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. Jim Schwartz

    Obama should resign and give back his Nobel Peace Prize.

    June 17, 2013 07:32 am at 7:32 am |
  2. Moonraker

    Isn't it amazing how fickle people are? WE have one of the most intelligent individuals in decades in the White House and people are already forgetting all the damage the GOP has caused our society.

    June 17, 2013 07:32 am at 7:32 am |
  3. insi10

    you're spying on us. of course we don't trust you.

    June 17, 2013 07:32 am at 7:32 am |
  4. dubrats

    and it only took the american voters 5 years to figure this out??....we just don't stand a chance in this once great country anymore .....sadly.

    June 17, 2013 07:33 am at 7:33 am |
  5. Colorado

    Still much higher than the approval rating of all of Congress.

    June 17, 2013 07:33 am at 7:33 am |
  6. goldminetown

    I already knew this 4 years ago.I'm glad people who voted for him start to see his true color.His lies and deceptions catch up with him.I am worried about future of my country.

    June 17, 2013 07:34 am at 7:34 am |
  7. cartman

    And that's with CNN's cheer leading and burying negative stories.

    June 17, 2013 07:34 am at 7:34 am |
  8. Anonymous

    This type of poll needs to go away. Call cell phones. Everyone has one and you will get a better mix of people than if you are only calling home bodies who have an inclination to sit there and answer your survey. one more thing warning unrelated: snowden is not the traitor. Obama and his predecessors are.

    June 17, 2013 07:35 am at 7:35 am |
  9. Princeton1991

    Whose rating wouldn't fall? If Romney were in office does anyone realistically belive or imply his rating would rise? Each would get hold of the Excedrin over these problems. The only benefit is that the headace medicine recall is long over. This will be too.

    June 17, 2013 07:36 am at 7:36 am |
  10. Anonymous

    I was wondering when people were catching on. The great presidents were able to get everyone to work as a team. He was granted the luxury of constructing his own cabinet yet everyone is so quick to follow his finger when he points the blame elsewhere. I think I see less drama on half of those crap reality shows.

    If I am doing business with an organization and they all suck I want to talk to the manager for resolution. In this case it is the "manager" balming everybody and people have been fine with that for way too long. Super excited that people are catching on and maybe the right people will be held accountable.

    June 17, 2013 07:36 am at 7:36 am |
  11. works4me

    Being at the helm of this ship makes him the responsible one. While he may or may not be directly involved in any one of these controversies, he takes the hit.
    I, for one, am still glad Romney lost and he wasn't chosen to lead this Country.
    How about we do a survey on the GOP approval rating. I can only imagine where that would be... toilet?

    June 17, 2013 07:37 am at 7:37 am |
  12. king

    well i guest this what happens when you have a repubs party that only agenda is to destroy this president: hell with jobs, hell with foreign policies, their only agenda is to destroy this president, and hell if the country crumbles with him. its amazing how gullible Americans have become: 12 Benghazi like incident during the bush administration; yet the only one terrorist incident in Benghazi blew up like a balloon. Incidents of IRS targeting liberals during the bush administrations, probably dictated by the bush administrations, yet the IRS was justified then. Chaney going after reporters that was leaking national security information, and that was OK. lesson folks i know that the repubs propaganda machine is humungous, compared to only one dem machine, which is msnbc. the repubs fox news, and their corporate friends cnbc and fox business news, and right winged radio stations that outnumbers dems 20 to 1. and most of this machine is geared to demagog the mainstream media who say anything positive about the president forcing them to jump on their bandwagon. i am surprised they are still rational folks still out their to see past the repubs rederics, and their fake scandals and still see where this president have brought us from, and how other countries has went the opposite way, because they took the austerity policies the repubs are adamantly pushing, shouting small government, and cut cut cut to the American people, this president have brought down the budget deficit, yet pushed stimulus aggressively. i wonder if we were under a repubs president if we would be like Europe right now.l

    June 17, 2013 07:39 am at 7:39 am |
  13. Oscar Pitchfork

    I guess people really are un-critically thinking sheep and DO believe all the Right-Wing propaganda...

    June 17, 2013 07:39 am at 7:39 am |
  14. Roger Spooner

    Why do I feel this was the goal of the news media and Republicans instead of the result of a search for the truth and better policies.

    June 17, 2013 07:39 am at 7:39 am |
  15. Gamma ray

    Well when you waffle on all many of your promises,and do the political two step , what do you think will happen ?

    I had high hopes for Mr Obama, sadly none came true.
    He'll go down in history as one of the presidents with the most unrealized potential.

    June 17, 2013 07:40 am at 7:40 am |
  16. deb

    The medias and congress are l way ower.

    June 17, 2013 07:40 am at 7:40 am |
  17. steve

    it is about time people figured out he doesn't care about America or it's citizens, with the debt we have he's going to spend $80 – $100 million so he can go to Africa, for what? let them come here......

    June 17, 2013 07:40 am at 7:40 am |
  18. NJ

    I approve 100% for Obama and 0% in all Republicans. Republicans are the "take away" party and want to destroy Democrats just for the sake of it. Your poll is does not reflect informed people.

    June 17, 2013 07:40 am at 7:40 am |
  19. R. Nor

    I've lost complete faith and support towards Obama, when he signed the MONSANTO Protection ACT. Protecting a major EVIL Corporation and letting us the consumers to become experiments . Label our food!. We don't need to eat GMO food, we don't need Round-up. That goes to you too CNN , too afraid to put that on the news. Lack of cojones my CNN friends!

    June 17, 2013 07:42 am at 7:42 am |
  20. deb

    The media's and congress poll numbers are way lower.

    June 17, 2013 07:42 am at 7:42 am |
  21. Rick McDaniel

    Obama has been taking secretly taking us to the edge of becoming a totalitarian state.

    Anyone who approves of that, simply does not defend the American way of life.

    June 17, 2013 07:42 am at 7:42 am |
  22. Lyles

    I'd like to think his approval rating has gotten lower than the numbers they've posted here, but some people are just to lazy to voice their opinion or do anything about it.

    June 17, 2013 07:43 am at 7:43 am |
  23. Michael

    44% of the American public approve of Snowden's actions? The level of ignorance on the part of a significant minority of the population in this country is astounding.

    June 17, 2013 07:44 am at 7:44 am |
  24. geekfuriouscom

    Approval ratings matter how much to a final term president?

    June 17, 2013 07:45 am at 7:45 am |
  25. Brandon

    Lets be real clear, we don't care about the IRS or Benghazi nonsense; thats the same Republicans that hate on him every poll regardless of if he cured cancer. This is about the NSA program.

    June 17, 2013 07:45 am at 7:45 am |
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