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. nic

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

    Are you stupid? Did you not see yesterday's news? And exactly what the f is he supposed to do? If the private sector doesn't have the technology to stop or contain this thing, then why would the government? The govt is a magical fairy that can swoop down and solve every problem....

    Obama's played this perfectly. Unfortunately, you're too much of a radical to see that. No other president would have gotten what he did out of BP yesterday.

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

    I give the republicans and their drill spill kill and nuke campaign a zero percent approval rating. They deregulating the safety standards and this is the result. No Shutoff valve and a big bonus for BP executives. The Republicans are fine with destroying the planet as long as their shareholders received fancy stock dividends. This is all Bush's fault and his party. Obama always has to fix the right's problems which is why he hasn't done anything but.

    June 17, 2010 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  3. elaineb

    Cap and Trade puts profit into the green movement. I should think Republicans, who are always looking for a new way to make money, should be in favor of it.

    June 17, 2010 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  4. Trythefacts

    Keep it up with the stupidity of the blame game. The democrats do not have a solution they just blame the actions of others. Where is the feds massic group in the ENERGY Department????? I guess like most federal people, just getting a huge pay check.

    June 17, 2010 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  5. Sorensen

    Obama is getting confused and insecure. The fake display of
    authority tells it all.
    No wonder. He is getting the worst possible advice.
    Axelrod, Emanuel and Jarret are screwing everything up. They are
    the ones, who should cover his back and prepare the road forward.
    They are not capable of doing that, and they should be replaced
    immediately. They are great and old friends of Obama, and that is
    wonderful and totally irrelevant.
    This is the destiny of the american people at stake.
    Get on with it Obama. Stand up, kick some ass and take command.
    A lot of people know, you can do it.

    June 17, 2010 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  6. Tony 140

    The money is not the KEY here but I grant you that he did get the money – as any "good" lawyer could have with this type of open-and-shut case against BP. Holder could have done this. The two BIG items are 1) shutting off the leak and 2) the clean-up. He is failing and flailing miserably at both – and this is why we hired him – to deal with crisis. Please forget the politics and the unions and get the Gulf cleaned up. Bring in every resource that the world has offered us and start sucking up that oil as fast as we can. Try everything from pantyhose to burning. Damn the EPA and the Jones Act. Be Presidential damn-it. Show the people in the Gulf that you care – really care. Yes the money will help – but what the people on the Coast need to know is that their government really cares about them. Just watch Bobby Jindal and you will understand.That's what they need most now

    June 17, 2010 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  7. Susan

    I definitely don't know what more he could do to stop the leak! If "big oil", BP, scientist and the like can't figure out how to stop the gusher, than how can people expect Mr. Obama to stop it.

    June 17, 2010 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  8. Joe

    BP offer to pay 20billion dollars for compensation. President Obama even mention it in his speech. Now the 64million dollars question, how, and where people going to get some of BP money for their loses or clean-up effort?. Will Obama arrange a commitee to oversee the transfer of funds, or it is going to be another Katrina, where the money was there but no one to distribute it among the people that needed it. P ersonaly out that 20billion they will probably see less that half of it. Red tape and bureaucracy is taking over, BP is out of it, and Obama said they are paying for it. Now every one is out expect the one that expect help.

    June 17, 2010 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  9. Chuck

    Let me see, CNN, MSNBC, AND FOX have been lying about Obama every day since the spill happened. And his poll numbers are down!
    The news media is siding with the Jindal's who were saying drill-baby-drill. What very poor journalism!!!

    June 17, 2010 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  10. Bret

    Goodbye Obama, out in two years!

    June 17, 2010 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  11. Peter s

    What do American really want? Since President Obamas' inauguration the public have been mislead by so called political conservatives alias pathological liars . Their main goal is to gain power even if it means destroying the whole Nation. Please, folks remember from the pharaohs of Egypt to the sel-regarding thugs of ancient Rome to the glorified warlords of medieval and absolutists Europe, in nearly every urbanized society throughout human history, there have been people who have tried to constitute as an aristocracy. These people and there allies are political conservatives. Just ask yourselves why do they reward former drug addicts?. It just for a simple reason to psychologically relate with the common people, manipulate their minds and spread the sense of " they are better than the rest"!!

    June 17, 2010 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  12. nic

    "Where the surprise in this..............an earthquake in Haiti and the world rushes to help."

    You're comparing apples to oranges, which isn't surprising considering the current inability for so many ppl to process logical thought. What you and your ilk are completely failing to realize is that we CAN'T do anything about the oil spill, other than what we're currently doing. The fed govt doesn't have the capacity to plug a lieak a mile under the surface of the ocean, nor does private industry. Meanwhile, we COULD do something in those other scenerios, as we do have the capacity to respond to traditional humanitarian crises.

    June 17, 2010 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  13. MARTY, AL

    CNN is the new Fox News, Anderson Cooper and Wolf has become Sean Hannity and Bill O. Everyday they put anti-obama southerners on TV, like the Parish President complaining about what the Coast Guard and Govt is not doing. He should slow down on the fast food, stop running his big mouth and help pick up some oil himself and maybe he might loose a few pounds.

    June 17, 2010 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  14. Rena

    I find it interesting that Republicans argue for small, limited government. Yet, every chance they get, they blame the government for not doing anything! I'd hate to use the Hypo-word, but sure sounds like it. Based on your beliefs, Obama should be doing nothing and BP and free enterprise should be taking care of this, so stand by those beliefs and lay off Obama. I think you have it backwards, his supporters don't expect him to be 'The Christ', you guys do.

    June 17, 2010 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  15. Erin

    Just wondering why no one is questioning how BP is supposed to come up with 20 billion dollars for this fund. They only have 7 billion. Hmmmm an educated person would be able to see this agreement automatically puts BP into bankruptcy. But then again we also are trying to believe BP will be the ones to pay for the cleanup. Just all parents actually take responsibility to feed, cloth, and provide for their children right? NOT in the good O' USA! Middle class America loses again. ;(

    June 17, 2010 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  16. CHAOS10

    I do love my oil. Everything runs on it. I think we should be drilling in more places Alaska/land/ocean. I had rather make Americans rich as opposed to Saudi/Iraq/middle eastern people. But, having said that shouldn't there have been someone prepared ahead of time for accidents like this. Not just the oil companies but also our government or a private business just for situations like this. You can't really blame Obama, just like the natural disasters and or accidents that have happened in previous adminstrations. They are usually surprises that catch us a nation off guard. Then we see what needs to be done and get it taken care of. Through trail and error, patience and persistence we as a country will find a way through. That is what we are about. How have you helped.

    June 17, 2010 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  17. VAVoter

    Wow! He's TOO harsh on BP, and in next breath...He's TOO soft on BP. He can't be both...The bottom line is Americans are jaded and pessimistic. And almost invariably default to the most negative, defeatists option. They are chronic bandwagonners and pretty much tow the line with whatever they hear on tv, radio and what other people they know say. I STILL have not heard ANYONE say EXACTLY HOW the President could have done anything different to stop or clean up the oil spill given the information and resources that were available at any given time.

    June 17, 2010 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  18. Mike

    it took 2 month to start the hearing.
    Obama likes to hear himself speak, doesn't do much else.

    June 17, 2010 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  19. HR

    Not surprising that the great Obama is failing in the polls – he is not a leader – he looks good, reads the teleprompter well and lies like a good politician – people are now seeing what many saw before he was elected – Obama and his Chicago gang will soon be exposed for what they really are!

    June 17, 2010 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  20. Victim of GOP Taliban

    Yes every single day CNN seems to post a "new" poll about the approval of oil spill. Obama himself would say he doesn't approve because the well is still leaking. Enough of the games – even ClusterFox admits nobody knows how to cap the well that deep in the ocean.

    June 17, 2010 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  21. Michael

    I voted for Obama and totally regret it. He is worse than Carter, and I'm voting all republican in November, as I'm done with the Democratic party.

    June 17, 2010 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  22. Johnny C (Los Angeles)

    First off, the President did not WOW me with his speach the other night ... one of his worst speaches and it did not address or point out the flaws within the government that will probably never be corrected.

    The ability to get BP to cough up $20 Billion is a good start. However, one needs to remember that these companies make more profit in a year than most countries and they will survive. They are throwing out a bone to console the US.

    My problem with the President's speach is very simple ... if it is Obama's goal to help and assist these families, then dammit, do it. The government is willing to come forward with 17,000 National Guardsman to help ... do the math ... what an insult to the region and it shows how little government cares. This would probably equate to 8 people per stretch of beach mile to clean up. That is absurd and undoubtedly will have zero significant impact. This is the primary reason why he is not getting an "attaboy" for his action plan.

    I cannot understand why a government that hires approximately 600,000 Census workers to validate two questions cannot come up with a better plan. If you really want to help this region out ... offer to pay $15/hr to another 300,000 people to work the coastline and spread them out around those communities to clean up, repair, and spend money to keep the small businesses alive that are being affected as well. This would only cost the government $300 million in manpower costs (non-government workers). Put these workers in large tent cities for a few months, provide them with the necessary resources (tools/plants/clothing, etc.) and throw some real manpower and money at the situation.

    My god, the government spent 14.5 Billion on that census to ask two questions ... how many folks liver here and what race. The government needs to realize that they are the problem here ... if they even spend 50% of that putting people to work in the region to clean up and rebuild the environment (mangrove trees for example) then I would be greatful for Obama's efforts. The above aforementioned plan to get 300 thousand workers involved is only 2%. Just get the workers out there and leave government oversight to a small percentage to keep overhead costs down. It makes one curious as to how much overhead costs were with respect to the census doesn't it.

    At the moment, President Obama is blowing smoke up everyone's keester because they have been slow to react and I personally do not think that they have the talent to assist ... it will take an army of people and alot of effort. It would also be better if the heads of these activities were not lawyers and real "touch" workers. Obama is just very fortunate that the citizenship of America is kept naive.

    June 17, 2010 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  23. Annie, Atlanta

    When things go wrong we blame the head guy. It's in our DNA. But I cannot blame our President for this one. I can't even blame the last President, though his belief in deregulation didn't help. This is BP's fault, and greed is to blame. Get it done quicker, leave a few steps out, cut some corners, and there you go.

    I do blame the government, and Republicans specifically, for creating an atmosphere where corporations are allowed to self-regulate and write the laws, which rarely benefit people and eco systems. These corporations are destroying life on earth in the name of money. Our lives mean nothing to them. Where do you think birds and fish are on their list?

    Check out the US Rep, Barton, apologizing to BP for the 20 Billion escrow account, covered earlier on the Ticker. This disgrace is our fault. We need to pay attention. Find out how these people think; what they represent, BEFORE you vote. If we don't, we deserve the scum we get.

    June 17, 2010 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  24. Lisa - VA

    CNN..Seriously. I am beyond words.

    June 17, 2010 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  25. KG

    I wish someone could ask the wildlife what they think of BP and the President. He needs to take charge with military action. The oil is spreading now to the Keys and then beyond. How much more needs to leak and spread before we start fighting with everything we have. A few shrimp boats burning oil and random people on beaches is not solving anyting-althoughI for one am thankful for any help. Where is our military??

    June 17, 2010 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
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