CNN Poll: Americans rate W.H. response to Benghazi attack and Petraeus resignation
November 27th, 2012
05:00 AM ET
10 years ago

CNN Poll: Americans rate W.H. response to Benghazi attack and Petraeus resignation

Washington (CNN) - Americans are giving the White House low marks for how it's handled the terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and the resignation of former CIA Director David Petraeus, according to a new national survey.

But according to a CNN/ORC International poll released Tuesday, a majority of the public doesn't believe the Obama administration intentionally tried to mislead Americans on the September attack that left the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans dead. And the survey also indicates a plurality have a positive opinion of Petraeus and are divided on whether the former top U.S. should have resigned as CIA director after acknowledging an extra-marital affair.

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On Libya, 54% of the country is dissatisfied with the administration's response to the Benghazi attack, with only four in ten saying they're satisfied with the way the White House handled the matter.

"But that dissatisfaction is not because Americans see a cover-up," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Only 40% believe that the inaccurate statements that administration officials initially made about the Benghazi attack were an attempt to deliberately mislead the public. Fifty-four percent think those inaccurate statements reflected what the White House believed to be true at the time."

Nearly half of those questioned (48%) say that the U.S. could have prevented the attack on its consulate in Benghazi, with 42% saying the U.S. could not have prevented the attack.

According to the poll, the public is split right down the middle on how the Obama administration's handled the Petraeus resignation, with 44% saying that officials handled it appropriately and 44% disagreeing with that view.

The survey also indicates that Americans are also split over whether Petraeus, the former four-star general who commanded all U.S forces in Iraq and later in Afghanistan, should have resigned as CIA director. Forty-eight percent 48% say that was the right thing to do; with 48% opposed to the resignation, which happened just three days after the presidential election.

"One reason that the public is split on Petraeus' resignation is that his favorables outweigh his unfavorables by 16 points," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Forty-four percent have a positive view of him, compared to just 28% with a negative view. The rest are unfamiliar with Petraeus."

Another reason the public is divided on whether Petraeus should have resigned may be that most Americans don't think that adultery should be a crime under military law, and even fewer believe it should be a criminal offense for civilians, with that number dropping since the last time the question was asked in 1997.

Just over half of those questioned (52%) say Congress should investigate the Petraeus matter, with 47% saying they should not conduct an investigation.

The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International from November 16-18, with 1,023 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

- CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report

soundoff (116 Responses)
  1. Jack Rivera

    Libya! Obama lied, people died.

    November 27, 2012 05:46 am at 5:46 am |
  2. Elle

    Most American's don't like the Obama Administration handling the Benghazi attacks? If you say so.

    November 27, 2012 05:47 am at 5:47 am |
  3. ComSenseWiz

    There is no more meat on these bones to chew on. Time to move on.

    November 27, 2012 05:50 am at 5:50 am |
  4. coffeebean02

    Wait until the next attack against America, either here or abroad, and see if we care where he sticks his private parts.

    November 27, 2012 05:58 am at 5:58 am |
  5. DT

    The White House needs to be held accountable for this and it is sad that so many refuse to believe the evidence that supports the lies and dishonesty surrounding this starting with Mr Obama.

    November 27, 2012 06:00 am at 6:00 am |
  6. Paul Brawner

    To me, legality is not the key issue in this matter, although as a retired veteran I still maintain the rules and laws for military personnel must be different. The conditions under which they operate are vital to our national defense and should not be compromised.

    To me, this is more about the ethical standards we as a society should expect of each other, but especially those we put into positions of leadership, and the degree of accountability we as a society should employ. As a society, we are traveling down a very, very slippery slope. If one is willing to violate a sacred vow to their husband or wife, then rationalize or even justify it, then it really is fairly safe to assume they will violate a trust or ethical standard towards others they do not know or to whom they are not personally connected. That is not an unreasonable expectation, and if you look around at the changing behavior in this country, you can see it is already happening.

    I do believe that as a country and as a society we are going in the wrong direction. Just to be clear, that is my view of our country's moral compass. It has zero to do with any President or political party.

    November 27, 2012 06:03 am at 6:03 am |
  7. patriot in West(by God) Virginia

    REALLY, well i knew there were some dumb people in this country and they keep proving it.

    November 27, 2012 06:07 am at 6:07 am |
  8. concrete

    Four men dead, who gave the order to stand down CLinton or obama. This is a fact who let these men die, is our commander and cheif a coward, or maybe obama can't make the hard choices.The 47% idiot voter is to bumb to sort out the facts it will be whatever their fool obama tells them it is.

    November 27, 2012 06:12 am at 6:12 am |
  9. Doug

    Can I be honest here.. Most Americans are not intelligent enough to make decisions about these articles.. Just being real here..

    November 27, 2012 06:13 am at 6:13 am |
  10. TJeff1776

    Oh, I don't believe this junk. The whole thing is so much to do about NOTHING.

    November 27, 2012 06:15 am at 6:15 am |
  11. Smoke and Mirrors

    Who cares? What the public believes about something tragic in the past is irrelevant. What is relevant is whether or not we learn from the tragedy and do something to prevent it from happening again.

    November 27, 2012 06:17 am at 6:17 am |
  12. Doug

    Like those that are judging this man are real honest folks .. REALLY ?????

    November 27, 2012 06:18 am at 6:18 am |
  13. Concerned Citizen

    Seriously CNN? Can you spin it more for Obama?? What happened to reporting the news as it is?

    November 27, 2012 06:21 am at 6:21 am |
  14. JC

    Its that the people are unable to hold this administration responsible for any of the ills of the Country. Many have put Barry Banana on a Pedestal. There is nothing more dangerous than an unwillingness to see politicians for who and what they are. I only hope we exit these next 4 years without even more significant damage done!

    November 27, 2012 06:21 am at 6:21 am |
  15. Prophet

    “First of all, give an honor to God and our lord and savior Barack Obama,” – Jamie Foxx at Soul Train Music Awards
    This is why a poll of the CNN/Obama/Messiah/Sect means only that the disenfranchised are disenchanted. You don't want to know the truth, you can't handle the truth and CNN isn't going to deliver the truth to you either.

    November 27, 2012 06:22 am at 6:22 am |
  16. gman

    So! Instead of doing research and writing an article examining the facts on the Benghazi incident, CNN conducts a poll and does a story on how the public feels about the incident. This is nothing but a piece of left wing propoganda.

    November 27, 2012 06:23 am at 6:23 am |
  17. JerPell

    The corrupt Obama administration is riddled with scandal after scandal after scandal!....The clowns of America voted for this, the world laughs at our stupidity!

    November 27, 2012 06:25 am at 6:25 am |
  18. Marie MD

    This has happened before and there have been more deaths (Marine barracks in the 80s?). The Iraq war is the perfect example of a congress willing to stand behind the village idiot for a war that didn't have to happen. i don't remember mcnasty, ms. lindsay, ayotte(sp?) going after the shrub for something started at home NOT abroad.
    These attacks are hard to predict and there's not much we can do after the fact unless you are a rethug who is still mad because he lost in 2008 and now that they can't make the President a one termer they have to cling to their hatred in other ways.

    November 27, 2012 06:26 am at 6:26 am |
  19. Brud

    Petraeus has been described as a phoney hero for a phoney war, and I fully agree. As an old soldier, he should just fade away. The country doesn't need him any more.

    November 27, 2012 06:30 am at 6:30 am |
  20. cecil

    What happened to Bill Clinton affairs, why he did not resigned?????

    November 27, 2012 06:31 am at 6:31 am |
  21. Fox

    Maybe we would get to the bottom of this if the media did some investigative journalism or asked the President tough questions instead of polling people.

    November 27, 2012 06:33 am at 6:33 am |
  22. gman

    Liberal press 'smoke & mirrors'

    November 27, 2012 06:37 am at 6:37 am |
  23. DMg_Halt

    People's personal business shouldn't have an effect on their duty to country. Keep Petraeus on!

    November 27, 2012 06:38 am at 6:38 am |
  24. GMC123

    I don't know who they polled, but they would have gotten more attention if it wasn't election time. The WH didn't want to be bothered. Maybe not a complete coverup, but they just wanted it to go away. With the reaction of obama and Hillary towards the parents of the killed, they knew they screwed up and couldn't look them in the face. Shame.

    November 27, 2012 06:44 am at 6:44 am |
  25. Sharon

    I am truly amazed that people can not see a cover up when it is so obviours.Shame on Obama for letting men who did the right thing die alone. If there is no cover up why has he not gone on the record and called them heroes?

    November 27, 2012 06:50 am at 6:50 am |
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