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. DagnyTag

    Put a stick in him. He's done like dinner. I think that very speech was the beginning of the end; when everyone (finally) realizes this man's undeniable lack of executive experience. There are many in denial as the days go on, but it's non inevitable. There have been some penetrating critiques that point very clearly, in the full light of day, devoid of policy, ideology, bias, etc, that clearly lay out the glaring mishandling of this event. It's all right there, no way to spin this one. The last speech, full of the same lofty rhetoric, devoid of substance, that lured so many. It's a disaster like this, shinning brightly on something many have said for a loooong time now. The illumination provided is brilliant enough for the dimest/blindest to see.

    June 17, 2010 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  2. Fred Mertz

    What did you drones expect? He has never had executive experience, has never run anything, and obviously is unable to make decisions, then when he finally does - they are wrong!

    With smoke and mirrors, obfuscation, an adoring and enabling media, feints and plain outright lies, he fooled most of the nation into electing him. But most distressing is the increasing gullibility of the electorate to be so taken in by an obvous con-artist. A worrisome trend.

    June 17, 2010 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  3. billaustx1

    What astonishes me about all of this, is that Joe Barton would have the gall to slam the white house for insisting BP setup a 20 billion dollar escrow account. As the poll numbers show, a majority of the US public support that action. Joe Barton sounds like a typical Corporate apologist....sorry Joe, but when a company makes a mess, they should clean it up. Too often Corporate America tries to spin and press release itself out of owning up to it's responsibility, hoping that we all get a case of national amnesia, and compensation gets put on the back burner. My parents were right when they said the "me generation" would screw up this country as soon as it got into power, and we've been dealing with 25-30 years of "It's not my fault" and "I want it all now, all for ME, ME, ME, screw the rest of you." mentality as a result. Those who make the gold, make the rules, and they will make the rules that suit them to keep all the gold, without regard for fair play. Everyone else gets the shaft, and gets called a socialist when they question how the game is rigged. Sorry Barton, we're not falling for it this time.

    June 17, 2010 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  4. Karen

    Cnn is becoming worst than Fox when it comes to spreading the so called news.Can't you find somehing better to write about instead of being so negative about our PRESIDENT!!!!He didn't cause this problem BP DID..........

    June 17, 2010 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  5. Mark

    The President could have from day 1 or any time to the present write an Executive Order to waive the Jones Act temporarily to allow other nations/oil companies to send help immediately and assist with the spill.

    He could have made his speech a month ago.

    People are unhappy with the way the government is handling the oil spill. Boy, it is a good thing they passed the health care bill because i'm sure they will handle that better?

    June 17, 2010 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  6. Mike

    What to you think the polls would have been after Pearl Harbor. My bet is that a majority of Americans would have thought FDR wasn't tuff enough on the Japanese. This is a National Crisis and this President knows it and is smart enough to know what he can do, what he can't do, and what he should do. Everyone should take a deep breath and instead of rushing to uninformed judgements, give the man some room to work without having to listen to pollsters telling him which move will get more popular public opinion. We are a spoiled, want it NOW, population, and we know it and we know better. Let us shut up and help.....maybe by not answering that phone when the Caller ID shows its a Poll, anyone's poll, they are not helpful, period!

    June 17, 2010 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  7. Courtney Anne

    I agree with Oprah Winfrey. President Obama is doing the best job he can with this oil crises. Please don't say if John McCain was president, he would be doing any better right now. That would be a lie!In fact, most of the republicans support BP and the oil companies, even with this man-made disaster. Republicans need to wake up and stop criticizing the president, before we lose our beautiful planet earth. This is serious folks.

    June 17, 2010 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  8. witch56

    I have yet to see a big S on the chest of the president, so until one appears I guess we do what we are doing now. Does any one know how too fix this? I don't think so or they would. He will never be liked by everyone so he damned if he does damned if he doesn't. I guess 20 billion is nothing! Thank you Mr President. I support you

    June 17, 2010 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  9. mf57

    Live by big government, die by it. President Obama has been telling us for a long time that government will help us with health care, banking, foreclosures, clunkers, global warming, losing weight. So unfair or no, why wouldn't the public expect he and his government to solve this crisis?
    Good stuff and bad stuff sticks to the man in the White House, kinda like tar balls.

    June 17, 2010 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  10. waheid

    I continue to support the president. He never claimed that he could stop the leak or stop the environmental disaster. The focus should not be on the president, but on BP and the policies that allow deep-water drilling.
    Many of the same people who are complaining and blaming the president are the same ones complaining about the moratorium on off-shore drilling. You can't have it both ways: (1) drill, baby, drill and (2) we have a leak that no one on the planet knows how to stop.
    A word about Sen. Barton: Barton is the kind of Senator who gives the Congress a bad name. And Nungesser is the kind of rabble-rouser that gives politicians a bad name.

    June 17, 2010 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  11. This President really gets it!

    Are you kidding me? The President has been and continues to be in charge of this disaster. On April 22 he has a presser from the Rose Garden announcing BP will pay the full extent of the damages. Period. Then yesterday the announcement of the $20 billion WITH NO CAP. BP agreed to stop paying dividends to stockholders for the remainder of the year. BP agreed to set up a $500 million fund to deal with the long term health issues Gulf residents may face. BP agreed to set up $100 million fund to compensate displaced oil rig workers from the moratorium. Again, NO CAP. He was critized for not meeting with BP CEO Hayward. But as it turns out, this was no accident. Those who choose to continue to berate the President for his handling of the disaster in the Gulf are missing the whole picture. The President knows EXACTLY what he is doing and why. Has there been a poll about how the affected in the Gulf feel about what the President did yesterday? No question. We elected the the right man for the job! He knew from the get go how to get a mulit-national, multi-billion dollar company to take responsibilty and start writing those checks. Now THAT is what leadership really looks like folks!

    June 17, 2010 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  12. John Huff

    Maybe we should be looking at ourselves for using the oil that comes out of the gulf? Or maybe we should have elected an oil man because this was going to happen. OOPs we already did.

    June 17, 2010 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  13. JJ in NY

    Obama talks a good game, but he's just another empty suit. Even worse, he's a helpless puppet for the radical liberal/progressive agenda that's bankrupting and ruining America .

    June 17, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  14. All the Obama and CNN bashers

    I don't see how you can say CNN is a pro Obama site

    CNN rehashes over and over the same story constantly just to drum up comments

    this particular story about a poll showing disapproval has been run many times already and opened repeatedly for more comments

    CNN definately would NOT do that if it was pro Obama

    June 17, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  15. onthe beach

    I live on the beaches of NWFla and my take is that NO ONE was prepared for this type of catastrophe. It is inexcusable that BP, TransOcean and Halliburton had no plan in place for the worst case scenario. If the oil companies who are the experts in this field can't figure out how to stop it then how can people blame Obama for not getting is stopped immediately-he's not in the oil business unlike Bush and Cheney . It boggles my mind to think people think he's not doing enough. He's not dumb and he knows how much is riding on this and wouldn't blow it off for God's sake.

    June 17, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  16. IKHAN

    When finally President Obama appears to get a handle on things.Republicans are scrambling to the aid of BP.
    Rep Joe Barton saying" i am ashamed of BP's shake down" is a shameful thing to say & against the efforts to pindown BP's liability.

    June 17, 2010 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  17. Madchadley

    Quick question:
    All of you defending Obama and asking how he could be blamed for his lack of response and "What more could he do, he is just one person", where did you stand on blaming Bush for Katrina? I'm guessing you were whole heartedly laying blame at his feet, even though he is "just one man".

    I didn't blame Bush for Katrina, I certainly don't blame Obama for the spill. I do take issue with him using this crisis to push forward his policy agendas. Address the crisis first, then politics afterward.
    But as his own Chief of Staff has said "never let a good crisis go to waste" Well, he certainly isn't.

    June 17, 2010 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  18. Augsbee

    Excuses, Excuses, Excuses, you're not going to be able to excuse this away for President Obama. Obama is the Manager, CEO, Captain of the ship in charge of our country, it is his job to figure it all out, the full responsibility always falls on the shoulders of the Manager, CEO, Captain of a ship just like in any store, business, ship, it is up to the Manager, CEO, Captain to take the lead and come up with a solution.

    He sat back letting BP be in charge of a catastrophe in our country when it was he who immediately should have beenon location, telling BP what he wanted them to do to protect our country and protecting the people of Louisiana instead of these families directly having to deal with BP hoping to get some money as they stand to lose everything they have worked for.

    June 17, 2010 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  19. Deuce

    I'm beginning to think the right wing in this country would rather have Walmart in charge then their legally elected leaders.

    You guys may be quick to hand over more and more control and power to corporate america, but I'll take even the most inept person's election over the "self regulation" you fools want any day...

    June 17, 2010 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  20. Independent

    Damn if he does, damn if he doesn't !!!! I think he's doing what he can. Geez, there is no magic wand or GOD that can cap this. It lies with BP to get the thing capped.
    Look in the mirror people, we love our oil and this is what happens.What do they expect him to do?!!
    I think people forgot that our wonderful President is HUMAN.

    June 17, 2010 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  21. Dave, Central Illinois

    Too bad he turned his Oval Office address into a political speech. His polls would be higher if he would have actually addressed the pressing issue – stopping the leak!

    June 17, 2010 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  22. Michael from Ventura

    I am an Obama supporter- and proud of it. I do think more could be done on this though. He has handled it much better than his predecessor handled Katrina- but still that isn't saying a whole lot.

    June 17, 2010 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  23. Bob (Illinois)

    CNN ius becoming more pathetic with every passing day. All you folks appear to be able to do is recycle articles with new headlines or quote meaningless polls.

    Face it. The general populace doesn't have the foggiest idea about what the government can REALLY do without running the risk of making a case for BP in future suits: The government stepped, took control of everything so we (BP) are not responsible.

    What the General public needs is a nanny!

    June 17, 2010 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  24. Fair is Fair

    Can't grade him on his actions – there hasn't been any.

    Zero times anything is still zero.

    June 17, 2010 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  25. obama victim

    the obama presidency is over

    June 17, 2010 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
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