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. kimberly

    and when its cleaned up he will be a hero...polls are useless, unless they are done about elections and are done at election time...polls=waist of time, job security for some poor shmuck

    June 17, 2010 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  2. Sniffit

    "When a political party tries to undo an election result
    and conspires to undermind the winner of said election,
    it sure does smack of marxism."

    Thank you for proving that the people using the words socialism, communism, marxism and fascism on a daily basis in order to stir the 1950's McCarthyistic fervor have ZERO understanding what the hell they are talking about. NONE. ZIP. ZILCH. NADA. THE BIG EGG. You guys wouldn't know what any of those things were if they crawled past your over-retentive sphincters and took up residence in your duodenums.

    June 17, 2010 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  3. Rob

    Obama sucks! Just another wishy-washy Democrat in bed with corporate America. And, the Republicans are even worse. Where is that "Drill, baby, drill!" chant now? Scumbags....all of them.

    I voted for Obama. But, I am going back to my roots and voting my beliefs and my conscience instead of voting for the lesser of 2 evils. I have once again become a registered Green. And, will stay that way.

    President Obama? You sir have failed.

    The Republican's concern for this spill is about as sincere as John McCain claiming to be an Abba fan. NOT!

    June 17, 2010 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  4. Ex-Republican since McCain picked Palin

    He excepted help from Mexico, the Dutch and Norway. (check the facts if you say he did not.) He has been down here 4 times, got us 20 Billion from BP and he still gets a low score? You Obama bashers would hate him if he found the cure for cancer tomorrow.
    Grow the he__ up people. What more can he do. Someone said send thousands of people to volunteer, well bp will not let you near the clean up. You haters are destroying the country that I have lived in for 62 years. Horrible, just horrible. If our wonderful President was a dumb old white man, everything he did would be good in your eyes. Like Bush, sending over 4,000 Americans to be killed in a wasted war. Leave my President alone!

    June 17, 2010 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  5. Marie MD

    adarthvadikl, CA – Yes I see bush getting $20B but just for himself.
    We, as Americans, need to stop the dependency on oil.
    I was at a traffic stop yesterday and it dawned on me that EVERY vehicle around my CAR was either a SUV or a VAN no other car at the light. I couldn't believe it!!
    I counted 11 at the traffic light and 21 in total before driving one mile while only two more cars in that same group.
    Why don't you people who keep complaining with no solution go after bachman and barton and boner who think the President is doing this to get help on his cap and trade and new energy policies.
    They are on the side of BP and against not just the President but all of us! The repugs are disgusting.

    June 17, 2010 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  6. Derrell in Texas

    To Jeff In Virginia: "leave .. hollow Fox talking points off" ... well, I don't know how I could think without Fox...but here goes:

    (and whatever I say, you and Oprah think "he's doing HIS BEST" ... which is a big inditement in itself).

    1. Expedite/consolidate all Federal Agencies by one "emergency agency" ... and tell them to immediately trial every idea of Gov. Jindal and other locals and prove it wrong/harmful before the "analyze-to-paralyze" ... as all federal agencies are designed to do.
    2. After getting every "union" USA skimmer on way to gulf ... suspend Jones act and QUICKLY accept any non-USA skimmer offers (and forget pissing off the unions just for now).
    3. Don't waste time/energy figuring out how not to "waste this crisis" for politics ... but focus on leading, and fixing (most American people are getting tired of "speeches"... except for you and Oprah-types).

    I have to go back to my engineering job here in Texas ... so, anything I say doesn't matter to Obama-ites; because we're not a swing state.

    June 17, 2010 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  7. Linda

    I don't get it. The man is not God. What more could he have done. I still support my President.

    June 17, 2010 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  8. William Jefferson

    bush had days to get responses ready for Katrina. No one knew this was going to hapen.

    bush saw first hand the devastation, and did nothing.

    in this case the damage was silent and a mile under the ocean. So when the engineers working on the spill initially saud1,000 barrels a day, it would have been crazy to call for a full scale mobilization. As it became clear that the estimates were wildly wrong the preisdent and the administration did exactly what they should have done. He is dead right – the feneral government has nothing in place to deal with something like this. Nothing.

    Why? Well, the easy answer is that the "deregulation reaganistas" would have none of it. Corporations, after all, are best left to regulate themselves and do this sort of thing on their own, right?

    Comparing this to Katrina is just a politicla talking point from people who would find some way to criticize President Obama is he waved a magic wand and made the oil reverse flow and suck itself back into the ground. No doubt glen beck and rush would go on and on about the dangers of using magic wands.................................and how it just proves he is the anti-Christ...........................

    June 17, 2010 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  9. Cecilia

    what in the hell do they want from this man – he could walk on water, end poverty, make the rich even richer, create oil free energy, cure cancer, and it still would not be enough –
    If I were the President, I would resign and tell the tea baggers to kiss off

    June 17, 2010 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  10. etan

    Why hasn't the government called in the national guard and military to help with the spill by bringing in heavy equipment to clean up and prevent the spill from reaching shore. (At BP's expense of course) During Katrina which was handle much better, the guard and servicemen and women from across the nation handled that disaster very well. Were is the effort this time. The government lacks direction, leadership and since of urgency for this problem.

    June 17, 2010 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  11. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Fair is Fair June 17th, 2010 12:45 pm ET

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

    WHATEVER possessed you to use the moniker "fair is fair"? You're FAR from it. In your HASTE to HATE you've lost ALL credibility on this board.

    Subject verb agreement. See above.

    June 17, 2010 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  12. malabar

    Funny how the libs chickens are coming home to roost. if u didnt want all blame laid at the feet of 1 man u shudnt have sold him as a god to the public and maybe u shudnt have laid all blame 4 everythng undr the sun at Bushs feet. u did this

    June 17, 2010 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  13. Bertina

    Weren't republicans just whining about tort reform and now they are upset Obama has bypassed the lawyers? He didn't force BP to do anything, they volunteered. That is what resolving a conflict outside of the courts is all about.

    Anyone who thinks Obama can stop the leak or force the clean up is delusional.

    June 17, 2010 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  14. Greg Pottstown PA

    Michael from Ventura June 17th, 2010 12:44 pm ET

    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.__________
    Is that a joke. Try to back that up.
    Bush suspended laws to get help during theKatrina cleen up . Obama is actively pushing away help. Facts are facts, Obama has had offers of help from 7 countries that have experience with this kind of spill and he will not even respond to the offers.

    June 17, 2010 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  15. Denise

    CNN the most tr@usted name in gossip news. You have become a rag. As soon as you put Showbiz tonight on at 5:00 I felt your desperation..

    Retire Wolf and Larry, give Jane V Mitchell a fat check for caring about all the faces that make up the US unlike Nancy G. She only sees white people.

    I think CNN is bias toward Obama.

    June 17, 2010 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  16. TEW

    Wait a minute.... CNN made a little of 500 telephone calls and these folks are suppose to represent the millions of citizens within the country? I'd like to know what region of the country these phone calls were placed. I'd bet that it was either in "Middle America" or some GOP dominated region where no matter what the Prez does it will be met with opposition.

    I encourage CNN to really think about the information it puts out as news as we can get this same twisted perspective from FOX. 500+ calls/responses does not accurately represent a nation of millions

    June 17, 2010 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  17. jules

    American has become a bunch of spoil brats...he does not matter what he does he is going to be wrong at whatever he does...but guess what...get over ourselves...we need a fix quick person...when he took over the office, it was in bad shape...we cannot build our hopes and dreams in a person that comes from God...it took us a lot of years to get into this mess...it like someone with a bad credit it took you quiet a fews years to run up those debt right...if you get someone to help you with your credit ..it is going to take a while for your credit to be good again right?....When the country was florishing we were not paying attention..but now are in dierstrates...we want to blame...look in the mirror and take a hard look at ourselves ...I'm speaking to reasonable people not those who can be swayed...people who can think for themselves and not be swayed by party affliate...or .listen to the nut jobs in washington that includes republicans we are ready to put republicans back in office and they are the ones who put us in this mess ..by trusting them to do the right things ...what did they do irregulate all the big companies and line their pockets...and the people want to put them back in power...GROW UP AND TAKE RESPONSIBILTY FOR OUR OWN LIVES AND STOP RELYING ON OTHER PEOPLE.

    June 17, 2010 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  18. Augsbee

    Michael from Ventura – so you think that because President Bush messed up on Katrina that's a free pass for Obama to mess up on this crisis or any other crises down the road????? is that any way of running our country????? do you really think that the victims of Louisiana really care about this Bush vs Obama competition when they stand to lose everything, their way of life????? I don't think they can take this competition to the bank.

    June 17, 2010 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  19. Kathy Robbins

    In a country with 300+ million citizens 534 of them have been polled and the media grabs this paltry opinion slice as proof that the majority of Americans disapprove of the President's handling of the crisis. Well, they didn't poll me! If they had I would approve primarily because I don't know what else the man can do than what he's already doing.

    June 17, 2010 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  20. Judi

    I can't believe what is expected of this President. He has done more for the American people since he's been in the White House than your former President did for his whole 8 years. He has worked long and hard for the poor and middle class and he has tried to fullfill his promises he made while he was campaigning. But oh no, instead of supporting him, all I read and hear, especially from CNN is trashing him. Americans should be thanking God everyday you have President Obama. Image if John McCain and Sarah Palin were in charge, then you would have something to crab about. I understand holding your elected officials accountable, but where is everyone when the republicans just say NO, to everything. They have no ideas and no suggestions, and now you have republicans saying sorry to BP. Try standing with your President or is it just easier to trash talk him.

    June 17, 2010 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  21. Carrie

    Just wait if we have another 911 we are in big trouble with Obama...I am sorry to say I do not think he could handle it. I pray that is never happens for all of our sakes.

    June 17, 2010 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  22. Ron

    You elect a Community Organizer with no leadership abilities don't be surprised when you get an incompetent president with no leadership abilities. During the primaries in 2008 even Hillary Clinton said Obama had no experience in a leadership role and if he was elected he would be "learning on the job". And now you are surprised to find out Obama is not a leader? All this spill did was confirm for most of us that he is incompetent. Now the rest of the country (and the world) is getting that confirmation.

    June 17, 2010 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  23. Republicans Are The American Taliban

    If President Obama personally walked on water....then stopped the oil gusher himself...Fox News would report that he is causing unemployment by putting the pelican scrubbers out of work...

    June 17, 2010 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  24. Weezie in Ohio

    If you tell people that the sky is purple everyday, before you know it, many without an original thought of their own will agree with you! This is what the media is doing to keep controversy going for ratings.

    If the media reported on how well the government was doing on handling the oil spill constantly, Obama's ratings would be through the roof with most of the people that you are polling not having a clue. Their neighbor said the government wasn't doing a good job and the next thing you know, it was their opinion.

    June 17, 2010 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  25. Sam in California

    Who was running for president that was an oil spill expert? Who was running for president that was a hurricane relief expert? When will people realize that the President is a ceremonial job based on talk and vague promises and ideologies? ANYONE in the oval office would be in the same conundrum as Obama, same as Bush for Katrina.

    June 17, 2010 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
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