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. bails

    this is his second term. does he care??!!!

    June 17, 2013 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  2. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Do you think these polls will hurt his re-election efforts?????
    Do ya'?!!!!!
    Laugh clowns! Laugh!!!!

    June 17, 2013 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  3. jharry

    "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."

    They sheople are waking.

    June 17, 2013 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  4. Common Sense

    Oh no! If his approval rating drops any more he may not get re-elected!

    June 17, 2013 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  5. c.oestricher

    Trudybird, I could not agree with you more my friend. Hatred produces some of the most absolutely bizarre responses I have EVER SEEN OR HEARD in,this lifetime. This undercurrent of unadulterated bigotry and hatred for a man most of these people don't even know personally is disturbing at best. His being president has pulled the scab off of a very putrid, festering wound. Now we must endure the healing process.

    June 17, 2013 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  6. richard from rancho cordova

    @ Milky read the news that does not do there will that crap did happen and still is. keep your head in the sand while you agree with anything they say. but im a american who has a right to disagree with my Government sometimes. ps i did vote for himthe 1st time and myself the 2nd

    June 17, 2013 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  7. Steveo


    "The TRUTHFIUL will recognize this now belongs to the CURRENT occupant of 1600 Penn. Ave."

    People who say this aren't being truthful. They are being partisans, passing the buck only now that THEIR SPYING PROGRAM has been exposed. We know you cheer leading the war on terrorism and the Patriot Act long before Obama was in office. Even Dick Cheney is attempting some cya. You are all transparent!
    So I am transparent? I guess that puts me one up over on the current adminstration doesn't it?
    "We know you cheer leading the war on terrorism and the Patriot Act long before Obama was in office."

    Exactly who is "WE", you speaking for everybody?
    I say again. Bush started, Obama continued. This belongs to the current administration! Any questions?

    Speaking of passing the buck, I can't tell you how many times a negative story is run about Obama and the first thing out of your rmouth is "BUT BUSH"!

    I know full well Bush fouled up in areas. But what do you call it when those same policies have not changed even when an administration did?

    June 17, 2013 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  8. Imminent

    I laugh at anyone blindly devoted to their political party, or ANY political party. Anyone this extreme doesn't have the mentality to vote. Extreme fanaticism is never a good recipe for moving a country forward through voting. It's these very same people that embolden rogue agencies to take away liberties. Why? You give them excuses to think for you. And most of the fanatics have no idea what they do not have, or what they've given up. Government isn't failing, it has failed. And, it's all our faults for voting them in office.

    June 17, 2013 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  9. karen

    "half of the public says they don't believe he is honest and trustworthy"

    Well, count me in on this side.

    June 17, 2013 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  10. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Say, are these the same people that polled the ENTIRE country and told us that Romney had the 2012 election in the bag?
    Polls are GREAT aren't they?!!
    Keep on polling.... Obama is STILL the President.
    Get over it.

    June 17, 2013 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  11. pgraham52

    It's about time people starting wising up to this guy. Chicago politics at it's best.

    June 17, 2013 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  12. deee510

    No other president has ever been so disrespected.no other president has ever been expected to fix every problem in the u.s..when any thing goes wrong in the world these racist accuse the president.yet they don't want to give any credit for turning the World economy around from the damage that bush did in his two terms.we love Obama

    June 17, 2013 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  13. Harry Pleham


    "Half of the public says they don't believe he is honest and trustworthy."....and the other half don't care as long as they get their welfare check!

    I think truly believe that MJ above done hit it smack dab square on the "FREE" Obama-phone above! THANK YOU MJ!!!!

    June 17, 2013 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  14. brian

    The man is pure Teflon nothing will stick as soon as he figures out who to throw under the bus. If he doesn't want to go down in history dirtier than Nixon, he needs to clean house and start leading and not ONLY play politics.... that's right, 5 and half years of nothing but politics without American interest in mind.

    June 17, 2013 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  15. Not Liberal

    It's just not all the scandals that are crushing his poll numbers, it's more. It's his attitude, his lack of support for quality immigration reform, OBamacare which we haven't felt the wrath of this disaster yet, his pathetic foreign policy agenda, his reluctance to support the Keystone pipeline, his liberal out of control spending and traveling. On and on I could go, but you get the point. Loyalty is shrinking and the American people are now realizing the mistake that was made in electing him again. He will go down as one of the worst President's in American history.

    June 17, 2013 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  16. richard from rancho cordova

    mama you are showing you colors. alot of us are just american i repeat. non-racist americans who dont like being lied to keep in the dark or watched. but thats just me.ps i voted for him the 1st time and myself the 2nd and im mexican

    June 17, 2013 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  17. Gary

    Well, I've always said a truly honest person who doesn't compromise their believes could never get elected president. A lot of deals are made to become president no matter who you are.

    June 17, 2013 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  18. richard from rancho cordova

    i respect this man as my president but do not anymore as a man of his word. he told me he shut down that prison it still open. he told he he stop all this bush crap he expanded it. im sorry mr pres i lost faith in you

    June 17, 2013 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  19. Not Liberal

    Time to Impeach him

    June 17, 2013 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  20. akh0rahil

    It's absolutely amazing to me that so many people are still blaming Bush for every problem and scandal that goes across Obama's desk... Especially when people blame Obama's economy on Bush... Both employment numbers and unemployment numbers show a steady improvement during Bush's second term. And yet during Obama's 1st term... unemployment literally doubled (worst unemployment rate since 1983) and the employment rate dropped to 58%. The lowest it's been since 1979. And it has NOT shown any signs of improving. But hey... it's Bush's fault.

    June 17, 2013 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  21. Liberals turning on liberals

    If we ever learn the truth of Benghazi his approval will be 0%.

    June 17, 2013 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  22. I hated Obama before it was cool

    What a crock. I never voted for him. He is from Illinois, and what does Illinois have a reputation for??? Politcial criminal behavior and dishonesty! DUH? Did America think he could break that streak? He was too inexperienced when he was first voted in and now all the Obama zombies are waking up. But it's okay because he had Hollywood endorsements and the support of all the people that were just as brainwashed. Idiots.

    June 17, 2013 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  23. Peoples State of Illinois

    His poll numbers are nothing more than a reflection of people getting off the koolaide and opening their eyes.

    June 17, 2013 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  24. Siesta Beach

    Barack is still "the man" as far as my family is concerned. Looking forward to Hillary being our next president.

    June 17, 2013 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  25. person

    took you all this long to realize he's the half black george w bush?

    June 17, 2013 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
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