CNN Poll: Obama ranks low among recent incumbents
November 15th, 2011
12:07 PM ET
11 years ago

CNN Poll: Obama ranks low among recent incumbents

Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama's overall approval rating remains in the mid-40s, where it has been since July, and he continues to receive much higher marks for foreign policy than for domestic issues, according to a new national survey out one year before he is up for re-election.

A CNN/ORC International Poll released Tuesday indicates that 52% of all Americans approve of how the president is handling the situation in Iraq, an indication that Americans tend to favor Obama's decision to withdraw all U.S. troops from that country by year's end. Forty-eight percent of those questioned approve of how he is handling the war in Afghanistan. By contrast, only 35% have a positive view of his economic track record, and just 38% approve of how he is handling health care policy.

Full results (pdf)

It all adds up to an overall 46% approval rating for the president, with 52% saying they disapprove of how Obama is handling his job in the White House.

"That's par for the course for Obama, whose overall approval rating has been hovering in the mid 40s in every CNN poll conducted since June," CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said.

In comparison to recent incumbents running for re-election, Obama's 46% approval ranks above only Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford - who both lost their re-election bids - in November of the year before an election. Most incumbents who were re-elected had an approval rating above 50% a year before the election. But George W. Bush, at 50%, and Richard Nixon, at 49%, also won re-election, and Bush's father George H.W. Bush had a 56% approval rating yet lost to Bill Clinton the following year.

"Translation: while the approval rating is an important indicator of a president's strength, it is not a foolproof predictor of election results," Holland said.

See how Obama's number stack up.

The poll indicates that the standard partisan divide over the president remains, with three-quarters of Democrats giving Obama a thumbs up but only 15% of Republicans approving of the job he's doing in office. By a 54%-42% margin, independent voters disapprove of how the president's handling his duties.

Women are divided on how Obama's performing, but men disapprove by a 55%-43% margin. White Americans give Obama a thumbs down by a 61%-36% margin, with non-white Americans give the president a thumbs up by a more than 2-1 margin.

The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International from November 11-13, with 1,036 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.

Also see:

Newspaper editor defends Cain interview

Cain stumbles over Libya

Gloria Cain: I never believed allegations were true

soundoff (169 Responses)
  1. James

    The results of these polls is misleading at best. My own approval rating of Obama is low, but IMO he's still far better than the alternatives that have been presented so far, so unless something changes drastically I'll vote for him again.

    November 15, 2011 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  2. Pete

    Numbers, 46 percent is a pretty large number of our populace. Is it a majority? No, but when you look at what was given to him on day one. Just imagine that ditch he described your car being in, the headwinds he had to face, especially after the midterm elections. I implore you all to read outside your idealogical boxes.

    November 15, 2011 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  3. Phil in KC

    Well, workers do have the right to collective bargaining under the law, so I guess it's a good thing he supports the law. I don't understand how anyone could be against collective bargaining. Oh, wait – yeah – that's so the rich keep getting richer and the poor keep getting poorer. So we can eliminate the middle class and become a 2nd world nation.
    When were we at our greatest as an economic power? When did we enjoy the highest standard of living? When the unions were most powerful. When work practices were fair and even-handed. It is no coincidence that, as unions have gone down-hill, so have working conditions and our economic standing in the world.

    November 15, 2011 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  4. jack squatt

    Obama needs to be thrown in Jail for fraud.

    November 15, 2011 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  5. Doc M

    Most of us understand who continues to stall the economy and it isn't Obama. The magical thinking by GOP followers is crazy making. They blame Obama for everything under the sun; it's pretty entertaining but getting kind of boring. The GOP needs to take their nutjob candidates and step aside and let people who give a crap about this country move forward. Obama will win a 2nd term.

    November 15, 2011 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  6. Supa

    Keep drinking the Obamaland CoolAid people. Obama is an America hating communist muslim liar

    November 15, 2011 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  7. jack squatt

    Listen to Obamas speeches he never really says anything concrete. All generic phrases that mean jack squattt.

    November 15, 2011 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  8. DumbasRocks [R]s

    "Collective Hijacking"

    Oh, I'm sorry. I thought I was on a thread about the 2000 presidential election......

    November 15, 2011 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  9. jack squatt

    Obama thinks Hawaii is in Asia what a mor on

    November 15, 2011 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  10. Bill

    God's approval rating is only 52%, so Obama's is not too bad.

    November 15, 2011 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  11. Rudy NYC

    Al wrote:
    His numbers are actually pretty high considering all the good that he's done, for example Solyndra, over 600 MILLION DOLLARS gone down the drain.
    Your credibility is highly suspect.

    Everyone except the right wing blogosphere knows that the actual figure is just under $500M, that the program that enabled Solyndra to get the funds was created by Bush, that the Bush administration first selected Solyndra for application to the program, and that the Bush administration had approved Solyndra as participant in the program. The people running Solyndra were life-long Republicans.

    Stimulus funds were used to pay for, and expand, the program begun under Bush. The companies in the program that failed to meet expectations were those chosen by the Bush administration.

    November 15, 2011 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  12. bb

    I'm amazed at how many posters here are hoping for failure just to further some sort of us vs. them game they're playing in their heads.

    Do yourself a favor, people. Base your decisions on hard data, not an a.m. radio daily talking point. You are all too obvious. Too much is at stake to treat our nation like some backwoods football game.

    Fact is – Obama is NOT the worst president this country has seen by far. Obama did not cause the '08 economic collapse. Obama did not commit our country to 2 unfunded open-ended wars, financed by the Chinese. We did not go into a DEpression because of Obama. In fact, he brought us out of the hardest recession since the Great Depression. He saved the American auto industry, and private sector jobs have been gaining for over 2 years now.

    November 15, 2011 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  13. jack squatt

    Canada is going to sell their oil to China now , Thanks Obama... 20,000 jobs gone. I thought we couldn't wait anymore?
    Oh thats right were waiting until after the election.

    November 15, 2011 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  14. cony 007

    Jack squatt if Obama needs to be thrown in jail for fraud then the Bush Crime Family need to be sent to the HAGUE for war crimes against humanity.

    November 15, 2011 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  15. cony 007

    The reason why the country is divide is because we are still an extremely racist country.

    November 15, 2011 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  16. Chuck

    Hey Doc, It is Obama and his policy that continue to stall the economy. How soon you forget that the Dems had the House, Senate and POTUS and still here we are. Also, they still controll 2/3 of our government and you want to blame Republicans. Nice try, Obama loses in a landslide and deep down you all know it!

    November 15, 2011 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  17. Julnor

    Just who are these 46%? What rock have they been living under?

    November 15, 2011 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  18. Cin

    As an independent voter, I cannot see me voting for any of the republican candidates. Obama's got this in 2012, no matter what Nate Silver says.

    November 15, 2011 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  19. Lonewolf

    When it comes 2012 elect all new whos running. CLEAN HOUSE They all have to go. Elect all indenpents. It can't get any worse.

    November 15, 2011 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  20. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    @ Debbie:
    You keep baiting that hook Deb, we ain't biting!lol!

    November 15, 2011 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  21. Independent

    Love our President, and he will be re-elected.

    November 15, 2011 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  22. DumbasRocks [R]s

    That's right Debbie, don't vote for the guy that came in 1st in the last presidential election and saved the free-world economy from the second [R]-caused depression in the last century. No, instead vote for the guy that came in 10th in the grueling world of pizza corporations, whose biggest draw to you pinheads seems to be that he'd like to try to inflict on us again the same [R] failure that almost led to an economic depression 3 years ago.

    If you are black, you are the dumbest black I've ever heard of. If I were you, I'd stick to the emotion because at least your heart was once fuller than your skull is now.

    November 15, 2011 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  23. Sam

    The dem have the majority and didn't care about job. All obama cared about the health bill. Now all he does is play the blame game of everything not being his fault. Obama is all big talk with little results. He never get involve with the debates on bills until the last minute and then take credit for bringing both side together.

    That what I hate about him. He never gets his hands dirty and have other people do his work for him.

    The first two years he could of made a difference and he blew it.

    November 15, 2011 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  24. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Is he agreeing with Scott Walker and removing collective bargining? I don't think that did anything for the budget. Or is he saying that he is willing to be tough with those public employees who are covered by unions? It is baffling as to what Cain believes. I wish it would be clear.

    November 15, 2011 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  25. Jaun in El Paso

    It is mind blowing that the Republicans are called obstructionists and are berated for blocking Obama agenda. They do the same thing when there is a Republican in the White House! I guess liberalism is a nice unreality to live in where the double standard is only considered a double standard when it goes agains them.

    November 15, 2011 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
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