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. Ally

    Big business and corrupt politicians are running this country it is all about ther power and creed and all the members of congress and the senate on both side to need be voted out of office because both sides are not willing to work together and don't care about his country or the people in it and that is why we are in the situtation we are in. I don't think any of us would want to have deal with everything Obama is having to deal with right now. Until people really start caring about one another has human beings and try to help one another things are only going to get worse.

    June 17, 2010 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  2. supervoid

    So we're supposed to believe that deregulation is good and government oversight is bad... and now somehow the government is expected to magically fix this overnight? Using who's money? BP's? Tax money? Are we capitalist or socialist? A lot of the same voices that say that government's role should be limited to the power of a gnat are pointing fingers at the government for not having this fixed even though the oil experts cannot fix it utilizing massive profits. So which is it? Do you think government should have a role in protecting the environment against free trade run amok? Or do you think BP and Disney will get together and capitalize on this accident by turning the gulf into a tar pit theme park? Capitalism is inherently destructive and must expand to survive... this is just a typical consequence of greed and short sighted benefits for people that won't live to see all of the consequences. Freedom without responsibility is chaos.

    June 17, 2010 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  3. john, new mexico

    The radical liberal/progressive agenda. That's a good one. I haven't heard it yet. Do you know what progressive means? I am all for progress. If you call being pregressive, or attempting to progress the state of our nation, radical then please, by all means, find a nice big sand box and stick your head in it. You've obviously already got your head buried some where, why not stick it in the sand.

    June 17, 2010 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  4. StevieT

    For those of you who are blaming the President for the oil spill? You are idiots! The blame for this spill rests entirely on the shoulders of BP…as is their out-right lies about the amount of oil actually spewing from the leaking rig.

    But for those of you who are making excuses for the Presidents actions since the oil spill…you too are idiots! I cannot get over all these moronic posts from people asking, “What is our poor President to do?” Wah…wah…wah. You’re probably the same people who were blasting former President Bush following Katrina.

    #1 the Administration turned down the help of the Dutch government to provide ships outfitted with oil skimming booms (along with a plan for building sand barriers to protect the marshlands) just days after the explosion. #2 His Coast Guard (yes…his Coast Guard) is still getting in the way (as of yesterday) of approving much-needed skimming boats waiting to be deployed to help with the clean-up effort. #3 In an almost unconscionable failure to act, the President still has not granted a waiver of the Jones Act, which has prevented the worlds best cleanup ships (owned by Belgian, Dutch and Norwegian firms) to enter U.S. territory. Someone in the White House please wake up!....this is Day 59 for God’s sake!!! As an aside, Bush granted waivers to the Jones Act just days after Katrina. #4 The President’s failure to even contact the CEO of BP until weeks after the disaster started…and did not have a meeting with BP executives for ALMOST SIXTY DAYS after this disaster started!!! Inexcusable!!! Perhaps if he had done this sooner, he would have learned that BP was lying about it’s initial estimates! #5 To add insult to injury for these poor people living and working along the Gulf coast, the President imposes a moratorium on continued drilling that members of his own party who represent those states are calling a mistake that will costs 100,000-plus jobs and help damage an already ailing U.S. economy. #6 The President still has not moved hundreds of ships available to him to help with the disaster…and the company Packgen (based in Maine) is still waiting for approval from the government to move more boom out to the coast. Packgen estimates it could manufacture 42,000 feet of boom per day if given approval.

    The list could go on…but you should get the picture by now. WAKE UP ALL YOU OBAMA ENABLERS!

    June 17, 2010 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  5. Anonymous

    polls polls my professor who taught me statistics stated if you believe pols like these you'll believe anything.
    Did Obama cause the oil spill
    color and race is to blame that is all color and race cos I don't know what they expect him to do.
    Now did George Bush show as much care during katrina one guy on Tv said he should have been there the next day. Why cos Obama is Mixed.

    people the man is trying

    June 17, 2010 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  6. ja

    the oil drilling policies in place are antiquated, what is the pres to do siphon it himself, exxon, shell and all are subject to same results, send the oil lobbyist home and give the campaign money back both, the fault is square, past pres, DNC, RNC, and the oil companies

    June 17, 2010 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  7. NObama

    I am sick to death of people making excuses for Obama. If this were the Republicans, you all would be flipping out over this. Obama lacked experience and should've never won this election and all of you who voted for him are going to watch as more and more money is taken away from your pockets. His healthcare scam is a joke and will only raise premiums (wasn't his stance that reforming healthcare would stop the premiums from rising?) because he never fixed the real issues with it. I particularly enjoyed the poster who said Obama did a better job with this oil spill than Bush with Katrina... are you kidding me? Yes, BP is at fault but we are waiting on the government to bring help in to assist with this mess and Obama has done NOTHING. Let's face it, he was put into office for one reason and yes, you all hate to admit this because it's such a taboo subject but he was put in to make history – the first black president. No one can say anything bad about this guy without having Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton ranting "racism". But guess what.... alot of US BLACK people think he's incompetent too. Yeah, I'm BLACK.

    All Obama is good for is complaining about what Bush did. Instead of taking responsibility for his own actions (putting the country into excessive debt, more than any other adminiistration), he sits there reading his monitors and brainwashing all you stupid people into thinking everything going on now is still the fault of Bush. Stupid... do you even realize that it was Clinton who changed regulations regarding off shore drilling? Oh that's right, you only nod your heads when Obama speaks and lack the brains and reading comprehension to pick up a newspaper or research it yourselves.

    The other people who wanted Obama in are those who want to mooch off of society and blame everyone. As an intelligent BLACK MAN, I can make my own way, my own career and my own money.

    June 17, 2010 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  8. Wisconsinite

    How about if we start pulling together as a nation in this time of the biggest environmental disaster in our history and try something new . . . . SUPPORTING OUR PRESIDENT!

    June 17, 2010 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  9. Michael

    Plug the hole with Obama's teleprompter! Oh wait, it is not waterproof.....Exactly- Obama is not GOD but the state-controlled media and you moronic people who voted for him portrayed him as such!!! How's this working for you now with unemployment at 10%, a leader who bows everywhere-surprised he hasn't hit his head on the floor or someone hasn't kicked him in the butt- and is remaking this country into a European Socialistic society!

    President Hussien Obama does not have the constitutional authority to force BP to put $20 billion let alone any money into a reserve fund- once again we have Democrats wanting to change the rules from the $75 million cap signed into law in 1990- just like they want to get their own liberal candidates for the Supreme court who legislate from the bench. America is TIRED and horrified at what Obama and his Deomcratic cohorts have done to this country. When my kids see President Hussien Obama on TV they think he looks like a monkey- I think he looks more like a Socialist or enemy of the United States!

    June 17, 2010 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  10. Scott FL

    Republicans and BP= best friends forever

    June 17, 2010 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  11. Truth

    I don't know where to start with the stupidity of the people in this poll and everyone's outrage at Obama. Its so draining its pathetic you people are sub-human in intelligence and the ability to give a guy a fair shake. Who cares if you lose Obama you lost doing the right thing. Sarah Palin even said when she was governor they had to set up a Petroleum truth commision. That sounds like regulations. In the same instance she turns around and says Obama doesn'tt need to check the safety on the wells he's stifling job creation. This is absolutely ridiculous in so many way.

    June 17, 2010 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  12. SocialismBad

    Yeah, but Obozo sure can talk a lot and give good teleprompter speeches. After all, that is what is trully important. Being able to actually DO ANYTHING is far too overated.

    Hurry, November 2010 & 2012! I'm not sure we'll survive until then....

    June 17, 2010 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  13. leftyavenger

    Obama is a mediocre president and is not doing what the left voted him in to do. On the other hand the Republican plan has shown itself to be drill spill kill and nuke. Obama is certainly not as advertised or as the kids say not all that and a bag of chips. The Republicans are all that, totalitarian police state fascists who are totally right wind and wacko.

    June 17, 2010 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    Was it accidental or purposeful that the writer spelled out the number disapproving Obama's performance and typed the number disapproving of BP's performance? I know it doesn't matter a whole lot, but subtleties like this can make a difference in peoples reaction to numbers.

    June 17, 2010 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  15. annie s

    Jeff in Virginia, thanks for being a voice of reason. From day one, the public assumed that this President had a magic wand – and the media has done an outstanding job of representing all of his actions in a negative light. The White House has been fully engaged in this disaster from day one and has done an excellent job given the circumstances.

    June 17, 2010 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  16. Ferret out the BS

    I have followed this disasterous event from its beginnings and I have always questioned why the locals, including the local politicians, didn't take matters more into their own hands.

    The companies doing the drilling actually should've been more prepared to handle a catastrophic failure such as this but they were'nt and who's fault is that? The President's? The Congress? Certainly the agency, MMS, had a role but they were largely inneffective for various reasons and it cost money, manpower, and time to keep the disaster plans up dated, as well as technology, and equipment current.

    It seems there is this constant reliance that either the corporation or the federal government would jump in and come to the rescue. At the beginning, no one knew what the magnitude of this event would be or that it would continue today. But yet the finger of blame keeps pointing at the president for lack of action.

    Get real, he didn't cause the disaster, but he is marshalling resources to help mitigate it, and he's gotten a committment from BP to put $20B in trust for compensation and he still gets slammed.

    Certainly resources are limited to help contain the oil but they are getting there, it takes time. Work to contain the oil rather than expending the energy to place blame.

    June 17, 2010 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  17. Ask Rep Barton (GO[B]P - Texas) Why He Apologized To A Foreign Corporation

    Barton has received big bucks from BP and he grovels before Tony Hayward, begging forgiveness because Obama got BP to cough up 20 BILLION to help this disaster.

    Barton is a traitor

    June 17, 2010 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  18. Texan

    Those blaming the President have no suggestions on how to better handle the matter. That is, with the exception of Rep. Joe Barton of Texas. His party, being in the hip pocket of big business, thinks an apology is due to BP for the $20B "slush fund."

    Barton said he doesn't want to live in a country where anytime a citizen or corporation does something wrong, they're subject to political pressuer that amounts to a shakedown. Well Mr. Barton, being a fellow Texan, I'll use my hard earned dollars to buy you a ticket to get the hell out of the country as soon as possible.

    And while slamming the President, where is Sarah Palin in all this? Wasn't she the governor of Alaska, until she quit to become a rock star? And doesn't that state have something to do with oil? She took credit for a $40B pipeline in Alaska during her brief period in office. She is, as we all know, an experienced executive. With all her experience, where are her suggestions on the BP issue??? Guess she's too busy working with her writer on a response to her purported breast augmentation.

    June 17, 2010 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  19. Mary Zoeter

    Obama deserves to sink in the polls. He has turned out to be one huge disappointment. This is coming from a person who spent four Sundays pounding the pavement for him during the 2008 campaign.
    Instead of demanding that Americans sacrifice by cutting oil consumption, he reiterates his support for oil companies in general. Has the man no vision? But then again, he is a politician. I guess that answers my question.

    June 17, 2010 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  20. hmmsketch

    "It's all Obama's fault! He's supposed to stop us from trying to stop him from trying to stop BP from not trying to stop the oil spill!" - the GOP

    June 17, 2010 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  21. Samantha

    I think he should make a rousing "Independence Day" speech, only this time, invite the aliens back to utilize their superior technology to stop the leak and clean up this mess. That would actually be more productive than anything Obama has yet done, which amounts to blaming everyone else and failing to incite the necessary imagination, committment and resources required to find a solution.

    Welcome, aliens.

    June 17, 2010 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  22. Brandon

    After two days people were basically accusing Bush of blowing up the levees himself. It's been almost two months that oil has been gushing and Obama is "talking tough" so all is right in the world. There has never in the history of the world been such a gaggle of hypocritical oafs as we now have with the Democratic Party. Shame on you.

    June 17, 2010 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  23. J in Minnesota

    Obama turned down assistance from 6 other countries that offererd to help.

    It took Obama 11 days to officially respond to the oil disaster.

    Just two of the many missteps of this president during this crisis.

    June 17, 2010 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  24. karen

    He had no intention of meeting with the head of BP. As his chief of staff said, never let a good disaster go to waste. His speech was rehtoric it had no answers!!! He mentioned cap and trade for gods sake , get your agenda across at all costs. Look at congressman Waxman today, the first thing out of his mouth was cap and trade. We had to wait a month to get barriers put up for Governor Bobby Jindel!!!! We could have been burning some of this oil off from the start as well as our protecting our wetlands. Forget this partisian fighting and look at the man and what he is not doing. Be him democrat or republican it does not matter look into the man.

    June 17, 2010 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  25. Sanjoy

    Thank you, thank you...people are FINALLY seeing the light and the truth. This guy is WAY over his head. Can those of you who voted for this guy imagine Hillary Clinton handling this crisis in such an unprofessional and inexperienced manner? Time to ask this guy to resign.

    June 17, 2010 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
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