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. Name willard

    Presdient obama could get out of impeach.

    June 17, 2013 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  2. Lara

    Lots of losers are still supporting him. And he's going to take us to WWIII, it looks that way. 🙁

    June 17, 2013 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  3. Colin

    1,017 is a sample size large enough to represent 300,000,000?...

    June 17, 2013 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  4. jon

    He has been elected as President. Get over it. If you don't like it, vote for one of the awful Republicans who will be running in 2016. Then we will have gone full circle.

    June 17, 2013 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  5. jbr3930

    Wonder what will happen when all the MEDIA begins reporting on the Obama's $60M vacation that just started?
    We have major scandals that need to be addressed; families that barely can afford food - and oh by the way can't take their children to OUR White House, our Military is being punished and cannot further their education; seniors who cannot afford to eat nourishing meals unless one counts pet food as being nourished. The Obamas are thumbing their noses at their employers - wonder when the yearly trips to Hawaii and Martha's Vineyard can be worked into their busy vacation schedule. Pathetic !

    June 17, 2013 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  6. WeToldYouSo

    I knew this man was a phony after listening to him for 5 minutes back in 2008. Too bad you so called "educated" liberals still cant see what he's all about. Take this amnesty battle for instance. If they allow these illegals to come in then they will be taking jobs away from the lower middle class, the very people who voted for him. Too bad most liberals are too dumb to see who is stabbing them in the back. Now, I own a small construction company here in NY and I dont hire American workers anymore, I hire day laborers because I pay them 50 a day and no paperwork or medical. Again, too bad most of you libs are too dumb to see who is stabbing you in the back.

    June 17, 2013 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  7. deee510

    I hope we don't go to war with Syria.however Mr Obama is a greatman and leader.hope he had a wonderful fathers day

    June 17, 2013 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  8. d Osborne

    What is happening to CNN? Your reporting is beginning to look more and more like FOX. Now a poll concerning President Obama done with social media. Well we can't have it all ways and I believe that we have no idea about just how dangerous it is to be American in this world- post 9-11. In past 5 years we have traveled a month each year in Europe...everywhere we go there is a presence of camera (traffic, city streets, transportation). Everywhere we go there are armed police and persons in uniform with impressive fire power on them (airports, monuments, streets). One evening outside Notre Dame cathedral, while a large crowd watched the façade of the building change in the sunset...we happened to notice one huge person dressed in black with a small automatic machine gun (much like the guards at Buckingham Palace gates) looking further...there were two other dressed identically. We felt they were there for all of our safety.
    The world has changed...all these "young people" complaining of computer snooping- give their information away every time they use Facebook, Twitter or just simply shop online or use their computer. I am tracked and advertised to with every keystroke...I look on my local city streets and see traffic cameras at red lights...set up to catch and make a buck. They and we all are tracked by GPS in phones and cars constantly. I'm not saying that I like it but here we are. These same people that don't like what they see happening, would be the same to complain of being unprotected and be horrified if the unspeakable happened again.
    I voted for Obama and would do it again. He is up against a Republican Party that can't lead, is out of touch and would rule like the Taliban if they could...in the name of religious conservatism. I also believe that we do not know in any way the weight of what he found as President...I feel so fortunate to have his cool head in these times.
    I am a white person, always looking to the future and believing that we can be a better country...we meet so many "over there" who appreciate the man in the White House now. I have many much younger persons from baby to young adult in my life...so I have a good perspective on technology and feel progressive in how I approach the times. I would never think that I would ever agree with Cheney but Snowdon is a traitor -who should be dealt with in US courts- to help with a nationwide dialog in rethinkiing the kind of "security" that we are willing to accept in a post 9-11 world.

    June 17, 2013 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  9. Leslie Ann Warren

    Everybody Wants 2 Complain & Blame The President 4 Sumthang He Didn't Do, Which Is Sad??!! If Ur Not Doin Anythang Wrong & Have Nuthin 2 Hide, Why Should U Care If There Watchin Everythang U Do If Ur Not Doin Anythang Wrong, & Yall Be The Sames One Cryin When Bombins or Mass Killins Are Happenin Where Not Protected, So There Is The Part Protectin Our Country w So Stop Complainin Whiners??!! Blessings In Jesus Name, Blood, & Luv Always!!

    June 17, 2013 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  10. george

    With high hopes for a new face and new direction. I've seen the same old song and dance. Daily questions about his creditability. I'm done.

    June 17, 2013 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  11. Kimberly

    Every single post I have read negative post I have read is so grammatically incorrect. Get an education. Did you say those things about Bush when he signed the Patriot Act? Which is why we have no privacy. Get over your racist selves. The republicans do not want to help him to do the things he promised. Checks and balances. The president do everything. Congress does most. Read a book. Get an education.

    June 17, 2013 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  12. Eeboy

    The GOPs smear campaign is taking hold with some of the more "unenlightened" people who hear lies over and over and start to believe them. You make about as much sense as a football bat with the degrading remarks and name calling... and it reveals your real issue with the President. How does it feel to realize that the President has taken all the shots you've thrown out at him and he is still standing tall.You're on the wrong team... Obama Wins.

    June 17, 2013 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  13. ShawnDH

    45% is a pretty darn good approval rating for this period in a two-term presidency.

    June 17, 2013 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  14. Peach

    It's about time people woke up to the incompetency of this president. Better late than never.....just hope its not TOO late. I smell an impeachment in the air-–ahhh smells nice.

    June 17, 2013 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  15. CryBabies

    He is our most transparent President ever....at least I can see right through him. Apparently more people are starting to.

    June 17, 2013 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  16. deee510

    CNN is full of it.the same 53%of the u.s.love our chief

    June 17, 2013 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  17. Indy63

    Yes Colin, it's called "statistics"

    Presidents are only as good as the people with whom they surround themselves. President Obama has made some very poor choices in that arena.

    June 17, 2013 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  18. pops

    how could anyone be so naive to trust a South Side Chicago politician, shame on you, you 52%

    June 17, 2013 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  19. z&hcats

    This is our problem if we believe what we voted for,still, I trust our current President than other politicians,even I don't agree some of his polices.
    BTW, I don't trust this poll.

    June 17, 2013 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  20. Joan

    Someone should do a poll on how much people trust polls. I bet it would be pretty low. Remember how the polls had Romney doing so well before the election. Totally wrong. Anyone who knows how polls are organized knows they can be skewed by the wording of the questions, time of day people are called, land vs cell phones, parts of the country polled and many other variables. They are only helpful for the people getting paid to do them. Right now it is popular to load on the President and some in the media are trying to bolster some of the Republican "scandals". Wonder why? The President is probably just as popular as ever but that's not helpful for the Republicans so there will be more stories like this. Actually America doesn't deserve President Obama.

    June 17, 2013 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  21. Norma jean

    You people haven't been around long enough to be so critical of the president. I can go back sixty years and pick apart any president we ever had. Some not as bad as others and some not so good but we liked them....What are you looking for??? I can recite names of crooked..misguided...lying....lowsy presidents and I can show you a few who have at least tried to clean up a mess left by the preceeding pres.....You wouldn't know the difference because of what you are looking for.....Not only that but we have never had a president that was told at inauguration that the other party was NOT going to work with him and was out to destroy here as quickly as possible......Put yourself in a job where management said they were going to do you in as fast as possible....How would you take THAT????? EITHER WAKE UP OR SHUT UP !!

    June 17, 2013 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  22. upwardquest

    President Obama is one of the most honest and trustworthy of Presidents. Republicants and other sore losers have been trying to bring him down with their lies and negative attacks. Just wait. Before his his second term ends, his popularity will rise much higher. The problem in Wash. D.C. is all the Republicants in the congress.

    June 17, 2013 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  23. Fish

    I'm sorry but after over 4 years we still have too many unemployed and an out of control Wall Street. Glass-Steagall should have been reinstated on the President's inauguration Day or very soon thereafter. While I realize it is a heavy lift but that is what the honeymoon period is for and since it has long been taboo to overturn any President's signature legislation it should have been the President's top priority to reinstate FDR's New Deal. For that I am very frustrated with the President because the needs of the many out weigh the wants of a few!!!

    June 17, 2013 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  24. John in CA

    Be careful of the party you follow blindly. In 1919 Hitler formed his NSD Party and it slowly gained popularity until 1924's failed putsch attempt at a Munich beer hall. Thrown in jail he wrote his memoirs Mein Kampf. In 1927 Hitler agreed to respect the authority of the state: he would only seek political power through the democratic process. His renunciation paved the way for lifting the ban on his public speaking supporting his ultra-conservative party, the NSDAP. From 1927 through 1933 through his charismatic and patriotic oratory he was able to grow his party from 2.8% to 43.9% of the popular vote which swept his party into the Reichstag for a majority that he maintained until his appointment as Chancellor of Germany. Look......just because Dick Cheney wins hands down a majority of neo-conservative support with his gloom and doom predictions about the evil outside America, I fear more the evil from within two American parties that are monolithic in their intentions to slowly lull us all into a false sense of security, then deprive us of our freedoms. Statements like "I have nothing to hide so go eaves drop my email, my internet, and my calls" posted on this site really concern me. Recall that power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely, and good men do bad…even if elected by a majority of their peers.

    June 17, 2013 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  25. Tom

    With Republicans fabricating and the conservative loving media reporting those fabrications as facts it is no wonder President Obama's numbers are falling. But just like all the "scandals" the Republicans are pushing these days once these "scandals" fade his numbers will go up again. But nice try Conservative News Network, I mean CNN.

    June 17, 2013 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
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