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. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Time to Impeach him
    What's keeping you?
    Yeah. That's what we thought.

    June 17, 2013 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  2. Wake up People!

    Oh dear.....how will he EVER be reelected with numbers like those???

    Oh wait.......

    June 17, 2013 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  3. us_1776

    Let's be clear about this.

    I don't approve of what the president has been doing because he is not doing enough PROGRESSIVE things that he promised he would do.

    Repeal the unconstitutional and unpatriotic Patriot Act.

    Close down Guantanamo Prison the symbol of war crimes around the world from the tortures that occurred during the Bush administration.

    For starters.


    June 17, 2013 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  4. NJG

    Too many people believe everything they hear. Like Darrell Isa saying the directions to the IRS came directly from the white house and he is "getting to proving it." Wouldn't it make more sense to prove it first before you make such a statement? They do this because they know their base will believe it and pass it on as truth and if it isn't the truth, they don't care, it is out there. Now they don't want immigration reform because it will just make more democratic voters and they will loose again in 2016. All they have to do is continue to lie to the American People, and not do their job in congress, and they will be sure to loose anyway.

    June 17, 2013 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  5. numba won joe

    this is not news...and it's far more than half that are aware of his tyranny and corruption, and a long time ago...this guy makes nixon look like a girlscout

    June 17, 2013 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  6. Thinkergal

    Oh the fickle, fickle American public. Remember the Roman crowd who cheered Brutus, then turned on him when misled by the smooth-talking Marc Antony? This president is still the best possible leader in a troubling time; he deserves our support and admiration. Someone gave me a button two years ago that reads "Palin would have quit by now."

    June 17, 2013 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  7. deee510

    People are full of it.this country's economy was going down the toilet before he was sworn in as president.he has turned this economy around.CNN should publish a story about that which is fact instead of this irrelevant bs.he can't just walk in the office and stop all national security programs the the us would really be in trouble.grow up a black man is your president and he is good at it.edu love Obama

    June 17, 2013 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  8. Kerrybiantulip

    Hey, at least it's not Romney.

    June 17, 2013 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  9. PCC

    I love how everyone thinks they know what goes on and who is good or bad. NO ONE knows what has happened, how it surfaced, and the true context in which the incident took place. I'm sure 99% of everyone uses such reliable sources like CNN and Fox News to make their clearly biased opinions known. I'd like to see any one of you do a better job than any president. Everyone expects things to be done immediately, but we have created such a complex and inefficient process through our government (both parties) that it cannot happen overnight. What is most amusing is people are so short-sided. I believe in democracy, but if we continue to vote based on unhappiness our current administrations we are not going to move forward in a way that does not congest and complex our structures, policies, and procedures even further as country. We have become a nation of immediacy and blame not intentionality, compassion, and understanding.

    June 17, 2013 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  10. MeanOldMan

    If the amount of time and money that have been spent to demonize Obama and anything he has even thought of trying to do were to be spent on targeting any politician would their ratings even be as high as Obamas? The congress has an approval rating currently of around 10% or less that a quarter of Obamas. As bad as people see his rating right now, just wait. Getting us involved in Syria will really put him in the tank. The clear majority of the American people don't want us to get involved in another middle eastern conflict that really is none of our business. We have more than enough things to work on to fix our own country.

    June 17, 2013 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  11. Dean

    H.L. Mencken (born 1880 – died 1956) was a journalist, satirist, critic, and Democrat. He wrote this editorial while working for the Baltimore Evening Sun, which appeared in the July 26, 1920, edition:

    "As democracy is perfected, the office of the President represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be occupied by a downright fool and complete narcissistic moron."

    -H.L. Mencken, The Baltimore Evening Sun, July 26, 1920\

    He was correct. The time is here.

    June 17, 2013 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  12. Philo99

    GW Bush's approval ratings were horrible and Obama is enacting the same exact policies with a much worse economy.

    Did anyone think his approval rating was going to go up?

    June 17, 2013 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  13. Peg

    It's interesting to note that the media has been a cheerleader and supporter of Pres. Obama until they found out that the administration was using their phone records to try to find a leak. All of a sudden all heck has broken lose and the administration can do nothing right! Hmmm, it makes me wonder why the change of heart!

    June 17, 2013 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  14. jackie

    I think there are more important things this country should be worrying about. You can't possibly believe that the Chinese, Russians, Iran, etc. aren't doing the same thing. If you don't, you better get your head out of the sand. Maybe you would be happy if we were invaded and had a war on our soil. Maybe that would change your mind. It's time to wake up people and be pro America and not against it.

    June 17, 2013 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  15. Harvey Wallbanger

    Bush was a disaster. Under his 8 year administration the national debt doubled from 4 trillion to 8. Obama managed to double it again in 4 years; from 8 trillion to 16. I just hope we still have a country by the end of Obama's second term.

    Obama promised a lot of things to get elected the first time. The reason his approval rating has a flushing sound is people are starting to wise up after it is too late.

    To pay off the debt every man, woman, and child in this country would have to cut a check for nearly $60,000. Add in everything the government has obligated us to, but not funded; makes that check close to $480,000. Are you ready to cut your check? Remember to cut one just like it for each member of your family.

    I believe there is a good possibility that this country will collapse under its own weight and split up into four or five independent nations. Anyone owed money by the United State government will be SOL as it will no longer exist.

    When I was a kid back in the sixties a friend and I use to joke "Isn't it a shame future generations can't see what we are doing with their money?". If this was obvious to two kids barely in their teens, why did everyone run over the cliff like a bunch of lemmings? I did everything I could to prevent it, but my efforts were like a drop of water in the ocean.

    June 17, 2013 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  16. Scott

    Maybe Obama believers are finally waking up the fact that the man is bad news, and really is the worst natural disaster to hit our country since its conception.

    June 17, 2013 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  17. yogi

    The louder the posts here (and there are a lot of those today), the less I am inclined to believe them, and it tells more about the shallowness of the person posting. When people only make their arguments by endlessly regurgitating words as "lying", "cover-up", "scandals", etc. I would like to challenge them by asking if they really know what they are talking about, where they got their "information". Did they actually read about each of the "scandals" they are so angry about? Of course not, most are clueless and repeat what they heard on Fox.

    June 17, 2013 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  18. Steveo


    I think there are more important things this country should be worrying about. You can't possibly believe that the Chinese, Russians, Iran, etc. aren't doing the same thing
    The major difference is our intel found this out, it wasn't blasted out in a newspaper by a Chinese, Russian, or Iranian traitor!

    June 17, 2013 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  19. doctorno1964

    These events, have showcased the inability of the current administration to provide for the basic wellbeing of the public. They have used and abused their power to maintain their power. The original comment above, of how can we re-elect him...oh wait....demonstrates exactly what Obama wanted. Only to be re-elected. He only wants the presidency as if this is a job...its a temp job that will thankfully end. we unfortunately have to endure another 3 years of this inept individual.

    June 17, 2013 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  20. tradingdaze

    Barry "Pants on Fire" Obama is acting like a republican.

    June 17, 2013 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  21. michand

    This has to be all Bush's fault.

    June 17, 2013 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  22. strangerq

    Eric Cantor's nasty face at the bottom talking about the President's approval rating –

    But the congress has an approval rating of 10%.

    Worst ever in history.

    President is a class act.

    GOP remains a clown act.

    June 17, 2013 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  23. Nick

    The Prez is doing an outstanding job. Iran is getting a moderate leader (crisis averted – remember when the Navy was sent to keep the straight of Hormuz open?). North Korea is backing down – we called their bluff. The economy is up – stock market, real estate. Unemployment is down. Consumer confidence is up. We are getting out of Iraq, Afghanistan. On things that REALLY matter, he has done a stellar job. I wish he can do 4 more years.

    June 17, 2013 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  24. yogi

    @ Dean
    Indeed, Mencken was correct, he was a Democrat and knew what kind of President the Republicans would produce: W

    June 17, 2013 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  25. Anonymous

    Obama's approval rating is 47%? – – – Isn't that the same % of people receiving govt. help?

    June 17, 2013 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
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