama's handling the crisis, down five points from last month.

While the president's numbers are dropping, he still fares better than the federal government. Only one in four give the federal government a thumbs up on how it's dealing with the oil spill, with 74 percent saying they disapprove.

The survey is the first national poll conducted entirely after the president's Tuesday night prime time television address on the oil spill to the American people. Obama's speech directly followed his fourth trip to the Gulf Coast since the environmental disaster began on April 20.

"Americans don't like how Obama has handled the situation in the Gulf, but that has not affected his overall approval rating," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Fifty percent say they approve of how he is handling his job as president - essentially unchanged from his overall approval rating for the last three months."

The poll's Thursday release comes as top BP executives testify in front of Congress. At the hearing, Rep. Joe Barton, ranking Republican on the House Energy Committee, defended BP and slammed the White House for insisting that BP place $20 billion in an escrow fund to help compensate those affected by the oil disaster.

"I am ashamed of what happened at the White House yesterday," said Barton at the hearing. "I think it is a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation would be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown. In this case a $20 billion dollar shakedown."

But according to the poll, Americans disagree with Barton. Eighty-two percent approve of the creating of a fund of billions of dollars to compensate workers and businesses affected by the spill.

The survey indicates that two thirds of Americans think the president hasn't been tough enough in dealing with BP, with one in four saying Obama's been about right and five percent saying he's been too tough on the oil corporation.

Only 13 percent of Americans approve of how BP's handling the oil spill, down 11 points from last month, with 87 percent saying they disapprove, up an equal amount from May.

More than nine out of ten say BP's top priority should be cleaning up the spill, but two thirds say it's their best guess that BP's top priority will be protecting the interests of its investors and employees by making sure the company stays in business and makes a profit. Just over one in three say cleaning up the spill is BP's top priority.

Just over half questioned say they trust the federal government more than BP to improve the situation in the Gulf of Mexico, with 32 percent saying they have more faith in BP and 12 percent say they trust neither Washington or the oil corporation.

"Most Republicans say they trust BP more than the government, but only about one in four independents and Democrats agree with that view," Holland says. "That's not to say that Republicans like BP - only 13% of GOP respondents approve of how the oil company is handling the situation in the Gulf and six in ten Republicans think that BP will be more concerned about the bottom line than about cleaning up the Gulf."

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted Wednesday June 16, with 534 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

Filed under: BP • CNN Polls • Energy • Popular Posts • President Obama
soundoff (305 Responses)
  1. Darth Vadik, CA

    Can you imagine Bush getting 20 BILLION from an oil company?

    I cant either

    June 17, 2010 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  2. Jeff in Virginia

    Americans apparently want Superman to fix this problem.

    That wouldn't have anything to do with the irresponsible expectations that the media is setting, would it?

    Every person out there who doesn't like how Obama has handled this, what is your better idea? And please, leave the hollow Fox talking points off the discussion table.

    June 17, 2010 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  3. gt

    this guy is way out of his league,,, obama is all talk and show,,, what a pityful mess were in th eguld .. and all he wants to talk about is carbon and gobal warming .. what up with this guy,,,, ugh,,,help those folks now !!!

    June 17, 2010 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  4. katiec

    CNN, I put as much creditibility in your polls as do the other right wing pollsters.
    We can no longer accept what is told to us in polls as they lean towards whatever belief the pollsters have and, unfortunately, many are run by right wing and produce numbers that are biased.
    And, as you so very obviously support the right, we cannot put trust in your numbers.

    June 17, 2010 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  5. David in Houston

    6 out of 10? Really?

    More trust in a foreign corporation than the government? Really?

    "There's no point for democracy when ignorance is celebrated..." -nofx

    June 17, 2010 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  6. Linda from Minnesota

    I guess people expected him to put on a superman suit, swim down to the leak and stop it by himself. Geez, people, this guy was handed multiple issues the day he took office, give him a break.

    June 17, 2010 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  7. silencer

    Wow amazing. Republican would cry fowl over Bp destroying the gulf. Its amazing what money does to people or in this matter to a group (GOP)

    June 17, 2010 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  8. elaineb

    This is getting ridiculous! The man gets BP to shell out $20 billion on a downpayment and suspend their dividends for the year when they could have lawyered up and stuck to the $75 million. But people are disapproving because he is not angry enough? I agree a bit more emotion would be nice, but I'd guess that behind those closed oval office doors, he was cold as ice and BP knew better than to mess with him.
    One fabulous thing in the speech that was largely overlooked was his comment on restoring the marsh islands in the Mississippi delta (and getting BP to pay for it). This is long overdue and a major change from past administrations who simply ignored the eroding coastline.

    June 17, 2010 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  9. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    I don't care about polls when it comes to this disaster. I like the President to have his thoughts and a gameplan together before he haphazardly attacks a problem. Not to mention, he didn't cause the explosion. BP did!!! I think you should be polling Americans about how pissed off we are at BP.

    June 17, 2010 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  10. elaineb

    I want to add that Rep. Joe Barton can kiss his future in politics goodbye after calling what Obama did to BP a shakedown. It makes me thankful that oilman Bush was not in office when this happened. What a joke that party is!

    June 17, 2010 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  11. Oregon Calling

    Ok, and if he wasn't paying attention to the oil spill, they would say that he is not doing enough for the economy as noted my our paper today.

    Give it a rest, I am sure that he is doing things that the rest of us are not aware of. I support our President and I wish that the MSM would do something with these polls only it is not fit to write 🙂


    June 17, 2010 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  12. Lynda/Minnesota

    In other words, American's want the hole plugged.

    June 17, 2010 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  13. gg

    what do they want him to do bomb bp out of the gulf

    June 17, 2010 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  14. glib lib

    Anyone care to ask these people what they would do differently?

    June 17, 2010 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  15. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Polls are nice.

    I'm flying high and just don't care!

    Jump on it GOPers. You've got a couple of good words in there to play with! I'm feeling $20BILLION GENEROUS TODAY!!!!

    June 17, 2010 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  16. Lionhart

    It seems like there is a poll for everything. Who cares.

    June 17, 2010 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  17. John W

    $20 billion is a drop in the bucket compared to the devastation in the Gulf of Mexico – there should be no limit on BP's liability. The cost of clean up plus lost income for businesses and individuals – which will be affected for years to come. Some will never recover and be where they were when this started. BP has the resources to make this right and should. BP should give their dividend money to people that no longer have an income.

    June 17, 2010 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  18. sonny chapman

    Joe Barton is hollering that Obama "shook down" BP. When BP's minions holler, that ought to tell you he's pinching them pretty hard. WHAT ELSE DO YOU WANT! Americans need to start acting like grownups instead of like 5th Graders.

    June 17, 2010 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  19. Victim of GOP Taliban

    Well then if all you Republicans trust British Petroleum more than our own government, then don't complain. Because the response, lies, misinformation, media censorship and stopping the leak itself has all been the responsibility of BP. Drill Baby Drill with no government oversight, studies or regulation – this is your baby.

    June 17, 2010 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  20. hobart

    I'm not sure what the President is supposed to do. Neither the oil industry nor the government can act any faster in shutting down this leak, or in cleaning up the mess. The Gulf of Mexico as an ecosystem will not recover in our lifetimes, and may never recover. All of which should make us ask ourselves, just how much risk are we willing to take in our pursuit of oil.

    Then you have the heartless bastard Republicans, especially Paul, Bachmann and Limbaugh, who think BP should bear no responsibility, and that big business should not only never be regulated at all, but should not ever be held accountable for anything. Republican policies created this mess, from their letting the oil companies write their own regulations to appointing oil company hacks to the MMS. Hopefully, Republican disapproval ratings will reach record highs.

    June 17, 2010 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  21. Johnny DC

    Obama's primetime address was exactly what we've become accustomed to from him. A whole lot of fluff and rhetoric, and a whole absence of any real achievable goals or leadership. Empty promises, just like from the campaign. The steadfast Dems who always stand by him still poll his way, but the Independents who got him elected have had enough.

    As for the BP executive poll - of course they care more about profits. That's their only job. Obama's job is to do what's best for us. At least one of them is living up to their responsibilities.

    June 17, 2010 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  22. Dave

    Huge thumbs down. 58 days before meeting with BP. Stupidity. But, of course, the man is the puppet. The bankers and corporate bosses pull the strings. And in case it has been buried by MSM; he will enrich himself with his Vanguard portfolio that has links to BP. Try $8.5 million a year on for size.

    June 17, 2010 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  23. Mance Lotter

    Look, no one disapproves of Obama's policies in general (and therefore I disapprove of him), but his getting slammed for his "response" on the oil spill is ridiculous and shows the new American mentality (for which I blame liberals).

    That new mentality is "the gov't fixes everything and fixes it quickly. The gov't underwrites our failures and cures us when we are offended."

    Oddly enough, Obama has helped create this America (one dependent on the gov't for most things) which is exactly why he is getting politically beat to death these days.

    June 17, 2010 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  24. Mance Lotter

    Woops – in my last post, I meant to say, "no one disapproves of Obama's policies in general MORE THAN I"

    June 17, 2010 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  25. Seth in Jacksonville

    What else can he do? what are people expecting him to do?

    June 17, 2010 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
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