June 17th, 2013
06:00 AM ET
9 years ago

CNN Poll: Obama approval falls amid controversies

Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama's approval rating dropped eight percentage points over the past month, to 45%, the president's lowest rating in more than a year and a half, according to a new national poll.

The CNN/ORC International survey released Monday morning comes as the White House has been reacting to controversies over a massive U.S. government surveillance program; the Internal Revenue Service's targeting of tea party and other conservative groups who applied for tax-exempt status; the administration's handling of last September's attack in Benghazi that left the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans dead; and the Justice Department's secret collection of journalists' phone records as part of a government investigation into classified leaks.

The poll indicates that for the first time in Obama’s presidency, half of the public says they don't believe he is honest and trustworthy. And Americans are split on the controversial National Security Agency anti-terrorism program to record metadata on U.S. phone calls, but they support the NSA program that targets records of Internet usage by people in other countries. That doesn't mean they necessarily like what is going on: Just over six in 10 believe that government is so large and powerful that it threatens the rights and freedoms of ordinary Americans.

A slight majority of those questioned in the poll, which was conducted Tuesday through Thursday of last week, disapprove of the actions of the man who leaked sensitive information about the NSA program. A similar number say Edward Snowden, who fled to Hong Kong, should be brought back to the United States and prosecuted.

What the approval drop means for Obama

The president's approval rating stands at 45%, down from 53% in mid-May. And 54% say they disapprove of how Obama's handling his job, up nine points from last month. It's the first time in CNN polling since November 2011 that a majority of Americans have had a negative view of the president.

"The drop in Obama's support is fueled by a dramatic 17-point decline over the past month among people under 30, who, along with black Americans, had been the most loyal part of the Obama coalition," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

The president also dropped 10 points among independent voters, from 47% last month to 37% now, with Obama's disapproval among independents jumping 12 points to 61%.

What's behind the drop?

"It is clear that revelations about NSA surveillance programs have damaged Obama's standing with the public, although older controversies like the IRS matter may have begun to take their toll as well," adds Holland.

Details on NSA-thwarted plots coming, lawmaker says

Six in 10 disapprove of how Obama is handling government surveillance of U.S. citizens, which is higher than the 52% who disapproved of George W. Bush on the same issue in 2006, when government surveillance was also in the headlines.

Obama's approval rating on terrorism, although still above 50%, has taken a 13-point hit since mid-May. By contrast, his approval rating on domestic issues such as the economy, immigration and the deficit only dropped by two to four points, within the poll's sampling error.

Views of Obama's personal characteristics have also declined.

The number of Americans who think he is honest has dropped nine points over the past month, to 49%. Fifty-seven percent of those questioned say they disagree with the president's views on the size and power of the federal government, and 53% say he cannot manage the government effectively. Fifty-two percent say the president is a strong and decisive leader. That's still a majority, but it's down six points from last month.

Cheney defends NSA, calls Obama's credibility 'nonexistent'

Forty-three percent of the public says that the Obama administration has gone too far in restricting civil liberties to fight terrorism, with 38% saying the administration has been about right and 17% saying it has not gone far enough.

"That's roughly the same reaction that the public had to the Bush administration in 2006 when the details of a similar program to gather phone records were made public," says Holland.

Fifty-one percent say the current NSA program to gather phone records is the right thing to do. By comparison, 54% felt that way about the Bush-era program back in 2006. Two thirds say they feel that the current NSA program on Internet usage is right.

More than six in 10 say the government has collected their phone or Internet data. What is the government doing with all of this information?

Just 8% of all Americans think the government has collected their personal data and is using it to investigate them. Just over half say they think the government has collected their data and stored it somewhere without analyzing it, and one third say they believe that government has not collected and stored any of their personal phone or Internet records.

WH: Obama not violating privacy; Snowden's whereabouts unknown

As for Snowden, 52% disapprove of his actions, with 44% saying they approve of the leaks by the former government contractor. Fifty-four percent say the government should attempt to bring Snowden back to the U.S. and prosecute him for his actions.

Documents Snowden provided to journalists revealed the existence of the secret NSA programs to collect records of domestic telephone calls in the United States and the Internet activity of overseas residents. Snowden, who fled to Hong Kong, was fired from his position at the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton earlier this month. The FBI is investigating the leaks.

The poll was conducted for CNN by ORC International June 11 to 13, with 1,014 adults nationwide 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 (1,117 Responses)
  1. Logic N LA

    Wait a couple days. This will change. Americans are fickle.

    June 17, 2013 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  2. faboge

    i think the tea party has succeeded in putting doubt in America's minds about him. Thats what they wanted all along just before the midterm and I think they have played their cards right. Not that they are right about the Pres.

    June 17, 2013 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  3. Bluegrass

    And I don't approve of half the American public I deal with on a daily basis, so.....?? lol

    June 17, 2013 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  4. LiberalJoePlumber

    Obama can bounce back. I hope he can get the Declaration of Independence changed so he can run a third and fourth term.

    June 17, 2013 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  5. Patrick Tamim

    I understand the need for national security and protecting our country, but giving the government cart blanche to wire tap everyone is unthinkable.

    June 17, 2013 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  6. WayToGoObama

    Quick drones blame Bush or label him as the "lesser of two evils" admitting that you acknowledge and supported "an evil". You can never defend Obama on his own merits ever.

    June 17, 2013 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  7. just sayin

    What's behind the drop?

    the lsm actually doing their job and covering stories, even if they were not favorable to their hand picked, media backed president. they covered for him as long as they possibly could, but when it was revealed obama and his lackey eric holder were even going after reporters and the ap, they finally got a wake up call. will they stay awake? time will tell.

    June 17, 2013 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  8. CNN User

    Now people are just realizing he's a liar?

    June 17, 2013 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  9. BarryG

    Is this 50% of the Dems? Since 100% of the GOP did not favor him or his performance the last 5 years.

    June 17, 2013 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  10. Bitter Truth

    How could his approval rating have gone down? I voted for this Snake twice. (OK...throw the rotten tomatoes...I deserve it.) Can you possibly have a negative percentage of approval? As the NSA and other "alphabet agencies' get more powerful and intrusive, we'll see if it's possible.

    June 17, 2013 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  11. george

    this just can't be true. the kool aid drinkers are loosing faith in dear leader?

    June 17, 2013 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  12. Silent Majority

    It's about damn time!

    June 17, 2013 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  13. James

    Obama worked very hard to get his low ratings–Lets all give him a hand–

    June 17, 2013 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  14. Vik100

    He made a pact with the devil when he decided to promote the slaughtering of unborn babies and also promote gay marriage.. therefore HE MUST GO!!

    June 17, 2013 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  15. austinkeith

    Thes poll numbers only surprise me in that almost half of America still belives in this "Hope & Change" mularkey. Afterall, this President was awarded a Nobel Peace prize for doing absolutely nothing upon his 2008 inauguration and it's been nothing but downhill since and his crowning achievement(Obamacare) is going to be a disaster.

    June 17, 2013 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  16. Namelinda jewel

    I don't believe obama has ever been for us. He is insensitive to our saftey.he is more interested in the imports & money transfers to Asian countries. He does not care about the well beings of america's health or finances as long as it does not interfere with his own..

    June 17, 2013 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  17. Greg

    Fifty-two percent say the president is a strong and decisive leader. That's still a majority, but it's down six points from last month.

    Why the "but". It's down six points. Big deal. CNN just had to add the "but".

    June 17, 2013 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  18. Jeremy B

    who cares, he does not worry about being reelected...

    June 17, 2013 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  19. Anonymous

    The radical right wing Faux controvery effort has been largely successful. Similarly, the do-nothing radical right wing Repubs have also been successful in, well, doing nothing in Congress. No effort to create jobs bills, no effort to stop the sequestration that is having deleterious effects on services, etc., etc. etc. Instead, they have spent millions of tax payer dollars on 37 fruitless attempts to repeal Obamacare.

    Wake up America! and see beyond the propaganda being spewed forth from the radical right wing!

    June 17, 2013 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  20. codepink1908

    "CNN Poll: Obama approval falls amid controversies".......LOL; WHATEVER CNN POLL
    .....GREAT GAME SPURS!!!!!!!!!!

    June 17, 2013 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  21. jim

    Funny, the guy has seemed like an arrogant, out of touch jerk since Day One.

    June 17, 2013 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  22. Tom1940

    As Sarah Palin would ask: "How's that "hopie changie" stuff workin' out for you now?" (I just love that woman's talent for "nailing" exactly the right phrase about the trials and tribulations of the Obama Administration.

    June 17, 2013 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  23. Adam

    Where's your messiah now??? I'm not making a Republican case here, I'm a non-declared registered voter, I vote for who I think is going to do the best job. But let's face it, they are all politicians and they all say whatever they can to get into power. Besides, what does he have to lose at this point? He got his second term and he just has to ride it out. He can do what he wants as long as it's not illegal and doesn't get him impeached.

    I wish that there was a real chance that we would get a government that really listened to the people and really had the people's intrests at heart, but I don't think that day will ever come in my lifetime. They are all in it for themselves and their intrestes and their buddies and their pockets.

    June 17, 2013 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  24. Ribidit

    Imagine where Romney's approval rating would be....can you say "in the toilet"?

    June 17, 2013 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  25. Frost

    lol, wait.... no responses? it would seem like the liberals on CNN are upset about this.

    June 17, 2013 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
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