Obama's polls nothing to brag about ahead of big speech
January 27th, 2014
12:22 PM ET
6 years ago

Obama's polls nothing to brag about ahead of big speech

Washington (CNN) – President Barack Obama's poll numbers are near the lowest of his presidency as he prepares to deliver his State of the Union address on Tuesday.

According to a CNN Poll of Polls compiled on Monday which averages the most recent non-partisan, live operator national surveys, Obama's approval rating stood at  44%, with 51% of Americans giving a thumbs down to Obama's performance in the White House.

That's marginally better than two months ago when they ran at or near all-time lows for Obama. But it's still far below where it stood a year ago, at his second inaugural, when his approval rating stood in the low to mid 50's in most polling.

Obama's numbers tumbled after a summer of controversy over the Edward Snowden intelligence leaks and congressional investigations into IRS targeting of conservative political groups. Then came October, and the politically charged botched rollout of Obamacare, his signature domestic policy achievement.

Coupled with legislative setbacks, many pundits labeled 2013 the worst year of Obama's presidency. And for the first time since taking over at the White House in 2009, a majority of the public surveyed disapproved of his job performance.

Obama, himself, has been much more popular than his policies, but his favorable ratings – a separate indicator from job performance - are also now hovering near his all-time lows.

Just 49% of Americans in a new ABC News/Washington Post survey said they had a favorable opinion of the President. Fifty percent said they saw him in an unfavorable light.

"Americans' views of Obama as a person started to fall in the spring and summer of 2013, well before the flawed roll-out of the new health care law," CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said.

"Around the time of the NSA and IRS controversies, the number of Americans who felt he was honest and trustworthy dropped nine points, and the number who said he was a strong leader who inspired confidence also dropped at that time," he said.

The President said he doesn't obsess over polling.

"If I was interested in polling, I wouldn't have run for president," Obama said at a news conference in December.

The silver lining for him in all these polls: While his numbers are not impressive, approval ratings for Congress overall, and specifically for congressional Republicans and Democrats, are much lower.

How Obama matches up with predecessors

So how does Obama stack up when compared to his most recent two-term predecessors, as they started the sixth year of their presidencies?

George W. Bush was also underwater, with a 43%-54% approval/disapproval rating in January 2006 as the Iraq war raged and criticism of the federal government's response to Hurricane Katrina continued.

But Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan fared much better. Clinton stood at 59%-37% in January 1998, with Reagan at 64%-27% in January 1986.

"Historical comparisons suggest that the public's reaction to Bush and Obama are markedly more partisan than their predecessors," Holland said.  "It's almost as if the 2000 election marks a dividing point in U.S. politics, with 21st-century presidents not able to rely on support from voters from the opposite party that routinely gave a positive rating of 20th-century presidents."

The CNN Poll of Polls is an average of seven non-partisan, live operator, national surveys of the President's approval rating conducted over the two weeks.

They include the Gallup daily tracking poll (January 21-23); ABC News/Washington Post (January 20-23); Fox News (January 19-21); CBS News (January 17-21); American Research Group (January 17-20); Pew Research Center (January 15-19) and Quinnipiac University (January 15-19).

Since it is an average of multiple surveys, the Poll of Polls does not have a sampling error.

soundoff (94 Responses)
  1. rs

    much thunder...little rain

    take away his support from the minority community its closer to 20% support
    So, in yor mind, minority opinion doesn't count, or...?

    January 27, 2014 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  2. Tampa Tim

    14 million have already benefitted from the ACA, and the only ones who appear to be hurt are the baggers with junk policies living in red states.

    January 27, 2014 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  3. rs

    Tampa Tim

    I wonder if the baggers will ever give credit to Obama for getting us out of unfunded republican wars, creating 8 million jobs versus the 8 million lost by a republcan in 2008, putting the wars drug programs other republican brain freezes on the books, saving the auto and housing industry, putting an end to bin Laden, doubling the stock market; and all without a single republican vote.
    Ummmm, no. No, they won't.

    January 27, 2014 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  4. PaulG

    Can't do anything right obama continuing the slide into oblivion, can't happen soon enough.

    January 27, 2014 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  5. NYVeteran

    The only poll that matters in on election day. Lets see how the house and senate look after the GOP tries to disenfranchise voters, wages war on women, deny jobless benefits to the middle class, cuts food programs for the poor and treat immigrants like criminals. Lets see how many GOP leaders get primaried and clear the deck for a progressive sweep.

    January 27, 2014 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  6. Nick

    I've seen polls that show his approval below 40%. CNN seems to have chosen a somewhat favorable graphic. Look at it this way, the American people know he lied about Obamacare and made up the video story about Benghazi. The economy is just trudging along despite an $878 billion stimulus, and he is threatening to bypass the people's elected representatives and govern by executive order and regulation. In other words, he doesn't care about the country. Why would anyone trust him, let alone approve of his methods?

    January 27, 2014 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  7. sammy750

    As the Republicans said, they would defeat Obama in any way they can. There only mission was to defeat Obama and pass NO bills. They are accomplishing that. Obama needs to use his executive order power and get some business done. He needs to forgot the Republicans since for 5 years they have done NOTHING.

    January 27, 2014 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  8. Name jk. Sfl. GOP CRUZ lee&rubio 24billion dallar LOSS of your tax money conservatives,the garbage of America.

    Ya, but the incompetent GOPs polling at about 10% , so what's your point CNN????????

    January 27, 2014 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  9. Cindy

    Polls should be even lower. This President should be impeached and face fraud charges. President Obama will go down in history as the worst and most harmful of all Presidents. It's just shameful!

    January 27, 2014 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  10. Tampa Tim

    Republicans will go down in history for having done more damage to our country than any group of terrorists ever could.

    January 27, 2014 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  11. Marcus

    Open your wallets, libs. Have your youngster open his/her too. They are gonna pay for my healthcare in the future. Tell them to smile when they pay, I demand that.

    January 27, 2014 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  12. Sniffit

    "Obama's polls nothing to brag about ahead of big speech"

    "CNN's reporting nothing to brag about...period"


    January 27, 2014 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  13. RWB1956

    Someone mentioned the video that supposedly enraged terrorists to attack in Benghazi. A few weeks ago a movie producer announced he was going to make a movie that was anti-NRA. The boards just lit up with hate and loathing including your messiah Ted Nugent. So I guess a movie can enrage people. And this one is not even made yet. Have a nice day.

    January 27, 2014 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  14. ShawnDH

    Those numbers really aren't bad for this period in a second term. Plus, Obama is not up for reelection, so who cares? How Congress is polling is much more relevant.

    January 27, 2014 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  15. Keith

    Obama is a failure, Bush was a failure, when it is all over we can say that America just went on along without a president for 16 years.

    January 27, 2014 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  16. Lynda/Minnesota

    The only poll that matters in on election day.

    Funny that you should mention it. Apparently the right is still struggling with the fact that this is President Obama's last term in office.

    Guess they're still waiting for Mitch McConnell to inform them he's stopped trying to make Obama a one term President.

    January 27, 2014 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  17. duane - st.pete FL

    wow....let’s see...cash for clunkers, Benghazi, Fast and Furious, IRS admitting the targeting of conservative groups, NSA and Obama spying on every American, economy still stinks, our nation's debt will hit 20 trillion when he leave office, unemployment still crazy high, most people ever on food stamps, ongoing disaster of healthcare kick-off, “you can keep your plan and your doctor”….bs and so on…you liberals must be proud!
    oh, and our nation is more divided now than ever before......perfect!

    January 27, 2014 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  18. The Real Tom Paine

    -A True Conservative

    What has he done to be proud of? Nothing! He has proven to be an incompetent manager and uninvolved in even the most important issues and events. He has driven our standing in the world even further down than it was. He does manage to make ridiculous comments, not based on facts, regarding racial issues. I'll give him that one.
    So sayeth the one who claims he crunches climate change data in his spare time AND understands it because he is an engineer. As far as our international standing is concerned, I'm sure that you would never have objected to collecting data on foreign leaders if the GOP were in charge. Like all conservatives, you're a day late, a dollar short, and missing the broader picture, as usual. How does your 401K look these days? I'm sure its a damn sight better than it was 5 years ago.

    January 27, 2014 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  19. Kenman

    These pollsters must be setting up shop on the campus of UC Berkley to find this many dupes that STILL support this failed experiment! Otherwise, it is a very sad commentary on our nation that the foolish remain stubbornly ignorant in the face of reality and the threat to our nation that this unqualified ideologue has heaped upon us!

    January 27, 2014 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  20. Divdar

    Tampa Tim
    14 million have already benefitted from the ACA, and the only ones who appear to be hurt are the baggers with junk policies living in red states.

    That's funny. Isn't 14 million about the amount of illegals we have in the country?

    January 27, 2014 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  21. Malory Archer


    Open your wallets, libs. Have your youngster open his/her too. They are gonna pay for my healthcare in the future. Tell them to smile when they pay, I demand that.


    Yes marcus, our children WILL be paying for our care in the future – just as WE'RE currently paying for the older generation's care – unless the rethugs get their way and toss us all to the curb and not reimbursing us for the $$$ we've paid, leaving us to fend for ourselves after we've paid for decades for the older generations' care. If that happens, you'd better hope for both your sake and your children's that they can afford to care for you!

    January 27, 2014 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  22. Greybeard

    Doesn't matter. The Dems will still come out full force in 2014 and 2016.

    January 27, 2014 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  23. Malory Archer

    The Real Tom Paine

    As far as our international standing is concerned, I'm sure that you would never have objected to collecting data on foreign leaders if the GOP were in charge.


    Ironically, Angela Merkel's phone was tapped during the previous occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue's 8-year reign of error. Frankly, those who are so upset about NSA overreach should be tickled pink to have President Obama in office as before him, anyone who DARED to question the dauphin prince was ostracized, called a traitor, warned that we need to watch what we say/what we do (and that came straight from the White House!!!), told we're providing comfort to the "enemy", if we're not "with the president we're against the troops", etc. etc, etc. to infinity and beyond.

    January 27, 2014 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  24. hkirwin

    I read these posts and some sincerely scares me. Are people really this blind and delusional. I wonder if they truly believe the things they write. These past 5 years have been terrible for most people. Obama's largest accomplishment is the total division of America and the destruction of the American dream. A mere 62% of Americans employed and 38% happy living off crumbs. The wildest this is that they are satisfied with crumbs. What they fail to understand is soon the Gubmint cheese will run out.

    January 27, 2014 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  25. hmmmmm

    All Obama is going to do tonight is blame the rich and congress for his dismal record

    January 27, 2014 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
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