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. nola

    I am sure the people of this country think that the President is "Might Mouse", and that he can put on his suit and cape and go do and stop the leak. Since each of you realise that he not "Might Mouse", why don't you Know it all grab you cape and fly on down and Fix it. If you can do a better job I suggest you get down their a stick your figure in that leak.

    June 17, 2010 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  2. phoenix86

    The left celebrates extortion by the White House, priceless.

    June 17, 2010 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  3. Todd

    What exactly should the govt do differently? The technology isn't more advanced because neither the oil companies nor the American tax payers want to invest the capital to develop it. Unless everyone wants to pay higher taxes, there's not anything more to bo done. In the case of Katrina, resources weren't utilized. With the spill, the booms don't work and skimmers are only so useful. If there were technologies available and unused it would be different.

    June 17, 2010 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  4. Ron Hutton. Md.

    President Obama is not Superman. Every person and news organiztion who criticizes his approach should counter that criticism with a sugesstion of thrir own. Bush and Chaney did quite well with their relationship with Big Oil. Why has't anyone asked them for a soluttion? Why is it that they have not been in Blitzer's Situation Room, why are thy not being "kept honest"? Kudos to Sanchrez...they did make The List. However, more should have been made of it. Oh, I forgot, that would have taken up space and tme from Rick's bosses to Obamabait.

    June 17, 2010 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  5. one voice

    The paid oil company blogger shills (GOP) are out in full force again today, do you think we're stupid?

    June 17, 2010 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  6. Ann Marie

    No reasonable person expects the President to be Superman, however, they do expect him to be engaged and competent. The President spent the day of the memorial for those killed on the rig swaying with Paul McCartney. Certainly he could have sent Biden in his stead to meet with Sir Paul – after all, it was good enough for the Tomb of the Unknown Solider. The President was/is unaware whether the head of the MMS was fired, resigned or ran away to join the circus. He has yet to suspend the Jones Act – something President Bush did within days of Katrina. From day one Governor Jindal has been begging for boom and other supplies. He finally had to bypass the federal government in order to get something done. All of this indicates that the President and his administration are not engaged and certainly are not competent.

    June 17, 2010 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  7. michael

    when people cant put an original thought together all they do is string negative sounding adjectives together (radical liberal progressive) although liberal and progressive are not bad. pathetic right wingers.

    June 17, 2010 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  8. Morgan

    The Obama supporters blamed bush for not reacting quick enough to Katrina and now they are getting a taste of their own medicine. Bush didn't cause the hurricane to destroy New Orleans and Obama didn't bust the oil pipe. Obama should have gotten on a helicopter and been there after day 1 like he campaigned about all year long. Everyone thinks he is so smart and so slick. Its not what he says; its how he says it. I'm sick of hearing that he will make a committee for this or for that.

    June 17, 2010 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  9. R Curtis

    For those of you questioning what more Obama could have done, here goes. (1) There has been an emergency plan in place for over 20 years, but was not activated by the White House; (2) The Netherlands, along with other countries, offered assistance with the cleanup, but was turned down by the White House, because of a regulation regarding foreign ships in U.S. waters. That regulation was suspended by Bush during Katrina; Obama could have done the same; (3) never acted upon Governor Jindal's request for berms, etc. That's what he could have done, period.

    June 17, 2010 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  10. Marquess

    I dont care what happens to the gulf as long as Obama is gonna keep my check comin in da mail so i can feed my babies. 4 mo years. i got 9 kids to feed and dont have time to get a job.

    June 17, 2010 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  11. rar

    In situations like this we all want someone to blame when we see pictures of the oil continue to gush and our coastline destroyed. For many, their emotions are directed at President Obama. Normally national crisis bring the country together but that doesn't seem to be happening. People who disliked the President before the spill find any fault they can with what he is doing to alleviate the problem. They are not interested about coming together as a country to fix this. If you listen to his speech he told us stopping the leak is his #1 priority. Those were his words so how can people claim his speech was only about pushing his energy agenda? It wasn't. Many people only see events through their filters of "socialism", "left", "liberal conspiracy", "
    "govt take over". Every word and action of Obama's is criticized. His success in not seen as our success. Obama is a "liar", a "Muslim", and our government is a "gangster" govt"! Currently President Obama is our President-democratically elected. I could care less about the next election. I support his efforts to fix this huge problem realizing I won't always agree with him but I'm not going to use this tradegy to advance some policital agenda.

    June 17, 2010 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  12. Matt

    The day the rig blew up, several foreign leaders that had ships in the area volunteered to HELP. Obama turned them away. Over 8 days passed before he even decided that it was a real problem.

    I never expected Obama to go plug the hole, but he was supposed to lead. Now we are 2 months out and all I hear from the man are threats, blame and 'patting his own back'.

    Obama is no Superman. In fact, he's not even as good as a Carter.

    June 17, 2010 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  13. ajax

    He did afterall eat a snow cone and got his picture taken with a local resident.Not a bad response with someone of his background.!!!

    June 17, 2010 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  14. Nyak Gala

    In all fairness, it is an oil spill that is the problem of a oil company. The only play the government has in this, is that they do not have enough laws intercepting these companies that are basically corrupt. If a company such as BP makes a mistake, it is not the responsiblity of the President to now come and clean up their mess. BP is a huge company around the world. The Americans are being so unfair to this President. It was not a natural disaster that could not have been prevented, this is an accident which means it could have been prevented. So now I have this one thing to say. Blame it on BP, it is not the fault of Obama. He is simply just doing his part by enforcing the laws that govern such companies so that similar mistakes or leaks never happen again.

    June 17, 2010 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  15. Gotta Luv It

    Anyone wanna bet that Obama will be taking his normal summer vacation in Martha's Vinyard (or whatever elitist destination he'll pick this year), instead of locking down in a war room, and dealing with this catastrophe like the real Commander in Chief?

    ...He just doesn't get it...

    It all on him now! He's in charge!

    June 17, 2010 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  16. T

    Some of you are fools......I’ve have never heard and seen so much disrespect for one President….some of you shame on you. And the real reason is ??????
    Go get a job because you got to much time on your hand….this is evil . Defeat this evil in your heart…..Jesus never compromised with evil and neither should you.

    June 17, 2010 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  17. Chipster

    These responses and the polls reveal what I notice immediately after the flood of oil began to pour out of the well. People weren't paying a bit of attention to what the Administration was doing. They just repeat what they hear. They didn't begin to pay attention until they saw oil-covered birds and tarballs on beaches. They were late to the game so they want to blame the Administration but the Administration was on the scene from day one.

    I give the American people a big zero for being addicted to oil and refusing to take responsibility for our part in this disaster!

    June 17, 2010 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  18. Baby girl

    Why are you people waisting time asking BP questions ..
    Just fix what need fixing.. President Obamo has handle this
    very well..

    June 17, 2010 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  19. Matt

    Note: Bush did better with Katrina than Obama is doing with the oil spill. After the incompetence of the local leaders was apparent, the federal government got involved on day 2.

    Obama didn't even do anything to help the recent flood victims in the midwest–an area much bigger than that New Orleans.

    June 17, 2010 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  20. nick

    What do these ninnies think he should do? Nuke the U.K.? Sieze all their assets? Send in the U. S. Ranger have them kidnapped the shot down at the next Tea Party ralley? Or, like Bush and Cheney, call a code red alert and fly around making senseless threats? Get real ding dongs... there is only so uch a civilized law abiding nation can do and Mr. Obama is doing it.

    June 17, 2010 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  21. Jeffrey

    The American people have far too high expectations of anyone sitting in the Oval Office. We, and I speak loosely in general terms, want someone who not thinks they are God, but actually is God. What have those 60% of people who disapprove done to contribute to the clean-up of this disaster or what have they done to minimize their petro consumption? Probably not even .0001% of them. They are still driving their huge SUVs and other gas guzzlers and contributing to the increasing dependence we have on the dirty oil that is floating around the waters of the Gulf today. None of these folks want to look in the mirror and ask themselves what role they have played in this mess. They only want to point fingers and demonize someone else. They are the same folks that want a smaller government. So, do you want a big government with an answer for everything, including how to clean up an oil spill clean-up in a few days or a government that specializes in plugging oil wells within hours or days of a spill? That costs money (higher taxes). Yeah, I didn't think so. So why don't you stop your rants about Obama and actually do something instead of expecting someone else to do it?

    June 17, 2010 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  22. CNN works for DNC

    Oh, that's just because Obama used two-syllable words during his television address and, according to CNN; the American public was too stupid to understand what he was saying. Only the people with a tenth grade education or higher knew that Obama said nothing and has no tangible plan. Had people who have less than a tenth grade education understood Obama's speech, his numbers would be much lower right now.

    June 17, 2010 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  23. 865155

    You guys want him to do everything, since when was The President in charge of OIL Spills.....yes he can push for a resolve, BP holds the cards

    But has anyone sent their sentiments to BP, or better stopped buying Gas ? He was handed a bag full of worms, rather than sit there and point ! What exactly are you doing to help ? Where is the finger pointingt or action against your Rpresentative or the Lobbyist who actually have been running this country into the ground . So easy to sit back and cast blame, then we do not have to take responsibility !

    June 17, 2010 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  24. Michael tampa

    I am just amazed by the reaction in this country, all the criticism I find funny, I have listened to everyone from actors to politicans to crazy cajuns (carville) yelling do something but when asked what they would do to solve this all you get is blank stares.

    He got 20 billion for the people of the gulf coast, what president has ever gotten a private company to put that kind of money up front. What usually happens is years and years of lawsuits the end result being the company wins.

    What on gods earth do the simpletons of this country want????

    June 17, 2010 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  25. christi

    To gt: Why don't you learn how to spell so we can actually understand what you are trying to say? "Help those folks now"? What the hell does that mean? What would you have Obama do...RIGHT NOW?

    June 17, 2010 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
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