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. caleb

    this will destroy the earth for sure if not stopped... prepare for the worse people. Marshal Law, Fema camps and yuor rights will be gone if this consumes the planet... they have no idea how to stop it...Oh yeah lets NUKE it thats a smart idea right... idiots

    June 17, 2010 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  2. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Republicans in Texas are protesting he payoff to the people in Louisiana along with the moritorium placed on oil drilling because they want their dividends and don't give a darn about what happens to the people of Louisiana. When you've got big oil people in Washington you can't expect different results.

    June 17, 2010 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  3. Diane

    I'd vote for him again. Republicans=party before country, pander to the lowest common denominator.

    June 17, 2010 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  4. Bill, Bloominton IL

    Still it is very funny to read democratic blogs that compare Obama to Bush. According to democrats Bush is the bottom of the barrell so being above him is acceptable. Why bother getting a C when a D+ is better than the last administration.

    June 17, 2010 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  5. peggy

    What is it that these people who disappove of the President want?
    The man is doing his best. Everything the President does, they are these quacks that disapprove of him. These people are such a numb skull, that they fail to realized, that he cannot work miracles.

    These same quacks prayed for his death, and it backfired. The oil spill is what you quacks get.

    Palin, Limburgh, Beck and and all those quacks on Fox news, need to chill and look into they own rotten minds.

    June 17, 2010 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  6. Joyce

    I am disappointed in CNN's handling of this issue. I know they need to maintain their ratings, but it seems like they are striving to generate anti-Obama feelings. I have always been an Anderson Cooper supporter but am quickly changing my mind. Itt is taking BP time to clean up this disaster and nothing new happens every day. Anderson is redirecting his news reporting from the oil spill to putting down Obama. He is no longer "keeping it honest."

    June 17, 2010 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  7. Chuck G

    I am so glad that the Looney right is celebrating another opportunity to bash the President. You can almost feel the sense of euphoria coming from their posts. Too bad our gulf coast will suffer because of the circumstances but any chance to bring this “Socialist Dictator” to his knees is worth the consequences, right?

    June 17, 2010 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  8. Brenda

    This is the American Way. Blame who is in charge for something they had nothing to do with. Whatever. I doubt very much if John McCain could have handled things any different then what our President is doing. You want to blame someone? Blame BP. The President isn't just sitting on his ass the way George W did in regards to Katrina.

    June 17, 2010 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  9. Super Sara

    Obama is doing a great job. Remember that he is not a super-fictional-hero...he is a human being...he is doing the most he can.

    June 17, 2010 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  10. Dave

    His Dissaproval ratings should be rising and not just because of his complete lack of eladership on the Oil Spill, but also because he has not done ONE THING to help the economy, strengthen us abroad, or protect and secure the borders.
    He has failed at absolutely everything except in growing government, forcing a health care bill we can not afford down the people's throats, and gaining more power through regulation and legislation.

    WAKE UP PEOPLE. Make him a lame duck in novemebr so we can end this nightmare. We NEED:
    LESS spending
    LESS government
    LESS taxes

    History shows us over and over and over again that when we do those things, we thrive.

    June 17, 2010 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  11. Chuckster

    STOP THE LEAK, that should be the 1st priority. The US Navy has the DSVs and the Technology to STOP THE LEAK. Get the Navy to do it then send the bill to the British. End of line.

    June 17, 2010 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  12. Marge

    OH boy I can see him now. Ducking into the phone booth and putting on his Superman suit. Zipping off to the oil leak and plugging it.

    You know something. These kind of things show just how stupid most of America is becoming. If BP does not know how to stop the darn well how in the devil do the stupid Americans expect Obama and the government to know how.

    Of course with the republican and tea bag urging they sure hit all the dumb butts into believing he is a Superman.

    June 17, 2010 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  13. matt

    What the hell? What do American's want?

    I want less government.
    but its not doing enough.
    Obama thinks he's the "messiah"
    but why isn't he personally walking on water and plugging the spill.
    We need more off shore drilling.
    but oil covering our shores really sucks.

    the American people are acting like stupid bratty children.

    June 17, 2010 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  14. Sparks Magoo

    For those that keep using the argument "what more can the President do?" I offer you this.

    First, his Oath of Office "I promise to protect and defend the United States against all enemies, both foreign and domestic".

    This oil is our enemy, make no mistake about it. He should be declaring war against this enemy for each passing day does matter! So far we have waited to see if each possible solution might work only to see each of them fail. Be honest with yourself and ask one simple question, what if this relief well solution does not work, what if it is possible that this leaking oil will flow until it runs out (roughly 27 years)? Best case scenario is they stop the oil right now but, there will still be oil in the gulf and surrounding waters for the next what, 20 years?, washing up here, there and damned near everywhere with each passing day and that is if they stop it today ! What if it continues for years as is very possible?

    Fact is people we should be mobilizing to deal with this problem. Ship yards full of workers building thousands of vessels of all sizes and capabilities to clean these waters. Building containment vessels on the shore to store the recovered oil as it is harvested. Putting millions and millions back to work in an effort to fight this war, preparing for what is sure to come.

    For 59 days now oil has been dumping into the Gulf of Mexico and just this oil is a disaster we have yet to even see. Wait, just wait till rivers of oil that are out in the Gulf wash up on the beaches, not these little tarballs. Wait till the stink overpowers people to the extent they have to leave their homes, wait till people are being told there is a mandatory evacuation (for an indefinite period of time) because their community is not safe to live in because of the oil, just wait because all of this is about to happen, like it or not. Not just for small towns but entire regions!

    This is a war people and we are the ones under attack ! Suggesting that there is nothing more the President can do is simply ignorant with even the President himself saying they continue to look for solutions. The problem is we are not addressing the fact that oil is out there now ready to land on us (killing entire regions of the gulf) and we are treating this like a basic oil clean-up, the President not telling us or acting in a way that reflects just how serious this event is. Forget BP they are "Dead men walking" as a company as this event will surely destroy them financially once the big stuff starts coating the shorelines from Corpus Christi to Maine, Maine to the North Atlantic, North Atlantic to the Med, Med to Africa, Africa to the Caribbean and back. I'm certain the Bahamas and Bermuda will want a piece of BP once the oil rides onto their beaches as it passes by on the gulf stream. Wait till a certain hurricane in the gulf this summer blow oil all over towns and cities. BP is over and anyone thinking they will be around to pay the bill of a global disaster is a fool. The shows you see in Washington are just that. This is the largest disaster in the history of man folks (and still going) and no company or any one country has the ability to pay for the cost of this event, not even the good old USA.

    The President of the United States needs to act on this in a way that reflects the serious nature of this event, in a way that tells all of us just how bad this is and how much worse it will get rather than sheltering us from the truth. Truth is we are in grave trouble here and it is time he act accordingly, putting every man woman and child on notice that we are at war with the oil (forget BP) and the time to act is now. It will take time to ramp up so we must start now to save not only our country, but our planet as well. We must not only be warning other countries about the threats but get them declaring war on this oil enemy as well, putting into motion their machines so that they are prepared to deal with the oil once it reaches them! This is a global problem of untold size that is getting worse with each passing minute, and with each passing minute that we treat this as some blip we just allow the oil enemy to hurt us deeper. The oil may not be in Bermuda but it is headed there, sure as the sun will rise, the tides ebb and flow, the worlds currents circulate.

    When you hear somebody say there is nothing more the President can do walk away, just walk away as this person is simply out of touch with the reality of the situation, clearly unaware or uneducated or both. Walk away because this person is more interested in protecting the President than they are in protecting our planet (and us as a result). Demand of your leaders that this is a "war on the oil" and that we must put our war plan in motion, ignoring those who want to treat this as some kind of political event. It is a war with a very real enemy and unless we declare it as such, we will not even begin to take the steps necessary to protect our precious planet.

    Forget BP, forget politics and focus on the problem. You, me and everyone on this planet has a very big stake in this game, our lives and those we share planet earth with. Demand they do what is necessary, demand that we put into motion a global war effort to attack the real problem simply before it is too late!

    The President has so much work to do he has little or no time to sleep.

    Sparks Magoo
    Day 59
    June 17th, 2010

    June 17, 2010 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  15. Aaron

    To everyone who feels its wrong to be blaming the President for a lack of action. The first rule that you should learn when it comes to being in charge of anything is that once you take that position you also need to stepup and have the balls to take responsibility for what does or does not happen period, no whining, no blaming others, just suck it up and move forward to fix the problem. Also I am certain that with the huge academic and engineering resources which the government in many cases helps to fund this problem should have been solved by now.

    June 17, 2010 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  16. Mikey

    I just love how all the Obama haters jump all over everything he does. If he is tough on BP, then he is too hard on them and if I works with BP, he is too accomodating. You Obama haters are so transparent – you even trashed him for telling students to stay in school and study hard.

    While I believe his Administration could do a better job protecting the beaches, it may be the case that there is little that can be done, other than get the leak plugged and clean up the oil after the fact.

    I can't wait to read what you all have to say when OUR President, President Barack Hussein Obama is reelected. (I put his middle name in specifically to annoy the narrow minded)

    June 17, 2010 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  17. GW

    Of course the poll's went down, CNN shows Billy Nungesser everyday complaining about things that are above his pay grade. I understand they are devastated in the gulf, but there are plenty of people throughout this country who are unemployed and wont be receiving any money from BP soon. The scope of this oil spill has increased since the beginning of this ordeal. Everyone wants action but no one knows what to do. The equipment that Nungesser is asking for wont even make a dent in terms of damage control. These same people were in a rush to get dispersants into the water to break up the oil and now we know those dispersants are also harmful to gulf. Sometimes you have to take a step back in order to take a step forward. Promising something is going to get done immediately might have made people feel better but it wasnt true. I respect Obama not selling pipe dreams in terms of what to expect from this mess. Jindal, Nungesser, for all their complaining havent provided any tangible solutions other than vacuums which are doing nothing. CNN unless one of these guys has something new to say please dont give them photo ops for no reason.

    June 17, 2010 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  18. PZ

    In fairness to Obama, shouldn't we wait for him to actually respond before we disapprove of his response? Any day now, I'm sure....

    June 17, 2010 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  19. Mj

    Maybe Rep. Joe Barton can do a better job than President Obama at shaking down BP. I'm sure if he called on "Drill Baby Drill McCain" he'd be more than happy to assist "good old care for the people in the Gulf Joe"

    June 17, 2010 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  20. Ray in Oxfordshire

    I do not understand what Americans want from Mr Obama, his he going to go under tne sea to stop the licks or what ? Come on the government should have checked the safety of the Rig before allowing BP to start drilling......................this would not have happened in the first place, sure not the President fault is high time you got accept it.......................you guys are so lucky to have a good politician to be your President, do not use bad politics to mess it up

    June 17, 2010 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  21. Thomas

    You people want miracles from this man. If the gevernment took control of the cleanup and the operation to stop the leak BP would never pay back what it ows us and we would go the way of Greece within a few months. Obama has done a decent job considering the condition the world was in when he took office. The rate of new unemployment claims has been on a steady decline. The stock market has rebounded even considering a few dramatic self corrections. Consumerism is up and many buisness which were on the verge of bankruptsy are now thriving. Sure the economy still sucks but it is better than it was at the end of '08 and it will continue to get better. As for the oil leak I know McCain couldnt do any better. Obama is not superman and the US government doesnt have the recources to spend on crazy ideas that might not work. BP could do better but they arent going to get any work done if they spend all their time defending their actions. If you have a GOOD idea of how to stop the leak (blowing up the ocean is not a good idea) then email bp with your idea and try to sound smart. "why7 donesnt yous guys put a tampoon in it" is not going to get any attention. The time to criticize and place blame is after the leak is stoped and the real cleanup is underway.

    June 17, 2010 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  22. Objective Thinking

    Jeff in Virginia said: "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."


    My ideas:

    * Accept the foreign aid that is offered
    * Involve FEMA way more (should have done this Day 1) for relief
    * Cancel all vacations until the spill is significantly stopped
    * Decide who is charge of the plan – BP? Fed government? State goverment? etc. (should have done this sooner)
    * Set up a camp for Fed operations in Louisiana, and have a point man (in charge of all Fed activity in this mess) placed there permanently until the spill is significantly stopped. This point man should be in DAILY contact with Tony Hayward, making sure that Hayward's #1 priority each and every day is worrying about that to tell the Fed point man. The point man should expect daily reports on the latest estimates on how much oil is spilling, as well as the progess on the plan to stop the spill.
    * Take the list of ideas submitted from the public to BP (on how to fix the spill) and decide on a plan, and tell BP that they have a deadline to execute that plan, or get out of the way for the Feds to do it. But if the Feds do it, BP has to pay for the costs AND an extra penalty fee for not doing it themselves.

    June 17, 2010 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  23. one voice

    What was He going to do,swim down and plug the whole himself. The GOP talk out of both sides of their mouths, they want the Government to stay out of the private sector(small Government) and now they want (big Government)? Make up your mind FOOLS

    June 17, 2010 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  24. A. Goodwin

    Proud Obama supporter! How hypocritical of you Rethugs to even think that Obama is not doing enough for the Gulf when Bush let people DIE in Katrina!!! Obama is the only president who has tried to get us away from oil, and here we are bashing him? We need to be dependent from oil...we need for this to never happen again...we need BP to pay!!

    Funny – most of you Rethugs would kiss the butt of BP – WHY? They told the American people over and over – including our president that everything was fine and under control and it WAS NOT. And now you bash the president for helping to get out of this mess? You jokers need to stop wasting your time bashing the president and get a clue. Even better – why not get your butts down to the Gulf and help clean this mess up!!

    June 17, 2010 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  25. 50 STATES

    I guess the Republicans are jumping for joy!

    June 17, 2010 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
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