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. Anonymous

    Its very difficult to believe the media when they report only what they are told. I believe most Americans still believe there was more of a coverup than what we read...

    November 27, 2012 06:51 am at 6:51 am |
  2. ankenyman

    Perhaps most peope don't see a cover up is because the liberal media, including CNN, covered it up! The media largely ignored the story to protect Obama before the election.

    November 27, 2012 06:52 am at 6:52 am |
  3. wright1914

    Forget adultery, why can't people understand that while his men were out dying, he and the Marine Corps general were busy writing and transmitting thousands of emails to their paramours. Such actions don't pass the smell test. It stinks.. I remember when I was a young army captain thirty years ago and had spent about three weeks in the field with my men with no shower or running water when I found out the 'old Man' and the senior staff flew into basecamp for a shower and hot meal. Such an example of poor leadership was never lost on me. If your men can't enjoy, you can't enjoy. It really is that simple. Seems as if Petraeus el al have forgotten this basic kernal of leadership.

    November 27, 2012 06:53 am at 6:53 am |
  4. clarke

    it is easy for people to say it could of been prevented, but none of us were there as an eye witness. As far a the General goes, I beleive he could still do his job. IMHO

    November 27, 2012 06:54 am at 6:54 am |
  5. Maria Rivera-Carvalho

    Americans need to get the facts. McCain and company's misinformation campaign should not be taken as facts.

    November 27, 2012 06:55 am at 6:55 am |
  6. Trajk Logik

    For the sake of consistency, it would have been very important to know if those that agree with Petraeus's resignation also agree that Clinton should have resigned, and vice versa. This would have let us know if the people polled are consistent with their positions, or if their answers are based on subjective, biased political party positions. If the latter is true, this whole poll is meaningless.

    November 27, 2012 06:57 am at 6:57 am |
  7. aCriticalEye

    The Bengazi attack was an unraveling mess, orchestrated by opportunists. I personally do not understand why the USMC was not there for security. The Gen Petraeus issue is a different matter. A person holding one of the very top security clearences can no longer be trusted when a lack of judgement is discovered. Once your clearence is gone, most likely you are gone.

    November 27, 2012 06:59 am at 6:59 am |
  8. Jack Young

    'Americans are giving the White House low marks for how it's handled the terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi '. Come on CNN the Obama admin is either inept in their handling of this incident or they purposely misled the public. I can't believe they were inept. They watched these good men (our Ambassador and those who tried to help him) die and then stone walled the public.

    November 27, 2012 06:59 am at 6:59 am |
  9. Dale

    This is a massive cover up, four people are dead ; a leader takes responsibility for his failures and gives credit for his success. A community organizer hires people to take responsibly for his failures and take takes all the glory when things work out.

    November 27, 2012 06:59 am at 6:59 am |
  10. Don P

    Still dont agree on no cover up. Talking points aside (bad excuse, Rice can't say that was all she knew). However, the BIG question is why was security pulled out beforehand. Read LTC Woods testimony. The administration still has not answered the question.

    November 27, 2012 07:03 am at 7:03 am |
  11. rand

    Americans may not see a cover up but what they DO see is an administration that denied requests by the Ambassador for more security prior to the attacks AND an administration that should have pulled these men from the Consulate long BEFORE 9/11, especially considering all OTHER country's had LEFT................. long before that fateful day.

    November 27, 2012 07:04 am at 7:04 am |
  12. Don P

    As for Petreaus, so what, let him fade away.

    November 27, 2012 07:04 am at 7:04 am |
  13. Trajk Logik

    But leave it to CNN to not ask the important questions to make themselves more objective and legitimate. Why does the media leave out so much information, and not ask certain questions that need to be asked. I watch the news media frequently and I'm always asking more questions during an interview or report that aren't being asked. This is why the internet has become such a big source for alternate sources of news, so that the rest of us can fill in the gaps that the mainstream media leaves out. The only problem is that most people don't do this. They watch or listen to one or two sources and that's it. This is why we have the dumbest electorate in the world. Those that like to bash a certain news organization, like FOX, just expose their own biases and ignorance. ALL news media organizations are biased and have a position to push. That's why you have to watch both sides and compare them with reason and logic. The only way to achieve and open mind is to criticize your own beliefs and positions, not those of others.

    November 27, 2012 07:04 am at 7:04 am |
  14. Reggie

    Wow wake up people. All the intel shows that the military was aware of terrorist actions from the beginning. That people actually think the WH statements were "accurate from what they knew at the time" are blinded.

    Consider: During the debate Obama claimed he referred to the attacks as terrorism the day after. But yet they allowed WH personnel to freely claim it was a "reaction to a anti-Muslim video" for a solid week without rebuke.


    November 27, 2012 07:06 am at 7:06 am |

    Obama should strip Petraeus of his rank and send him back as corporal to Helmaland Province in Afghanistan.

    November 27, 2012 07:08 am at 7:08 am |
  16. Obama is a liar

    Obama lied like a rug in his Benghazi scandal and most sane people realize that.

    November 27, 2012 07:10 am at 7:10 am |
  17. cjmar2k

    I think it should require a Super-Majority to conduct any business in the Congress. Find a reliable poll (ha) and if 60%> want something; i.e., investigation, increase taxes, reform the tax code. Congress has become ineffective in the last 10 years. We need to find a way to get them to work for US – I mean hell, that is what they are up there for!

    November 27, 2012 07:12 am at 7:12 am |
  18. acdcguy

    The only ones that don't see a cover up are the ones that are truly blind to this President and his administration.......they can do no wrong.....

    November 27, 2012 07:12 am at 7:12 am |
  19. Al

    Another flawed poll by the little czars CNN

    November 27, 2012 07:14 am at 7:14 am |
  20. Al

    Your boss Obama is a corrupt president. It will evendually come to light. You CNN are aiding the enemy !!

    November 27, 2012 07:15 am at 7:15 am |
  21. JerPell

    Congress must tie the hands of Obama for the next 4 years,,,grid lock is the only option with this guy!

    November 27, 2012 07:16 am at 7:16 am |
  22. mike

    LOL, nice try CNN too make things seem all nice and neat. Lets get real. Benghazi was a cover up we all know it and the W.H. put the screws too Petraeus about his affair. It's just so odd how all that came out about his affairs right when he was going too testify. The great part is he still testified and told them that it was a terrorist attack. Hey, CNN take a poll on how many seen Elvis at a Sonic eating a hot dog about you will have your "most have" voting there also. CNN, what a tool! lol

    November 27, 2012 07:16 am at 7:16 am |
  23. jpl

    Has it occurred to you the reason the general public doesn't see it as a cover up is you failed to do your job and investigate it? When the answers change that much in two weeks something was wrong, you just failed in your job to investigate it. When U.S. news outlets fail they're no better than Pravada was 20 years ago.

    November 27, 2012 07:16 am at 7:16 am |
  24. EdwardTr

    Could it have been prevented before it started, like additional security staff? Yes, but almost everything can always be prevented and almost every embassy requests more security staff. Was there a spin afterwards? Yes, there is always a spin in politics and there is always going to be a spin. Could it have been prevented after the attack started? Maybe, but we also could have had this headline: “Rescue Helicopters Fly into a Trap; More Than 20 Americans Dead”. There is also the issue that the ambassador did not want a large military presence in Bengazi, but even mentioning this by either side is a political suicide.

    November 27, 2012 07:19 am at 7:19 am |
  25. SharpMind

    If there's no threat to the country due to his actions, they don't need to waste resources and money to investigate. Let's move on and let him deal with the situation at his home.

    November 27, 2012 07:22 am at 7:22 am |
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