CNN Poll: Plurality say Obama's policies will likely fail
December 29th, 2010
09:52 AM ET
12 years ago

CNN Poll: Plurality say Obama's policies will likely fail

Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama enters the new year with a growing number of Americans pessimistic about his policies and a growing number rooting for him to fail, according to a new national poll.

Full poll results [pdf]

But a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Wednesday also indicates that while a majority of the public says Republican control of the House of Representatives is good for the country, only one in four say the GOP will do a better job running things than the Democrats did when they controlled the chamber.

Sixty-one percent of people questioned in the poll say they hope the president's policies will succeed.

"That's a fairly robust number but it's down 10 points since last December," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Twelve months ago a majority of the public said that they thought Obama's policies would succeed; now that number has dropped to 44 percent, with a plurality predicting that his policies will likely fail."

The survey suggests that Obama's ace-in-the-hole remains his personal popularity. CNN poll numbers released last week indicate that 48 percent of all Americans approve of how Obama is handling his job as president, but the new survey puts his approval as a person at 73 percent.

When the new Congress convenes next week, Republicans will gain control of the House. According to the poll, 51 percent say GOP control of the House is good for the country, with 42 percent saying it's bad for the nation.

But only 26 percent say the Republicans will do a better job running the House than the Democrats did, down seven points from early last month, right after the midterm elections. Twenty-two percent say the GOP will do a worse job than the Democrats, with a majority saying there won't be much difference.

Four in ten say they have more confidence in the Republicans in Congress than in the president or the Democrats in Congress. Thirty-five percent say they have the most confidence in Obama and 15 percent feel that way about the Democrats in Congress.

"If history is any guide, the coming year will see a three-way tug-of-war between Obama and both parties in Congress. That's what often happened in 1995 when Bill Clinton was in the White House and Newt Gingrich was Speaker," says Holland. "If that occurs, the poll suggests that a majority of the public would not back any side."

Thanks in part to the tough economic times, an angry electorate, and an energized Republican base, the GOP made a net gain of 63 seats in the House in the midterm elections, the biggest shift in the chamber since 1948. Republicans will hold a 242 to 193 majority in the House when the 112th Congress convenes next week.

Just over half of those questioned say they have an unfavorable opinion of outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, with 34 percent seeing the California Democrat in a favorable light. Her favorable rating is up eight points from just before the midterm elections, when she was the focus of a fierce Republican attack on the campaign trail.

Thirty-six percent say they see incoming House Speaker John Boehner in a favorable light, with 24 percent saying they have an unfavorable opinion of the Ohio Republican and four in ten unsure. Boehner's favorable rating is up 11 points since just before the midterm elections.

Voters are divided on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, with one third holding a favorable opinion of the Nevada Democrat, one third saying they see him in an unfavorable light and one third unsure.

Thirty-two percent say they have a favorable opinion of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, with one in four holding an unfavorable view of the Kentucky Republican and 43 percent unsure. Democrats will retain control of the Senate, but with a much smaller majority, as the GOP picked up a net gain of six seats in the chamber in the November elections.

Even though Sen. Jim DeMint played an influential role in the midterms, seven in ten say they are unsure of their opinion of the Republican from South Carolina.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted December 17-19, with 1,008 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

- CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report

Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @PsteinhauserCNN

Filed under: 2010 • John Boehner • President Obama
soundoff (34 Responses)
  1. Scott S.

    Why would anybody "hope" that the President's policies fail? Regardless of who the President is, whether you voted for him or not, you should hardly be hoping for failure. If you don't think his policies are going to succeed, that's one thing. But hoping they fail, where failure would mean the country remains in poor shape? That doesn't sound very patriotic to me.

    December 29, 2010 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  2. Indie Woman in Denver

    Apparently too many Americans are starting to bellieve the lies the Repubs have been spouting since President Obama's election. It's not Obama's policies that are the problem, it's the Republicans playing partisan politics at the expense of the middle class that's causing the economy to stall.

    December 29, 2010 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  3. Dave

    You don't have to root for him to fail; he is doing it on his own.

    December 29, 2010 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  4. paul

    Somebody better tell McConnell and Boehner about the poll. They have been bragging that they received a "mandate" from the public in the November elections. To them, that means we will do what ever the hell we want to do and say, "The American people have spoken".

    December 29, 2010 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  5. FDA

    "A growing number want Obama to fail" What are those people thinking. We should never want any president to fail. Failure of the President is failure to our country. Even the Antichrist Sean Hannity said during the Bush invasion of Iraq, "regardless of the presidents policies, he is your president and we should all support him, because he is our commander and chief" Those that think the "republican controlled congress will be better", must have very short term memory loss. The republicans had control for eight years leading up to the meltdown of our economy. During that time we were attached on 9/11, Did the very least to protect our boarders! More people entered our country during that span than any other time. Started two unpaid for wars that did nothing to impeded our enemies, but further corroded our reputation world wide. The conservatives in this country have set us back decades, all in the name of patriots! This president has said he wants to move to the center to help resolve our problems. The conservatives have responded by saying they are going to launch investigations into every aspect of Obamas presidency. From his birth place, to health care, nothing will get done in the name of progress. Whom ever breaks from the right, and moves to the center for the GOP will be the next serious contender for president from the GOP side.

    December 29, 2010 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  6. America Shrugged

    You know what, I'm sick of the angry electorate. We have a bunch of crybabies who want everything their way or no way. Obama has delivered on 80% of his campaign promises and you still have democrats PO'd at him and claim he hasn't delivered. You have the GOP on the other side, wanting Obama to slash n burn everything at the expense of the working class and poor. Here's a clue, he's not a GOP and he's not a liberal, he's a centrist, always has been and that is basically what he ran on. During hard economic times, government has to do the spending necessary to keep this economy going. Still have a decent 401K left? Thank Obama and Dems. Still have SS and Medicare to depend on? Thank Dems for keeping the GOP from dismantling it. Are you eligible for HC insurance even though you have a pre-existing condition? Thank the Dems and Obama. People don't read or study up on our history and think what Obama has been doing is something brand new. Had we had a booming economy, Obama would be asking congress to cut budgets. Reagan did nothing different, in fact he deficit spent, raised taxes, changed our Healthcare (HMOS) and became one of our most popular Presidents. Read or listen to FDR's fireside chat on April 14 1938, and you'll see the message FDR was delivering is just as relevent today. Want to find out what's really in a bill, go to Thomas Law, that's where they archive them. There is no excuse for willful ignorance when we have the internet to look these things up. Did anyone see any Media coveragge of Tea Party protests when Obama was going to sign the extension of the Bush tax cuts? Nah, didn't think so, there weren't any. Wonder why?

    December 29, 2010 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  7. purnellmeagrejr

    What can turn a mouse into a man? Propaganda. Cut throats into saints? Propaganda. How do you get poor dumb white folks to vote for millionaires and against their own best interests? You guessed it. Propaganda.

    December 29, 2010 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  8. welches, oregon

    It just seems very un-American to want Your President of Your Country to Fail.

    December 29, 2010 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  9. Four and The Door

    Most people who are paying attention can see that what's missing in Obama's Administration is a plan and the accompanying leadership to stir up any passion in the country for that plan that doesn't exist. There is no plan for getting the economy turned around or for creating jobs. However, the Republicans certainly do have a well defined plan for both of the above and we are seeing much stronger leadership from the Republicans John Boehner in the House and Mitch McConnell in the Senate to execute that plan. When the Administration goes along with their plan for getting private industry to grow and bring the accompanying jobs into the economy good things will happen. It is encouraging.

    December 29, 2010 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  10. Mace

    Obama's policies have pulverized an already fragile economy and I don't see any of his policies helping. The GOP policy if keeping taxes low that he agreed upon in order to have a chance to be re-elected will definitely assist in the outlook and the economy. Overall I do not have any confidence in Obama's ability to lead our country in the right direction but am pleased we have a GOP congress – divided governent has spurred the most growth in the last 25 years.

    December 29, 2010 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  11. Peace

    If Pres. Obama policies will fail he has to blame himself. It seems folks believe what they hear. He did not sell his policies as he did during his 2008 campaign. Instead those on the right sold theirs. It is really funny that whatever is sold to people regardless how bad it is or meaningless it is, will be bought anyhow. On this occasion the right with the help of Fox News played their part in a remarkable way!

    December 29, 2010 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  12. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    If you don't like the policies of the president, then offer new ones and show where you get the ideas. I would like the country to be a place of ideas. We have lost a bit of ourselves because we have pundits tell us things. We don't do enough looking ourselves (I mean indivdual citzens). I would like to see more corporate responsiblity and the wealthy giving more to charities that take the pressure off state governments. I see that happening now as much as Gingrich calling socialism the greatest way of helping the planet - not happening.

    December 29, 2010 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  13. Liars

    We can get so nationalistically worked up to go fight a war we shouldn't but when it comes to feeding, educating, and reducing the suffering of our own people. The American public is a global disgrace.

    December 29, 2010 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  14. QACoach

    "...and a growing number rooting for him to fail..."

    This is the most bizarre and unbelievable scenario I can imagine regarding a US President, i.e., that "people" actually root for him to fail! Do the idiots not get it...if he fails, we fail?

    December 29, 2010 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  15. Robin

    People actually think the Republicans will be good for this country? Are they insane? The Republicans are the ones who got us into this incredible mess in the first place! The willful amnesia of the American people is incredible, especially since the evidence is available on video and in print. This country will probably never recover from what the Republicans have done to us and I'm beginning to believe we don't deserve to recover. America has become a joke.

    December 29, 2010 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  16. sapper1recon

    Who would of thought that the Liberal media would give such ratings to their Messiah.CNN poll!!!LOL

    December 29, 2010 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  17. Liz the First

    But a poll the other day showed Obama's ratings going up!!! enough with these dumb polls! the only thing they show most of the time is how many people don't know squat about what's going on and how many just blow with the wind and have no real position on anything. no wonder our country is in such bad shape. a disinterested, uninformed public makes bad decisions in the voting booth or stays home altogether. the result of that will be the republican house, which will insure nothing gets done for the next two years.

    December 29, 2010 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  18. here we go again

    Good policy is good policy, of course the conservatives want "O" policies to fail, but they are a small minority now only 30%. As a country we have to stop playing "us against ya'll " America is so diverse now and its CHANGING so do the POLICIES.

    December 29, 2010 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  19. PalmReader

    The depth of the questions asked in this poll are equal to Keating Holland's enlightening analysis of the polling results - both the questions and the analysis conveying little of importance.

    December 29, 2010 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  20. Riley

    His policies are a disaster....AND SO IS HE!

    December 29, 2010 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  21. Dave Harris

    As usual, what the people say they want makes no sense at all. Why would the Republican 40% want the economy to fail, for more people to lose their jobs and be denied medical care, for crooked banks and insurance companies to continue ripping people off, for the wars to go on forever? Clearly, they want Obama to fail (because he's black?), but do they really want to go down with him?

    December 29, 2010 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  22. Toni Stinchcomb

    Just watched results of poll regarding failing policies. Helena (?) I think her name was stated the poll asked "Do you WANT Obama's policies to fail. The poll on screen read "Do you THINK Obama's policies will fail. Is she just an idiot or what. That is absolutely a difference in the question as night and day. So what was the real poll? No one asked me, but I HOPE Obama's policies succeed but I don't THINK they will because of bias of the "conservatives". Quotation marks used because there is no such thing. They just want to be conservative on issues introduced by Democrats. They want a lot of government involvement on issues they are interested in.

    December 29, 2010 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  23. T'sah from Virginia

    FUZZY NUMBERS – that's what these polls are showing!! How could "...51 percent say GOP control of the House is good for the country..." and then the poll says, "...But only 26 percent say the Republicans will do a better job running the House than the Democrats..."??????????????

    Please ask the right questions and ask the right people!!

    I will support our current leader, President Obama, as he continues to MOVE AMERICA FORWARD!!!!

    December 29, 2010 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  24. KatR

    Sixty-one percent of people questioned in the poll say they hope the president's policies will succeed.
    And the new GOP Congress believes that the majority of Americans want the president's policies to fail. The next 2 years are going to be very interesting as well as historic. Don't count on Obama to follow the exact same path Clinton did back in 1995. Remember Obama campaigned on "change".

    December 29, 2010 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  25. once upon a horse

    ok so it's good the Republicans won, but they probably don't think they'll do any better than the Dems did. Doesn't this just show how confused the voters in this country really are and how disconnected they are? You put the group back in power that got you in the fix in the first place even though you don't think they'll do any better than the ones you voted out. DUH!!!

    December 29, 2010 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
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