CNN Poll: Obama's approval rating edges up thanks to foreign policy
May 30th, 2011
04:34 PM ET
12 years ago

CNN Poll: Obama's approval rating edges up thanks to foreign policy

Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama's performance on national security and international affairs and his image as a strong leader appear to be behind his rising approval rating, according to new national poll conducted as the president was on an overseas visit to four countries.

Full results (pdf)

A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Monday indicates that Obama's approval rating among Americans stands at 54 percent, with 45 percent saying they disapprove of the job he's doing as president. Obama's approval rating appears to have steadily risen in the past two months, from 48 percent in early April to 52 percent in early May and the current mark of 54 percent.

Listen to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer CNN Radio's Bob Costantini discuss the new poll numbers:

"On specific issues, the president's approval rating is over 50 percent on only three out of 11 items tested, and all three - terrorism, Afghanistan, and Iraq - are foreign or security issues," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "But his approval rating on every domestic issue listed in the poll is well below 50 and on most of them - including the economy, health care, taxes, and the budget deficit - his rating has remained flat or dropped since the start of the year."

Only one in four says they approve of how the president is handling high gas prices. And the survey indicates that six in ten think that things are going badly in the country today. So why has Obama's overall approval rating risen to the mid-50s?

"Clearly Americans are responding the president's foreign policy credentials, an advantage that is magnified every time he goes abroad. That was a common pattern for previous presidents as well, even those who entered office with an ambitious domestic agenda," adds Holland.

The killing of Osama bin Laden by U.S. special forces at the beginning of May also helped give Obama a bump in his approval ratings, with most of that change coming from two key groups - Republicans and senior citizens.

"Obama's overall approval rating among independents and Democrats is virtually unchanged since late April, but among Republicans it is up 12 points, to 27 percent," Holland says. "That 27 percent sounds pretty anemic, but it's Obama's highest approval rating among Republicans in over two years."

The same pattern holds among age groups. "Bin Laden's death has not made much difference in Obama's approval rating among people under the age of 65, but among senior citizens, positive views of his track record are up nine points, to 51 percent," Holland adds.

According to the poll, the president also gets a boost from his personal qualities, as has been the case since he first set foot on the national stage. Fifty-eight percent of Americans say he inspires confidence; 57 percent call him a strong leader.

And although the public gives Obama low marks on domestic issues, it appears they believe his heart is in the right place. Six in ten say that Obama cares about people, and 55 percent say he shares their values - the highest mark Obama has received on that measure since the "honeymoon" period in the months following his inauguration.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted May 24-26, with 1,007 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

Filed under: CNN/ORC poll • Polls • President Obama
soundoff (73 Responses)
  1. elrey

    I'm neither for or against Obama, but if foxnews is pro-gop, then anyone can appreciate that CNN is highly pro-obama. Every time there is an article about the president, all I see are great supporting comments, but on GOP articles, all comments are rude and uneducated

    May 30, 2011 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  2. Mollybee

    Obama/Biden 2012!!

    May 30, 2011 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  3. Kelly

    Ay Peter, Sarah Palin is more competent than President Obama is like saying that a 4 year old is more competent then you. Going by what you are saying, I'll put my money on the 4 year old. Palin is and always will be known as a quitter. She chose book deals and fame over finishing her term as governor a job I have no idea how she got. People in Alaska must be just as dumb as you.

    May 30, 2011 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  4. The truth

    Totus for President: So what does Obama do to commemorate this most solemn day as our Commander-In-Chief?

    Apparently you missed the news coverage of President and Mrs. Obama hosting a breakfast for the Gold Star families (those who lost relatives serving in the military) and the president laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns and visiting the section of Arlington cemetery reserved primarily for those service members killed in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    May 30, 2011 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  5. mary

    Up 27 points with Republicans? I rather DOUBT IT!

    May 30, 2011 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  6. jd wolff

    He was at my local kroger giving a speech in my hometown of bristol va.he seems sincere and i honestly believe hes trying his best.

    May 30, 2011 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  7. Stand Up's a CNN Poll. Obama is a one term President, thank goodness!

    May 30, 2011 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  8. Realist

    Bailouts for banks saved economy from ruin and goby fully repaid

    Auto bailouts save auto industry and goby on target to be fully repaid

    Steady job growth for one year

    Dow from 6500 to 12500, retirement accounts starting to regain value

    It takes time to fix a mess, if you don't see he's doing that than there is mo convincing you. Luckily you don't need more than just over half to understand(depending on electoral college breakdown) to keep us on the right path

    May 30, 2011 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  9. Seattle11

    TOTUS FOR PRESIDENT: Where have you been? The President spent time overseas building important relationships, came home and visited the tornado stricken areas/families, then did attend Memorial Day events. What this means is that he did not even take a single day off. Stop lying to yourself. If you are going to dislike a person, at least be honest with yourself about why you dislike them. Don't be afraid to admit it to yourself. Those feelings and the misguided emotion behind them are not a crime.

    May 30, 2011 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  10. Seattle11

    What incometent domestic policies? If he were to have skipped that trip and stayed here, you would say he was avoiding those responibilities.
    Sarah Palin is more competent? How did she prove this to you? She has not had a job in some time. Throwing darts on FOX does not prove competence. If it does prove it to you, I would suggest that there is something wrong with the method by which you are measuring.

    It is comical how so many people who do not have half the intelligence or guts that the President does, are so sure that he is incompetent.
    Please keep in mind that he walked into this mess. Don't blame the guy who paints your home because the siding is not balanced. Go back to the guy who sided the house.

    May 30, 2011 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  11. louis

    Its hurts to say it but this man makes carter look like a amazing president !
    Obama is a joke his foriegn policy's are a joke the economy is still 6 feet under the guy is in waaaaaaaayy over his head but hey we asked for change and that's what libya is about change from bush! This is a scam the guy is a loser

    May 30, 2011 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  12. Anonymous

    Just Imagine if Sarah Palin had been a Democratic Governor(God forbid) and quit her job. Do you think people would be raising her to the level she is at today? She went from practically living in a trailer to buying a million dollar home in Arizona. Who thinks she is going to give up making this kind of money? She is a quitter, an instigator and divider. Great stuff to be a president? I don't think so. Palin couldn't win in 2008 with a well known partner, who thinks she is going to win on her own dismal record in 2012?

    May 30, 2011 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  13. Name chris lund

    I am hoping President Obama gets a second term. The damage to this country under the neocons has been so great it will take a full two terms to correct the selling out of our middle class that occured. By the former commander-in-thief from 2001-2008. We are only now just beginning the recovery.

    May 30, 2011 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  14. Name Rick Marts

    Memorial Day and all I hear is Sarah Palin. Are people rally that stupid?? Guess so! Boycott Stupidity!

    May 30, 2011 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  15. ila

    I had and have faith in our President !!!

    May 30, 2011 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  16. Chaz


    Bring Palin on! If she could should survive the Roast at Repub presidential debates, Obama would certainly Toast her. She's a Quitter, a value disclosed when she quit her duties as Governor. And, her foreign policy experience is limited to looking over the horizon and make insane comments of having foreign policy experience because Alaska is close to Russia. What a joke.

    May 30, 2011 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  17. dannyboy pedroza

    Been saying this all along when he was down in the polls. If a major event took place like Osama bin laden then he is a shoo in for re election. That's why the GOP is so upset binladen was killed. He was killed under obamas watch.

    May 30, 2011 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  18. Matt

    You people on the left why don't you pick up your tounges up off the floor...Gas is still over 4 in LA, food prices are killing us this memorial weekend and yet the CNN crowd still see him in a favorable light, face it there is nothing this clown will do to lose the love of the idiot left..

    May 30, 2011 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  19. pjatruro

    As always, I stand with this president, whom I am proud to call MY president.

    May 30, 2011 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  20. coloradoDem

    I am so proud of my POTUS and FLOTUS they are all about class and leadership.

    obama/biden 2012

    May 30, 2011 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  21. bb

    You'd think after 8 years of Bush and Cheney, the American people would appreciate a better quality of president than we had under their administration. Good going, Obama. I haven't regretted waiting in line 3 hours to vote for you in '08 for one day since then, and look forward to voting again for you in 2012.

    May 30, 2011 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  22. Marla

    It's about time that the American people start realizing that our President is doing everything he can and doing most things right. He should not be blamed for the roadblocks that the GOTP in congress keep putting in his way.
    I do wish that one of those polls would call me. As a progressive, intelligent, well-educated president, he definitely represents me and my values.
    OBAMA/BIDEN 2012

    May 30, 2011 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  23. starx11

    The dems on here are very funny. You praise the president for his increased poll numbers that are a result of the continuation of Bush's policies on Irag, Afganistan and terrorism. You then ignore all Obama's low poll numbers from his policies and handling of the economy, budget, healthcare, gas prices, medicare and taxes.

    Obama's poll numbers won't last, sorry.

    May 30, 2011 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
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