June 17th, 2013
06:00 AM ET
10 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. yogi

    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.
    Whatever you like to color your realty, it doesn't create reality. Bush remains a war criminal. Impeachment? When you know on which ground get back to me, but you live in a vague sub-reality so I know you cannot answer that.

    June 17, 2013 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  2. Tina Meyer

    Obama & his entire administration are a huge disappointment! What will it take for the public o get it – more scandals? No other president in the history of this country would still be in office – it is embarrassing!

    June 17, 2013 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  3. Talya So

    The only polls that mattered were taken in November, 2008 and November, 2012. Ob*ma the Dictator won both. He is unstoppable now. You made your bed, America. Now LIE IN IT!

    June 17, 2013 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  4. Diogenes

    How does it happen thatno one i know EVER gets polled by CNN for anything? In fact it seems only certain Democrats ever get asked snything.

    June 17, 2013 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  5. Pelle

    I think his tumble down started when Monsanto's hand was discovered up his r...

    June 17, 2013 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  6. Gail

    Omg!!!! Can everyone knock it off with approval ratings!!!..Obama is a good president, try doing his job for a day!!!...He has so many matters to deal with...eg. high crimes rates, the violence, gun shootings ....please just knock it off and leave him alone!!!!

    June 17, 2013 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  7. darth's daughter

    When you are the connected to the Kennedys as such the President, always remember that administration is running under the table and back door to banks with phony stock market bears.

    June 17, 2013 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  8. loadmaster3

    I'm absolutely fascinated by the a-typical rebuttles of the libby's when they attempt to spin, and I mean spin all the hard evidence against the barry Obama regime. "It's still all Bush's fault", Obama "I didn't find out about it until you did". Holder, "I had no knowledge". Hillary "what difference does it make now?" FBI Director, Robert Mueller "has no knowledge of the name of his lead investigator" of the IRS probe that he ordered 6 weeks ago. You lemmings need to pull your heads out of the sand quick. That, or move to the Middle East where you can find plenty of sand.

    June 17, 2013 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  9. ichupichu

    The republican propaganda machine is having its affect. That they have managed to make Obama look bad for running a program that Bush started illegally and was made legal in 2008 is a tribute to the gullibility and ignorance of the public. The constant drone of lies coming from the likes of Issa are being taken as the truth.

    His appearance on TV recently where he spouted a slew of theories that were unsubstantiated and have since been proven to be false or blatant lies are being treated as factual. His statement that subpoenas have been issued to the IRS was quickly proven to be a lie as well as his comments about WH involvement in the targeting that in my opinion was warranted. Doesn't anyone find it highly questionable that he has released only excerpts from the interviews he claims incriminate Obama? Or that these transcripts have not been given to democrats on the committee or Congress. Issa is running his own private investigation so he can do as much political damage as possible before the facts come out. With all their false claims about Obama lacking transparency Issa pulls a stunt like this? In the end it is republicans that will lose credibility for creating false scandals.

    Can you imagine the republican outcry if a democrat made those kinds of allegations against Bush.

    June 17, 2013 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  10. teddy

    Obama is still five times more popular than Congress.

    June 17, 2013 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  11. Jeremy

    I have a different story. Only 8% of poll participants were dumb enough to listen to the idiot "news" media and Congressional grandstanders hyping a bunch of non-stories and conspiracy stories and lies about what our patriotic intelligence services are struggling to do to prevent another 9/11. That's a better story.

    June 17, 2013 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  12. Dave

    I can't say I have ever trusted in the competence of the "community organizer" but the bottom line is unless he commits an impeachable offense and is convicted of it, and since he is not eligible for re-election, whether he has the trust of the people or not, he is still the president and we are stuck with him and whatever choices he makes for the duration of his current term, after which he ceases to be a factor.

    June 17, 2013 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  13. Christian Rodier

    Mr. President please stop spying on the press. Please stop this massive overreach known as the surveillance state then they will trust you. Come clean, and they will respect you.

    June 17, 2013 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  14. anthony barbuto

    Did we forget we impeached Nixon for ONE violation of the Constitution? lets see ...what has Obama done so far..1) he had his political appointees at Dept of Energy give BILLIONS of dollars to his campaign chums, and many of these Green companies declared bankruptcy 1-2 years after they got their money....( see the account in the book "throw them all out")..2)..he supplied guns to Mexican terrorists...for GOD knows what reason...3) He is attacking the 2nd 10th and 22nd amendments to the Constitution ( right to bear arms, search with warrant and 2 term limit to presidency ...yes he is making plans to run again and again....).4) he has the Benghazi coverup....5) his executive order 13603, gives him the right to declare all food, business, even who can work...part of Executive privilege under this order...u should really read it,... then RUN to your bunker and seal the door......6) There is OBamacare which is unworkable...they are hiring 32,000 people just to explain it to the masses....7) the make believe economy which is all bogus and relies on Monopoly money...where you and I can't live on Walmart wages but he and Michele are making $72,000 a month by buying Oil futures....( you got to be worth $1 mil to buy these)..,,,,,,.so when are we going to impeach the bum?

    June 18, 2013 01:41 am at 1:41 am |
  15. anthony barbuto

    Reasons to impeach Obama:.....1) Benghazi coverup,...2) Billions of dollars given to his cronies from dept of energy appointees and lost by these businesses going bankrupt...see the book " throw them all out" for details...3) economy is a Ponzi scheme, using printed dollars worth nothing to pay for inflated programs...4) Executive Order 13603 gives Obama the power to regulate; food, work, production, transportation, raw materials and can even induct citizens for strategic work....better read it then run to your bunker and close the door...5) attempt to revoke our 2nd 10th and 22nd Amendment rights....... Impeach the bum, we did it to Nixon and he did only ONE impeachable coverup....

    June 18, 2013 01:48 am at 1:48 am |
  16. Bridget

    Who cares what Chaney says?

    June 18, 2013 01:55 am at 1:55 am |
  17. Anonymous

    How do you expect Obama to be honest? For example, the US as big as it is remains a complete slave to ISRAEL where instructions are given and of Obama's rhetoric to the Arab World since 2008 have turned out to be a huge LIE and not at all implementable! Who even remembers the Palestinians anymore and the so-called 2-State solution which Israel, US, UK and their Allies used so effectively in the past 12-15 years to perpetuate illegalities, displacement of people, land grab within Palestine's West Bank, etc, etc.

    June 18, 2013 04:17 am at 4:17 am |
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