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. JOhn

    These polls are completly meaningless. All they show is that advertising works. The vast majority upset with the repsonse have no idea what the response has been, no idea what should be done that is not.

    June 17, 2010 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  2. j russ

    Where the surprise in this..............an earthquake in Haiti and the world rushes to help. An earthquake in China and the world rushes to help. An oil spill in the gulf and the world rushes to help but Barry tells them no thanks, we don't want your help, we want the coast to be trashed so I can win my political points.

    June 17, 2010 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  3. Nelson, Colorado Springs Co

    America must listening to the new MEDIA. America need to ask itself. What do you really want the President Of The United States to do REALLY . That Bull Sh–t you hear what he wish he could have or should have done is POLITIC or NEW TALKING POINTS. President Obama has been to the Gulf States 4 times already. Ask yourself how many congressman or senator have been to the gulf states to check thing out insted of whing about President Obama and the job he doing.POLITIC POLITIC POLITIC

    June 17, 2010 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  4. Big John

    I think it's ludricrous that people are blaming President Obama for lack of response to this disaster. He most assuredly is as angry as the rest of us but displaying anger will do no good in any clean-up or stopping of the spewing well. He's quietly working doing what he can to do EVERYTHING that CAN be done under the circumstances. At least he's on top of it and holding BP feet to the fire and not playing a guitar or playing golf..."Watch this drive".

    June 17, 2010 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  5. Living in America

    Was the President supposed to handle the oil spill the way John McCain stopped his campaign to handle the financial crisis during the election. He came unprepared with no agenda, no adequate information or something. The "Maverick" came out looking like a fool. I want a President that is gonna access the situation, get the correct people in order to handle the situation before he comes on television. Now folks are screaming,oh my God he is not tough enough with BP. He is too tough with BP. We want government to stay out of our lives. But time something like this happen you want the government involved. He didn't talk about clean air exclusively during his speech to the nation because he wasn't suppose to. He did exactly what he was supposed to do. He stopped the naysayers who has been saying that he hasn't done anything about the oil spill.

    June 17, 2010 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  6. Keith

    Completely ridiculous. What do they expect Obama to do actually?

    June 17, 2010 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  7. E. Sephus

    The way Obama is handling every issue currently on his plate will damage and have serious repercussions for several generations.

    June 17, 2010 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  8. Larry

    You can't please everyone. Someone has to be the grown up and take responsibility. He's doing just fine. And he's much much smarter than 99% of your poll respondents. They shouldn't judge him until they've walked in his shoes. Polls are so lame.

    June 17, 2010 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  9. JonDie

    How convenient! The crimes of an oil company, a foreign oil company at that, sink the ratings of a Democratic president who might lead us away from our addiction to oil and the record profits that oil companies make every year at our expense.

    June 17, 2010 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  10. CyberPimp

    Does anyone remember the headline one week before the BP oil debacle? "Obama approves expanded oil exploration in the Gulf region". Now this week he is using this disaster to push his same tired agenda of Cap & Trade. Instead of forcing this upon us in the name of global warming, its in the name of oil spills. Thats why his poll numbers are dropping. That is NOT leadership, its salesmanship.

    June 17, 2010 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  11. Tom-Vermillion, Ohio

    Most Republicans trust BP more than government? 6 in 10 disapprove of The Presidents handling of this? Okay then, how specifically how would you handle this matter? I have not heard anything of substance since April 21, 2010, not even 'drill-baby-drill'. Imagine what it would be like flying without regulations firmly in placed and enforced. There would be weekly air crashes with no one having a clue as to why they are happenning. The way things are now, there is a high probability that something even more awlful than this oil slick is going to happen. Here's your chance to be heroes, what's the solution (those who disapprove)? You folks don't have a clue do you?

    June 17, 2010 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  12. haren

    Let us look at this oil spill in proper perspective.
    Did Obama admin. has any knowledge about how much oil is guessing from well on day one?
    Answer is NO.
    Did Fed gov. had any under ground camera or equipment to look at the damage?
    Answer is NO.
    Is BP was telling truth about oil spilling of only 1000 gallon per day.
    Answer is NO.
    Did Obama Admin trust BP to fix oil well in reasonable time and assume that this is not going to be big disaster.
    answer is YES.
    So this was not like Katrina hurricane and knowledge about what hurricane can do the damage.
    So how can you blame Obama for not responding to this disaster?
    He is doing far better than people who criticized him in getting 20 billion dollar without Cap for all this red state republican who are keep swimming in OIL and for Oil corporation.

    June 17, 2010 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  13. Four and The Door

    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.
    People are smart enough to see that the federal government was not doing their job any better than BP. Worse yet, the federal government's response has been ineffective. It's bad enough to lose confidence in an industry leader like BP, but to lose confidence in the federal government? That's what Obama needs to deal with. Brutalizing BP is not what gives Americans more confidence in the federal government.

    June 17, 2010 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  14. ilene

    we have the smartest president in decades and we end up trashing him. with all the problems he faced -give him a break!!!!

    June 17, 2010 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  15. CathyInAZ

    While I believe the government response should have been 'stronger", I believe the first step in that direction is the creation of the escrow fund as well as the assurance that the $20 billion is not a "cap". I find it UNBELIVEABLE that members of the GOP actually are defending BP (Michelle Bachmann, Joe Barton etc). I doubt we would be in this mess without the constant 'Drill Baby Drill" mantra of the GOP and steps taken by BP to limit their expenditures. SHAME SHAME SHAME.
    This escrow fund is a start but someone needs to MAKE BP pay until it hurts AND to insist that protective gear be allowed by those who are cleaning up this mess. To continue to allow BP to tell these workers they can not use protective gear and to threaten them with dismissal is beyond words! WE NEED TO END DRILLING!

    June 17, 2010 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  16. Beverly - NYC

    Can we get a poll on how many people hate all these CNN insta polls that do not speak for me? When exactly did we become a nation of emotionally stunted idiots who require that our "feelings" to be polled on an hourly basis. Those unhappy today will be happy when they get a check, those who don't live near the gulf spill or have a connection to it will be whining about needing a personal bailout. Then the next "crisis" will occur and the national conscience will move on. We've forgotten about New Orleans, The World Trade Center is a tourist attraction, and no one mentions Haiti anymore. Enough with the polls CNN.

    June 17, 2010 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  17. demo

    He, the President, is going to hold BP accountable and we all applaud that, but when he is being held accountable for his actions or inactions all of you "progressives" come to his defense. He saddled this bronc with his "I'm in charge" statement, let's see if he can ride it.

    June 17, 2010 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  18. works for me

    t is the intelligent among us that believe President Obama is on the right road. It is those that hold out hope of a truly better America lies in her future. He's also on a very thin fence. On one side here he steps on the nuts of BP and others while the other he's lambasted for taking away jobs. I could go on and on, but sometimes it's just not productive. President Obama is not God although he's the easiest target when the mirror, in reality, should be... our own images. We are all to blame... humans. It's in our DNA. Greed, entitlement and collusion. Gotta have it and gotta have it now... mine... mine... mine!

    Let's face it... you just can't wake those pretending to be asleep.

    June 17, 2010 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  19. Donald North Carolina

    From Day 1 both BP and the Federal Government have proven their inability to handle this catastrophe and we're now almost two months into it and the environment and people in this area are being decimated while now Congress and every expert, polictical hake, and so-called experts run their mouths on TV about what should have been done.
    Well, I say take all of them and stuff them into the damn pipe to stop it!

    Another fine example of what could go wrong -went wrong under the watchful,protective eyes of our governent. Now BP is spending millions to protect their sacred image and Obama doesn't have the backbond to ORDER immediate action or jail the damn criminals.

    We saw the mine disaster in West Virginia a short time ago and look how it has faded into the past again with no results after those miner's deaths. As Ronald Reagan would say, "Here we go again!"

    June 17, 2010 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  20. Pres Doing Good Job

    President Obama is doing everything that he can. He can not stop the link himself, and obviously there is no one in government who knows how to. He can only do two things: Make sure BP pays, which is being done. And two, make sure BP keeps working to fix the leak, which is being done.

    June 17, 2010 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  21. ilene

    i am sick of the leading writers --maureen dowd etc. tearing him apart-what do you want a palin to distroy this country.

    June 17, 2010 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  22. LOL !

    It's his fault just like 911 was Bush's fault ! and the banks lending money for 2 million $ houses to heads that make $45,000 a year was Bush's fault ! Hmmm, Yep, I'd say it's his fault....

    June 17, 2010 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    Well, I never saw this poll and I didn't get to vote in it. I am so proud of having a President who is intelligent, compassionate, engaged and inclusive. I think he's doing a magnificant job of leading this Country and I am so happy to be alive during his administration. I don't want to go back to a president who couldn't even put a sentance together, who had no idea what he was doing, who was totally lacking in any compassion towards those who weren't his wealthy oil buddies, who led us down a path of total destruction. You're expecting President Obama to fix what took eight long years in the making. Where were all your complaints then? Now that we finally have someone who could actually put this Country back on a positive, productive path, you decide to turn your frustration and anger on him. He's not your enemy. He's your savior.

    June 17, 2010 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  24. WA resident

    "What do you think the President can do?" - Well, tell this to the folks in coast that the President (the executive this country has hired and supposedly the most intelligent, experienced and powerful man in the world) has no clue what to do. Tell the folks, to drink cool aide while they wait–wait-wait–wait– for Obama and his CZARs and experts find the solution.

    There is a time to praise a President but there is a time that after 50+ days, the president needs to be called out for his bad administration of this oil leak problem. If Obama is a CEO of a company, it go down bankrupt.

    June 17, 2010 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  25. Florida Joe

    These polls are meaningless

    June 17, 2010 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
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