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. Plusonegolfer

    Pretty hard to trust any of these career politicians these days. As far as the presidential travel and vacations go, its not up to Obummer to decide the cost, that's all on the Secret Service and protection guys... but the whole amount is totally absurd and the family vacations without the president are beyond reproach. Isn't a concert at the WH enough with just Elton John? did they need to invite nine more grammy winners to make a decent evening?

    June 17, 2013 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  2. Awake

    Ron Paul should win by default. All you Americans are whinning for change yet you still vote of the same clowns that only repeat the same mistakes. Wake up America.

    June 17, 2013 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  3. c.oestricher

    To all the Presidents supporters like myself I say, STAY STRONG IN THE FACE OF UNADULTERATED IGNORANCE AND HATRED. Cnn under Ted Turner used to be better than THIS. Sadly Cnn has taken the low road to gain more viewer ship. It has converted to being almost a carbon copy of Fox (propaganda) news. But make no mistake. The forces that are trying their darndest to take away the legitimacy of Mr. Obamas legacy will in the end only hasten their own corrupted demise. In this post 911 world we are dealing with an entirely different mode of enemy. We NEED to utilize the resources we have at our disposal because our antagonists will not stop until they have achieved their goal. I did not care for Bush and his harmful and reckless policies. Yet I respected the measures he took in order to keep us safe as a people. Now this fine president is doing the same in order to protect OUR COUNTRY. I Have nothing to hide. This man is HERE TILL IT IS TIME TO LEAVE OFFICE. BIGOTS,DEAL WITH IT.

    June 17, 2013 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  4. Getoverit


    1,017 is a sample size large enough to represent 300,000,000?…
    All the CNN polls are like this. Especially the ones that cast Obama in a positive light. Sounds to me that you just don't like the results of this one.

    June 17, 2013 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  5. ruth

    Obama surrounds himself with children ,so did hitler......he is an expert in communism and an expert in socialism.....so was hitler...hiiler was a pied piper,had charisma ,obama thinks he does too....speaks eloquently,but behind that cloak lurks a man I never would have voted for,do not know enough about the man,seen a few pictures of his past,never saw baby pictures of him,his children ,his wedding,usually past presidents show pictures,he does not........

    June 17, 2013 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  6. M

    Still better than ding bat W's – thank god we got someone with a brain

    June 17, 2013 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  7. Garth

    This is one of those DUH moments...

    June 17, 2013 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  8. droppo

    Yeah. Take a bunch of fake scandals that don't lead back to Obama and make them somehow stick to Obama in the press. Must be almost time to gear up for the midterms.... sigh....

    June 17, 2013 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  9. ddtrey

    Ha ha! Obama has now made my man George W. look good! What happened to "we can find a balance between transparency and protecting people's privacy" prez? You compromised or collaborated zilch....in fact, you just rolled over and got caught. Man, sucks to try and do a hard job with no experience huh? It's not your fault though Barrack...it's the ridiculous people who voted for you that got us in this mess.

    June 17, 2013 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  10. mike

    Bush is looking better than ever. I felt safe here in the USA when he was chief.
    The wheel always comes around.
    Some are starting to see the real truth about President Obama. Hope the others wake up real soon B4 it is really to late.
    Do I hear IMPEACH????????????? Oh no, Biden.

    June 17, 2013 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  11. Gloria in IL

    Are the republicans gearing up to take back the WH? I normally vote R but I did put Obama in the WH for two terms because I've really grown to dislike the R tactics. Do not blindly follow ppl.

    June 17, 2013 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  12. strangerq

    The Prez is doing an outstanding job. Iran is getting a moderate leader

    ^ Exactly GOP wanted to start WW III with Iran.

    June 17, 2013 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  13. Oh For Pete's Sake!

    You're either having a laugh – in which case you're far from funny........... or you're certifiably deranged! Get back to your trailer, half-wit!

    June 17, 2013 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  14. NameRex

    "The president do everything" – Absolutely pathetic from someone preaching for higher education and against gramatical errors. I aslo suggest proof reading, unless of course, you enjoy talking in cirlcles.

    June 17, 2013 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  15. Joan

    CNN you might want to recheck your poll numbers. You have the President down by -9 points. According to Real Clear Politics which tracks all polls, that is even much worse than Rasmussen down by -5, Fox down by -6 and The Economist down by -6. which are all right leaning. However during the same time period, Gallop has him up by +3, Time up by +4, CBS up by +4 and Bloomberg up by +3. The CNN poll is the most negative, right leaning of all the polls. Isn't that interesting?

    June 17, 2013 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  16. Libereightme

    Obama's approval rate may be down, but it's still way higher than that of Congressional Republicans.

    June 17, 2013 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  17. Hal Karp

    Obama's ratings are going down without the liberal media reporting on the scandals and his poor management skills.

    June 17, 2013 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  18. yogi

    Whenever a Republican uses the words nazi or Hitler in the same sentence with President Obama in may posts here, they forgot or didn't realize that the Republican ideology is much closer to that part of history than Democrats ever will be. It is interesting to see how quick they are using the Third Reich analogies, deep down they feel an affinity I suspect.

    June 17, 2013 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  19. Independent Thinker

    republicans? democrats? It doesn't matter. They are just opposite sides of the same coin. They both trample on our liberty, just from opposite sides of the political spectrum. Vote for people who have honesty, integrity, and support the liberty of the citizens. Neither Bush nor Obama fall into that category. Be willing to vote for someone other than a traditional republican or democrat. It will take someone with libertarian leanings to get us out of the mess we are currently in. The democrats have given up their libertarian ideals in order to protect their power. They have become statists who want more and more power in the federal government at the expense of our liberties and our freedom to make choices (except abortion). Where has the party of John F. Kennedy gone? I will side with the libertarians.

    June 17, 2013 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  20. kirby

    Conservatives make the mistake of believing their outdated, backwards and bat shit crazy beliefs are shared by more than the nutty nuts in the far right of their party.

    June 17, 2013 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  21. Motoman52

    TRUST US – Exclusions from Prisim, Health Care, Insider trading knowledge, owning Stocks in War Products, which never end, better Health Care and Retirement then most, spending millions on parties and vacations, writing checks with no money in the account (forgien aid) tracking reporters, tracking my grand kids, a lost the war on drugs, higher taxes, illegals, forced health care, DHS, IRS, ATF, Many good jobs gone oversees, middle class shrinking, on and on and on we can go! You can trust the US Gov't – ask the American Indians.
    Now move along folks.

    June 17, 2013 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  22. Independent Thinker

    c.oestricher, wake up and quit being a rank ideologue. Obama is just as bad as Bush, but from the opposite side of the political spectrum. What you are not realizing is that there is a growing number of us who are fed up with the democrats AND the republicans. We are not ideologues and will support ANYBODY who reverses the United States' slide toward authoritarianism. We will rally behind those politicians who have the courage to bring this country back toward its libertarian beginning. I do not understand your support for this statist philosophy that has infected your democratic party beyond the point of common sense. This is no longer a fight between the republicans and the democrats. It is a fight between the statists (along with their crony corporate partners) and the libertarians. I will do everything that I can to make sure that the libertarians are the winners.

    June 17, 2013 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  23. Bluedestiny

    No more spying on citizens who are not suspected of a crime

    Those are his own words, search on quote for the vid and see his own words from his own lips.

    June 17, 2013 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  24. eviltaxpayer

    Looks like hell have to print or borrow more money to buy more approval from his mass of "takers"

    June 17, 2013 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  25. crazyludwig

    I love seeing Obama supporters call out his critics are mere bigots. To my recollection, it is not bigotry to point out the murder of sixteen year old Abdulrahman Al-Awlaki, an American citizen, without trial in Yemen. It is not bigotry to point out that the victims of the President's drone program are civilians 98% of the time. It is not bigotry to point out that the President supported the PATRIOT act, hasn't closed Guantanamo Bay, continued or started a domestic spying program that violated the privacy of millions of Americans, surged troops into Afghanistan, and is likely going to send troops into Syria.

    You are not anti-war if you support Obama. You are not pro-civil liberties if you support Obama. You are not pro-constitution if you support Obama. You are a party-line towing war criminal apologist, and nothing more. So stop trying to pull the race card every time someone criticizes your bloodthirty warmonger of a President.

    June 17, 2013 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
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