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. Paul, Texas

    What a lot of nonsense...534 people were polled by telephone for their finding....Stupid article.

    June 17, 2010 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  2. Quick-Draw Obama

    Right-wing claims about "Obama's slow response" are anti-factual garbage. The Obama administration was on the ball immediately. On April 21, the day after the explosion, the administration had already assembled a response team involving the Coast Guard, NOAA, the EPA, Homeland Security, and local representatives. They were similarly engaged on April 22, April 23, ... We can argue about how effective this action has been, but failing to work miracles is hardly the same thing as doing nothing. I don't mind complaints about the President not walking on water. They're childish, but at least they are true. Bald-faced lies about the administration "doing nothing", though, are very annoying. President Obama must be doing well if the only shortcomings that right-wingers can come up with are those they just make up.

    June 17, 2010 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  3. Max

    Blah Blah Blah. You critics make me laugh. How would you like BP to walk away with a 75 million cap? That would help. There is a reason he hasn't pounded his fist and threatened BP. Use your freakin' heads and stop finding things to complain about.

    June 17, 2010 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    The repub's better not take these polls as the holy grail, One thing we have all learned is not to underestimate our President.

    June 17, 2010 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  5. MAT

    Who are the 41% who think he's done a good job? We need to identify them and round 'em up quick before their stupidity starts spreading.

    June 17, 2010 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  6. Tom from Ohio

    Today with online streaming video and instant text voting for our next musical inspiration, Americans have an attention span of about 2.5 seconds. We want immediate gratification. Obama has yet to stop the oil flow, cure cancer, or heal the sick and cure the blind. And its been over 500 days. Throw the bum out!

    June 17, 2010 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  7. Gulf Resident........Life ruined by Obama

    This is by far the worst president we have ever had. First my family loses our employer based health care because of Obama's Health Care Rip Off! Then I lose my job because Obama has done nothing to help the economy except use stimulus money for Union only jobs! Now he has taken away the beautiful enviroment because he does not know what to do about this oil,and has appointed people who should know but don't, because he only appointed them because of the color of their skin. Newsflash Obama, you are the president and you are supposed to handle disasters, we are on day 60!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and all you do is play golf on our tax dollars. Real nice Obama, what a joke, go back to Kenya, you are not wanted or welcome here in the U.S.

    June 17, 2010 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  8. Steph

    "Eighty-two percent approve of the creating of a fund of billions of dollars to compensate workers and businesses affected by the spill."

    Oh, that's very bad news for Rand and his friend Joe Barton.

    The President is holding the responsible party responsible for the damage they've caused, and yet the Republicans will distort and complain. It is down right disgraceful!

    I support the President's effort to protect the people of the gulf coast! God Bless America!

    June 17, 2010 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  9. normajean

    This president has been hit in the face with two wars, our economic problems,Wall Street,home and job loss,health care problems and then a major disaster in the Gulf,all in less than two years, and yet you ,the public, the Repubs and the news media continue to complain about everything he does.I would'nt be surprised if someday he was the first pres. to say,'if you can do it better,go for it,I QUIT" You haven't leaned this hard on past presidents. Could it really be because this president, being an intellegent really fine young man,but not effusive ,maybe a bit too calm isn't for you, or is it because he's a black man?Some of you admit, others haven't the nerve. Just who the" H "do think YOU are?

    June 17, 2010 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  10. thor

    I don't expect he can stop the leak but he sure as heck could have done a lot more to get the crude cleaned out of the waters.

    June 17, 2010 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  11. Wisconsinite

    Polls Schmolls . . . who gives a rat's behind??!! The President IS doing a good job and anyone who says he isn't is either willfully ignorant of the facts or has a political agenda to grind!

    June 17, 2010 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  12. Radar55

    And he still get's my vote! Between him and Jonh McCain or Sarah Palin,

    He will get my vote all day long. And 2012 , we will be voting for him in huge numbers, believe that!

    June 17, 2010 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  13. GDMS

    This would not have happened if our great president , President Bush was in charge. This just proves you can not trust a Democrat to do any thing right. Can not wait until 2012 when President Obama is out of office.

    June 17, 2010 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  14. tiff of Lithia Springs

    IF the people who specialize in this industry cant fix it then how do they expect the President to deal with something like this. Come on Transatlantic and Halliburton wheres your generosity and solving the problem for the people of the Gulf coast.

    June 17, 2010 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  15. emma

    CNN – Why do you invite all of this negative stuff about Obama and the spill? Have the critics reviewed all the research on oil spills in deep water, how to plug oil wells, evidence of dispersant and its consequences, etc.? How is it that so many people without advanced knowledge are making assumptions that are not backed by evidence and previous practices?

    June 17, 2010 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  16. bj

    Obama is our President and he happens to BLACK. I find it interesting that the slave/massah adage comes into play. First of all, Obama can think and he does that well. Just because he does not think or act like the Conservatives or the so-called liberals think he should,, does not mean he was not working hard from day one. But because he does not do as massah think he should do, he has not done enough.

    To hell with all of you ............ He just negotiated $20B, that was wrong too. Damn if you do, damn if you don't. Where were these 'concerned folks' when Bush was spending the surplus. Didn't hear a damn thing from you then.
    Is it because Obama is Black? Want to take back America now, why didn't you do it after Florida or Ohio? I wonder. And by the way how many Republican pockets have BP Money? Of course that doesn't matter because the no thinking idiots don't think about that. They only see BLACK!

    CNN is a free thinking man and because he does not move like you think he should does not mean he is not working hard. How dare you attempt to know what is in his mind – only God knows that! STFU!

    June 17, 2010 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  17. Randy

    The left said he had to fix the auto industry even though the government knows nothing about building cars. The left said he had to fix the economy, even though the government wastes more money and is more corrupt than any private industry. The left said he to fix health care even though the plan won't effect the people who passed the bill will not have to follow it's rules. Now everyone on the left says, what is he supposed to do? He "knew" how to "fix" all the other stuff, why not this?

    June 17, 2010 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  18. debi

    I cannot BELIEVE how CNN continuously allow people to say the same things over and over and not at least offer quotes from what the president has said that answers their questions. I cannot BELIEVE that King allowed a republican representative to sit down in a comfy chair and blast a bunch of crap about how Obama is taking over private industry WITHOUT offering a counter position. All King did was sit there and nod. What happened to OBJECTIVITY. What happened to journalism? It's not so hard to google "President BP MSM" and find out that he has setup a commision to restructure and that he had started that a year ago, but they did not realize how deeply it was corrupted. But NO! CNN allows their so-called journalist to offer their personal opinions to get ratings. I am stunned.

    June 17, 2010 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  19. Joseph

    This should be a political poll, stop kidding me! A typical Republican wants Obama on the hook for the spillage, while a typical Democrat believes the president is more than active. As for me and my like minds, Obama has impressed us beyond comparison. I can no longer be impressed than his effort to make BP pay for their mistake.
    Ask any Nigerian from Niger-Delta, you will understand the good deal Obama won for the victims of the current oil spill. Only a second relief well can stop the gush. Not Obama, not the wisest of the Republicans. Nada! Therefore, Obama, Thank you for your good leadership. I am more than committed to vote you in for your second term.

    June 17, 2010 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  20. BeverlyNC

    How sad we have Americans who are so ignorant and so eager to blame the one person who showing exceptional leadership, holding the real entity, BP, accountable for this disaster and moving all resources into place as needed!

    President Obama did not cause this spill, BO did.
    President Obama did not deregulate the oil industry so they could run wild doing as they pleased with no oversight – REPUBLICANS DID.

    President Obama is cleaning up another REPUBLICAN mess due to their idiotic corporate-loving, corporate-bribe taking policies. BLAME the REAL greed-oriented slimeballs for this disaster – BP and their buddy REPUBLICANS.

    Ask why Dick Cheney personally appointed all OILMEN to run the govt regulatory agency, MMS, and then the corruption and safety violations began???

    June 17, 2010 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  21. MAT

    I cant believe Im seeing people blame Bush for Katrina and in the same breath defending Obama. Look, we all know the truth. Bush could have stopped Katrina if he wanted to. Apparently all the libs believe he is that powerful and mighty. They just know with Obama you have to lower your expectations.

    June 17, 2010 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  22. Wisconsinite

    If the Bush/Cheney REGIME was still in charge, the tax-payers would be paying BP 20 billion!

    June 17, 2010 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  23. Rick McDaniel

    Well, at least he seems to have finally gotten the message, and gotten off his duff.

    June 17, 2010 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  24. Lionhart

    From reading these posts it makes me question the validity of this poll as most people on this post think president Obama is doing all he can.

    June 17, 2010 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  25. jim

    Obama shouldn't be above 20%.

    There will always be the Kool-Aid drinking nimrods that think he is doing a good job.

    Even as he destroys the country

    June 17, 2010 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
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