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. Charlie in Maine

    Un-fair question. I love the guy but there is nothing to approve of untll the leak stops.

    I do approve of his not getting "mad"

    I do approve of him not causing a war to take our minds off it.

    I do approve of him making BP set up a fund.

    I guess you could say I approve of him not being George W Bush.

    Until BP stops the leak there is not a lot he can do.

    Here's an interesting excersise, Wait and see what all these "Haven't done enough" people say when he pushes regulation. Or better yet call my Senators and ask them why they are blocking energy reform at a time when we need it most.

    June 17, 2010 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  2. Ohio Dem

    I am a registered Democrat, I voted for Obama and even I am disappointed.

    I was not happy with how Bush handled Katrina, the wars, etc... I am also not happy with how Obama has handled health care, financial regulation, the unions or this oil spill. What has American politics come to???

    This is not a campaign opportunity. This is not an excuse to pass cap and trade. This is a national EMERGENCY with real people involved. Stop grandstanding, stop campaigning, stop, stop, stop!!!

    June 17, 2010 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  3. Benedict Obama

    Obama's much delayed response to this crisis has been abysmal. What's worse is that most media seems to still be giving him a free pass. Guess they are both funded by the same source...

    June 17, 2010 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  4. inofritzn

    Egotistical, self-serving, arrogant, inexperienced, opportunistic. it's not that people want Obama to fix the problem himself, you superman people, it's that we see his "never let a good disaster go to waste" mentality.

    June 17, 2010 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  5. Larry from San ANtonio

    We've become a ridiculous bunch of citizens. Americans want a less intellectual, more openly emotional, and a more shoot-from-the-hip President? How did that work out with "W"? President Obama is doing a magnificent job of leading us through this unprecedented technical crisis. Unlike the previous administration, the President and Vice President aren't in the hip pocket of every oil company executive on the planet. How about you Tea Party folks? Do you now want just a little bit of socialism – at least in the oil clean-up arena? President Obama is a better leader than we deserve.

    June 17, 2010 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |

    I bet if this happened during Bush's presidency, the looney left would be screaming impeachment.

    June 17, 2010 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  7. REG in AZ

    TEXAS REP APOLOGIZES TO BP!!! Without any doubt and especially without any hint of guilt Joe Barton showed where his complete loyalty and commitment is; not with his constituents but with the Special Interests who support him and who he caters to. It is but one clear example of what is wrong in politics. As long as politics takes so much money just to run then money is just going to run politics (and the people will come in 2nd, if at all). We saw it even more vividly over the eight years with Bush-Cheney constantly doing everything to placate and patronize Special Interests and the select few, while they gave the people only apathy, the costs and an abundance of subterfuge to rationalize and manipulate. Whenever it is obvious a politician favors Special Interests and/or the special few, the voters need to take notice and beware.

    June 17, 2010 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  8. Geoz

    I support the President. Mr. Obama didn't cause the spill and is doing everything he can to fix the problem.

    I hope that America can see that Oil consumption is the problem and we need alternative fuels. It is good for the environment, economy, and no more trading blood for oil.

    June 17, 2010 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  9. hilroy

    How many of these polls have CNN done on other presidents? Get over it, there is a black man in the white house which slaves built.

    This is a very suspiciuos oil spill as more and more people are coming to believe. He made one mistake and that is not contacting the president of BP much sooner. Once again, BTBM. Blame the black man.

    June 17, 2010 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  10. ThinkAgain

    Augsbee and all the other posters here who need to grow the F up: You want to de-regulate business; when business causes a catastrophe, you want the government to step in.

    You say President Obama is in charge of everything, but are probably members of the teabagger party who says the President is a totalitarian dictator who wants to control everything.

    You people are a bunch of whiny jerks who will complain until the cows come home – and apparently have the memory and thinking capacity of a gnat that you've completely forgotten the ruination the Bush presidency brought upon our country.

    June 17, 2010 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  11. Bedtime for Obonzo

    @Madchadley - well said.

    June 17, 2010 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  12. Ken, AZ

    If the president's TV address to the nation was written on a 10th grade level and it was over most of the listener's heads, then why should anyone place any credence on a poll of the people? Evidently a majority of the American people are too ignorant to comprehend what is happening, including Sarah Palin. One fine example of this is that a majority are pissed off because of the oil spill, yet they think that the ban on off-shore drilling should be lifted without firther review or new regulations. How dumb is that?

    June 17, 2010 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  13. Hypocrisy Knows No Bounds

    Maybe President Obama should follow the lead of his Republican friends and completely abandon his principles for cheap political reasons. I'm amazed that anti-government conservatives have the audacity to start whining, now that the going has gotten tough, that the government isn't doing enough. Unlike oil, hypocrisy is apparently an unlimited resource. Where's that vaunted conservative faith in the free-market? Do you mean to tell me that not only did free-market forces fail to prevent this disaster, they can't even be marshaled to fix it? It would be interesting if Obama were to declare that the answer is actually LESS regulation, LESS government interference, and LESS "entitlement-minded dependence" (as Bush's first FEMA director, Joe Allbaugh, might have put it) on government agencies like FEMA and the Coast Guard. He won't do that, of course, because he's not the unprincipled jag-off that many of his critics on the other side of the aisle are.

    June 17, 2010 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  14. Syphon Filter

    Everyone wants to jump on the Bandwagon when it comes to hating the president. It is easier for people to point the blame, and assume how easy it is for a President to just snap his fingers and break constitutional law, because that's what the right wing nut jobs want him to do so that they have a case to take over and have the power. Fact: President Elect Obama is the only president to get $20 billion dollars for an oil spill on behalf of those who will suffer from this tragic event. For those republicans who are lying about the actual facts, the Washington Post confirms that In late May the Obama administration accepted Mexico's offer of 2 skimmers & 13,779 feet of boom; a Dutch offer of 3 sets of Keseq sweeping arms, which attach to the sides of ships and gather oil; and 8 skimming systems offered by Norway. Those actual sand Berms that "Raghead" Bobby Jindal was so animate about, have been scientifically been found to not be effective and may corode the area. .......Sarah Palin on the O'Reilly factor stated that the top priority is for the President to stop the Oil Leak, and when asked if she could stop it, she then proceeded to say that Obama should have received assistance from the Dutch, but obama refused. Then Ms. Bendy Straw went on by saying that Obama was being called by the Dutch for assistance. But as I stated earlier, The Washington Post has confirmed that Obama did indeed accept the offers as stated above..............Wake UP America. Obama is for the people. republicans are for the oil companies and multinational corporations.

    June 17, 2010 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  15. ThinkAgain

    A poster here said, "I do take issue with him using this crisis to push forward his policy agendas."

    What do you call using 9/11 as an excuse to invade Iraq? Or pass the Patriot Act? Or throw Habeus Corpus under the bus?

    What a bunch of fools!

    June 17, 2010 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  16. B Rye

    I for one was never an Obama supporter based on his credentials; however I am actually not disappointed in the way he handled this crisis or upset on how Katrina was handled. Why? Because it is not the DAMN GOVERNMENT that should be responsible for everything, each state is responsible for their own actions. Katrina was handled so poorly on a STATE level, and the they reelected the guy, why should the American Government be responsible for looking after equipment on levy systems and flood evacuation plans. Now on the BP spill that is a large part BP but let’s not forget that it is also a large part of OIL COMPANIES as well. Don’t think that if this would have happen to another company it would have been repaired by now, no flipping way folks! It’s just BP got busted, same as all of us who have driven home intoxicated but never got busted verses those who did. This is a disaster, don’t get me wrong, but the whole system failed, there should have been governmental regulations and standards like that of every other major organization and line of work. This would have been handled differently if NASA was in charge, because they always think of the “what if question”, no matter how ridiculous it may seem, and to this date no, repeat no astronaut has died in space, take off and reentry, which are always dangerous!

    Up to about two weeks ago I thought the government was doing well, it’s only till the press put pressure did Obama and the government start saying stupid things, like we are going to kick their butts for this, treating as if it was a terrorist attack. What ever man, worry about the problem before lawyering up, hell let’s throw them bastards out there and see if they can help, might make this nation better if Lawyers did a bit of real hands on work verses trying to make excuses for bad Americans. (There are good ones, I know, but unfortunately there are too many corrupt ones)

    Stop making excuses America, stand behind your leaders and try and help clean up the mess, then look for preventive actions. States take care of your own business, way too many people are collecting unemployment, including the States them selves.

    June 17, 2010 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  17. David

    I want to see the polls after the last two days of BP's butt gettin' kicked. His speech was delivered poorly – he looked tired and he's better in front of an audience.

    His approval ratings nationally have been hovering on gallup around 50% for the last few days. He's doing fine. This poll kinda points to how polls are no longer, well, accurate, as conditions have changed pretty dramatically in the last 48 hours. If this poll was conducted now then maybe it would be a better snapshot.

    June 17, 2010 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  18. Lucy

    "If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear them from heaven and will forgive their sins and HEAL THEIR LAND." (2 Chronicles)

    C'mon people, it's time for a revival because only God (and Obama is no god) can fix this problem. And now I hear the highly-pressurized methane gas is gonna BLOW!

    June 17, 2010 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  19. Ken in NC

    i don't know what people expect the President to do about this oil spill. I think he is doing all he can do. Our government is not in the oil business so it does not have the ability to do oil spill clean-up.

    June 17, 2010 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  20. independent

    If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
    If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;

    If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
    Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
    And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

    If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
    If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
    If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;

    If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
    Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
    And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools:

    If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
    And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;

    If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,
    And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!'

    If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
    Or walk with kings – nor lose the common touch,
    If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;

    If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds' worth of distance run –
    Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
    And – which is more – you'll be a Man my son

    June 17, 2010 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  21. Puddin'

    I wish all of you Obama bashers would just SHUT UP!!!! This is BP's problem – Unless any of you know of where our government has stashed the equipment to fix BP's screw up – then JUST SHUT UP!!!

    I am agreement with Independent's comment – He is damed if he does and Damned if he doesn't – And I don't recall GOD being elected in the election that got rid of the do nothing President.....

    June 17, 2010 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  22. Stymie99

    Obama's handling the BP thing well enough. I'm really starting to think, though, that he's not nearly as capable - generally speaking - as I thought he would be. He's pushing the wrong agenda and surrounding himself with people with less than a stellar character. Plus, what happened to his ability to motivate and inspire people? He's turned into a monotone talking head... reminds me of the teacher in Ferris Bueller's Day Off (Ben Stein). I voted for him, but I'm starting to see several other better alternatives from the Dems and Repubs.

    June 17, 2010 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  23. MPL

    If the President cannot stop the oil from gushing in the ocean, its scary to think of what else he is unable to stop or control. With all the intellegence we have in this country, how is it that we cannot stop this oil from leaking and killing a "universe". With all the danger that is out there, it is concerning to me that our President and all of the intellegence he has at this fingertips cannot stop or solve this problem. What else can he not solve?

    June 17, 2010 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  24. art200224

    lol at all the folks saying how republicans are the biggest supporters of big oil companies............i guess you same people do not know that BP was one of Obamas biggest donors? Get you heads out of your you know whats and get back here to reality with the rest of us.......Have a nice day!

    June 17, 2010 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  25. susan

    These polls are meaningless. People only know what they are told on TV, and when Fox is blasting the President for things out of his control, when MSNBC says they are 'disappointed' in his response, when you can see the oil gush 24 hours a day, what do you think people will say? Everyone media mouth is looking for a goat here, and the right has chosen the President. So what? If he had taken over BP a month ago, and taken charge of the situation, they would be upset at him for being a communist and taking over another company. Until someone (not sarahnoia's Norwegian dike pluggers) figures out how to stop this gusher, no one will be happy. I think the President is doing his very best under horrendous obstacles.

    June 17, 2010 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
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