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. Al-NY,NY

    so much for the GOP's latest attempt to discredit and remove their nemesis. keep trying's fun to watch you twist in the wind

    November 27, 2012 08:07 am at 8:07 am |
  2. OldMo

    The attack lasted 7 hours, the WH refused help, lied about the cause of the attack and BOzo went to the UN (get used to that folks) to make an assault on the 1st Amendment and say, "The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam." Why would any be dissatisfied? Move along folks, nothing to see here.

    November 27, 2012 08:07 am at 8:07 am |
  3. fblove

    "While most Americans don't like the Obama administration's handling of the Benghazi attack, they do not see a cover-up," said the sinners to the conservatives and Christians, hoping one day there would be no one but sinners left who were okay with disobedience to God of any kind, including child rape.

    November 27, 2012 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
  4. Tak

    "...those inaccurate statements reflected what the White House believed to be true at the time."

    Then there is something to be very seriously worried about... You'd almost wish there had been a cover-up!

    November 27, 2012 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  5. Ken

    I'm one that believes the administration handled the Benghazi situation poorly, I also believe it was 'swept under the rug" for political expediency (i.e. the elections). But hey, who am I to argue with a CNN poll.

    As for Petraeus I still like the guy and what he has done for this country.

    November 27, 2012 08:13 am at 8:13 am |
  6. Big Kahuna

    Unless you got your head buried in the sand, its clear that there was deliberate coverup by the president's administration in how the Benghazi Attack was portrayed – it was purely political to protect the presidents reelection chances. If this attack was portrayed as a 911 Anniversary Attack as it should have been, then it would have jeopardized the presidents slim 1-2% lead in the battleground states and cost him the reelection. The president may not have been involved, but his staff sure was.

    Theres one problem with dividing the country to win relection, it's usually still divided afterwards. You folkes at CNN could serve the country better if you would just report the facts and get your collective heads out of the president's ass. Quick giving the president a free pass on everything and ask the hard questions.

    Anybody that leads from behind is pretty worthless as a president and leader of the free world.

    November 27, 2012 08:13 am at 8:13 am |
  7. Matt

    All of the evidence points to misleading. Too many people blindly follow this administration.

    November 27, 2012 08:13 am at 8:13 am |
  8. Pinewalker

    Wow imagine what the polls would say if they had actually been informed about the situation and the media didn't withhold info. No one was reporting on this until after Petraeus resigned. Its a sad time in American Journalism

    November 27, 2012 08:14 am at 8:14 am |
  9. Tsimbi

    Could CNN be any more in the tank for Obama?

    November 27, 2012 08:14 am at 8:14 am |
  10. Rick McDaniel

    That is NOT is Democrats.

    Americans know there is something fishy about the Benghazi affair......and we want the truth about the lies over Benghazi.

    Petraeus, is another matter, but being subject to women using their seductive skills, has ALWAYS been a reason to lose security clearances.

    Why that wasn't more serious, with Clinton, is a very good question!

    November 27, 2012 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  11. Sadie Boyd

    There were far more attacks on embassies during the Bush years...this was highlighted due to the election. A horrible thing happened. We are all forgetting that money was requested for security and blocked by Boehner. Boehner needs to go along with all the obstructionists who pledge their allegiance to Norquist instead of the flag that represents the people of this country. The Tea Party has created a horrible divide in this country, where people are more concern about "there side" than the whole of the United States and our territories. It is the perfect time to allow the embittered rascists to have their own country, secede Texas and take all the hate with you!

    November 27, 2012 08:21 am at 8:21 am |
  12. Charlotte

    Honestly, I would hope that most of the public would understand that we are not in a position to even have an opinion on Benghazi, since we do not have all the facts. All we have is what the News organizations (or entertainment organizations, in the case of FOX) have selected to present to us. Even quality outliets like NPR don't themselves have all the facts and therefore cannot communicate them fully to us. Thus – we really don't know enough to have an opinion that's worth reporting on.....

    November 27, 2012 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
  13. Willie12345

    The complete and total lack of preparation for 9/11 shows some the very basic weaknesses of this administration. Until that is fully examined, it remains a cover up......... and a failure of the media.

    November 27, 2012 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  14. Thinkergal

    Of course it wasn't a "cover up". Somebody please tell Fox Noise to stop beating the proverbial dead horse.

    November 27, 2012 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  15. Sarah Reinecke

    95% of the people would believe the WhiteHouse mislead if CNN had honestly resported the story and if Candy Crowley had not inaccurately coverd up for Obama in the debate. CNN is a joke.

    November 27, 2012 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  16. Angelo

    Everybody sold out. What else is new.

    November 27, 2012 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  17. Nick-o

    That anti-muslim movie did cause quite a stir, and Benghazi wasn't the only place set ablaze by protesters. It's easy to draw a conclusion that the movie caused the attack, and whether it was or wasn't wouldn't have changed the conclusion. We were sure it was "an act of terror" but unsure if it was Al Qaeda or some other organization or just some lone nutjobs. That's how the POTUS stated it initially, and I appreciate having someone that doesn't just jump to conclusions before reviewing the investigation report.

    As for Petraeus' infidelity, that's not the president's issue, and despite Fox News' claim that he can't be questioned after vacating office, HE CAN! I'M SO DAMN TIRED OF MISINFORMATION

    November 27, 2012 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  18. displacedmic

    they don't see a cover up? are you kidding? what else do you call it?
    i'm not even a republican and that is so clearly a cover-up.

    November 27, 2012 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  19. meetings with not-as remarkable men

    Congress will do anything to deflect the fact they are a pack of traitorous people who are controlling how the money flows into their pockets and willing to make others examples ...we've seen this non-sense before.,, SAY no to any congressional investigation and don't be afraid to tell your congressman we know they are elitist, and to vote like a everyday citizen or face the highway!

    November 27, 2012 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  20. Libdumb

    Why would I believe this administration about anything more that the Dictators of Russia, Iran, N. Korea, etc. It is unreal how the leaders of our Country are self-serving. Believe me there is not a one that I would defend with my life.

    November 27, 2012 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  21. Rudy NYC

    Anyone who believes that the US military could have prevented the tragic incidents in Benghazi is living in a fantasy world. First of all, it is the responsibility of the host country to insure the safety of consulates that it is hosting within their borders. Second, someone who is determined to attack you will look at whatever defenses you have set up and adapt. Finally, the last thing the US needs is a large ground force in Libya during its' transition period, which is what Sen. McCain has been pushing for from the start.

    November 27, 2012 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  22. Common sense grandma

    Seriously? Do we honestly expect "the White House" to be omnipotent? Why do we expect them to know and anticipate everything? We do not even expect that of ourselves in all things. Ask any parent raising a teenager and they will admit it is impossible to anticipate every single thing they do. In life, stuff happens and it is not always good stuff. Maybe we watch too much television and expect things to wrap up neatly at the end of the hour. The media is helping to drive this and the politicians are using it as ammunition.

    November 27, 2012 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  23. bugmetoo

    You mean the white house told CNN there was no cover-up.

    November 27, 2012 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  24. Anonymous

    Imagine what percentage of the public would see Benghazi as a cover up if the media actually reported the story accurately.

    November 27, 2012 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  25. algorelies

    " ....inaccurate statements reflected what the White House believed to be true at the time."

    I tried using a similar statement with a Department of Public Safety trooper who pulled me over here in Texas. When he CAUGHT ME LYING..well that put me in jail.
    I suppose one has to be both dumb and a president, with a sprinkle of pepper, to lead a massive campaign to show on how Obama was not lying to cover up the fact that Al Quaeda and terrorism is STILL very much alive in the middle east in spite of his dumb ssass statements that for the supposedly-death-of-bin laden-with-no-body-of-proof story, that terrorism no longer existed. Bah!

    November 27, 2012 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
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