July 23rd, 2014
06:00 AM ET
9 years ago

CNN Poll: Obama's numbers not great but holding steady

Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama's poll numbers are nothing to brag about, but there's little evidence he has suffered so far this year a "Katrina moment" that caused his predecessor's numbers to plummet.

A new CNN/ORC International survey indicates that public opinion of the President has barely budged in the wake of new challenges that Obama has faced this year.

[twitter-follow screen_name='politicalticker'] [twitter-follow screen_name='psteinhausercnn']

According to the poll, which was released Wednesday, the President's approval rating among Americans stands at 42%. That's not great, but it's basically unchanged since March.

Only 42% believe that Obama can manage the government effectively. Again, nothing to celebrate, but it's virtually unchanged from the 43% who felt that way in March.

zzz poll

"When Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and the Gulf Coast in 2005, the biggest impact on attitudes toward George W. Bush came in the number who said that he could manage the government effectively. That number dropped 10 points, and no other personal quality measured at that time changed as much," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Using that as a definition of a 'Katrina moment,' it looks like Obama has not experienced a similar drop in the summer of 2014, in part because his numbers already took that hit last year, and have stabilized since then."

New CNN/ORC Poll: Is Obamacare working?

The survey indicates there have been one-to-two point changes (which are within the poll's sampling error) in the number of Americans who say that Obama is a strong leader, that he shares their values, and that he cares about people.

"Once again, those numbers are not good news for the White House, but the clear indication is that the President's problems pre-date the current immigration crisis along the Mexican border, or anything else that has happened this summer, and that those problems have not made things significantly worse for the President," Holland added.

Obama drop started last year

Obama's numbers edged down after late spring and summer following controversies last year 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 the website for 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's approval ratings slightly rebounded earlier this year before edging down to their current standing in the low 40's in most national public opinion polling.

Obama to discuss immigration crisis with Central American leaders

The release of the new CNN Poll comes after the crisis along the southern border dominated headlines for weeks. Prior to that controversy, the scandal rocking the Department of Veterans Affairs was in the media spotlight.

The President is also facing two pressing international challenges: the bloody fighting in Gaza between Israel and Hamas, and the shooting down of a Malaysian airliner over a part of eastern Ukraine controlled by pro-Russian separatists. Prior to these two international flashpoints, Obama was dealing with the increased bloodshed in Iraq, the ongoing civil war in Syria, as well as the controversial swapping of five Taliban prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay for the release of a U.S. soldier held captive in Afghanistan.

What numbers mean for midterms?

Obama's approval rating is a key indicator of the President's standing with Americans and of his clout here in the nation's capital. And during a midterm election cycle, it's also considered an important barometer of how a president's political party may fare on Election Day, when control of Congress is at stake.

"You don't want a president at 42% anytime, especially in a midterm election year, when the approval rating is essentially the north star. Midterm elections are determined most of all by the president's approval rating," said CNN Chief National Correspondent John King.

The poll doesn't appear to offer any "new discouragement for Democrats, but there's nothing to cheer about," King added.

"I will give you this caution. The biggest drop since January is among Democrats. Obama's lost 11 percentage points among Democrats since the beginning of the year. Perhaps closer to the election, when Democrats are rallying a bit, that number could tick up a bit," King said.

So how does Obama stack up against his most immediate two-term predecessors as they marked their sixth Independence Day in the White House?

George W. Bush stood at 36% in the summer of 2006. Bill Clinton was at 61% in July 1998. And Ronald Reagan was at a lofty 63% in July 1986.


Bush's low numbers helped fuel the Democratic wave in the 2006 midterms, when the GOP lost control of both the House and the Senate.

The silver lining for Obama and his party: While the President's numbers are nothing to cheer about, the approval rating for Congress is in the gutter. The most recent polling, by Gallup, indicates that only 15% of Americans approve of the job federal lawmakers on Capitol Hill are doing, with eight in 10 giving Congress a thumbs down.

"It's easy for Americans to dislike Congress because most of them are familiar, at most, with only three members - their two U.S. Senators and the U.S. Representative from their district. That leaves 532 strangers who are easy to despise," Holland added.

Democrats have a 55-45 majority in the Senate (53 Democrats and two independents who caucus with the party). But in the midterms, the party is defending 21 of the 36 seats up for grabs, with half of those Democratic-held seats in red or purple states. In the House, the Democrats need to pick up a very challenging 17 Republican-held seats to win back the majority from the GOP.

Obama set to rake in millions, despite criticism of fundraising during tumult

Obama offers rules for success as he expands program for young minority men

The poll was conducted for CNN by ORC International from July 18-20, with 1,012 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

soundoff (545 Responses)
  1. DaveVB

    That's so weird I remember that exact same comment about George W. Bush when he was at 42 approval.

    July 23, 2014 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  2. Who Is There

    "...The poll was conducted for CNN by ORC International from July 18-20, with 1,012 adult Americans questioned by telephone..."

    And, as we all know, everyone answers phone calls from numbers they don't know. Or maybe the ones who answer don't HAVE Caller ID? Very representative population.

    July 23, 2014 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  3. Mike in Denver

    This is, historically, in line with 2nd term presidents.

    July 23, 2014 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  4. HUH?

    Because 0bama is SO inept and incompetent he has been reduced to being a fund raiser for the DNC. In way over his head he fly's to Seattle today to do another dog and pony show. PATHETIC!

    July 23, 2014 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  5. Ken

    Typical CNN. "Basically unchanged" – No actually the results have changed and the POTUS has lost yet another percentage point from 43% to 42% of Amercan's who believe he is qualified to do the job at hand. Had a Republican been in office you know the headline would be that his rating continues to fall.

    CG – Seriously, wake up! It's a two way street. Republicans resist him because everything he throws over the fence is of the "my way or the highway" approach. "one who is actually trying to help middle class and poor people". I have two issues with that statement. 1. I want a POTUS that is actually trying to help ALL AMERICANS not just a specific group of Americans. 2. At some point some of our fellow Americans have to stop waiting for help and go out and earn something.

    July 23, 2014 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  6. Anonymous

    Obama is a failure! I personally cannot wait for a new President, a President that will be in full support of anti-illegal immigration. If Obama had his way, and he more than likely will. He'd give amnesty and eliminate our borders, get rid of CBP, ICE. Just give the brah a chance for change.

    July 23, 2014 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  7. Nancy Pill-Owe-Me

    Obama demands $500 million to train terrorists in Syria.
    Obama demands $4 billion for illegal immigrant assistance programs.

    Obama's approval rate should be 100% for extremists that want to destroy Western civilization and criminals that blatantly violate US immigration laws.

    July 23, 2014 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  8. Severus

    Try to keep an open mind, but CNN is Pro democrat even when they make a mess of things. If ISIS supported the Dems, CNN would brag about them bringing stability to Northern Iraq. Nevermind they brought peace to the region by killing everyone! Kind of getting silly and pathetic.

    July 23, 2014 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  9. bob

    guess 42% of America is either democrat, misinformed or just plain stupid. How anyone can think this incompetent idiot is anywhere near good is a mystery. He is by far the single worst POTUS this country has ever had and hopefully will ever see. His legacy due to his incompetence (hopefully not) will be the catalyst to start of WWIII. 1/20/17 and counting as quickly as i can

    July 23, 2014 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  10. Anonymous

    The writer of this article clearly is pro-Obama. I'm a card carrying Republican but am okay with someone who will meet in the middle on major issues (Bill Clinton is a great example). Obama has not met in the middle with the Republicans on one issue that I am aware of. Very sad for someone who has been in office for close to 6 years.

    July 23, 2014 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  11. Rosie

    Is the color of Obama's skin supposed to cover for his incompetence? Answer: NO!
    Why do people like you continue to play this "race card" anyway?

    July 23, 2014 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  12. tony

    cnn is a joke of a news org they are so biased even if obama had 2 % rating they would say its a gop set up

    July 23, 2014 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  13. Jim

    Another joke poll. I'd be willing to bet it's in the low 30's (and that's being generous).

    July 23, 2014 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  14. JP

    You know whats cool? Every remaining living Republican commented on this thread. Thank God that you intractable morons are being peopled out. Minorities are growing in number while the old white right is dying off. Gives me some hope for the future. Hey though, at least you guys are going out kicking and screaming....

    July 23, 2014 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  15. Approvalratings

    The Approval rating is this bad and it mostly from his base, the right wing side doesn't have the time to take the poll, block the calls or simply are at work.
    His rating is far lower than 42%

    July 23, 2014 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  16. Norm

    Can't wait to see Hillary and the other Dems try run on their record.

    Christie/Cantor 2016

    Book it.

    July 23, 2014 10:48 am at 10:48 am |

    Only 42% believe that Obama can manage the government effectively. – YOU Think. He is going to get that base of approval from the wingnuts no matter how incompetent or indecisive he may be.

    July 23, 2014 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  18. El Warbo Grande

    @CG, you talk as if you are naive enough to think that Democrats don't resist everything a Republican president tries to do.

    I can't imagine Republicans would be half so resistant though, if Obama were ever willing to compromise on something. Instead, his attitude is "do this my way or I'll work around you". Have you ever heard a President utter the phrase "I will not negotiate" as often as this one does? And from day 1 he was doing this. The first thing he set to work on as President was forcing Obamacare through by bypassing the Democratic process against the interests of 60% of the country (according to polls at the time).

    When you refuse to negotiate, refuse to listen, and refuse to include, you will be opposed every step of the way.

    July 23, 2014 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  19. stagger72

    Even if I were qualified, you couldn't pay me enough to be the president. At best, only a slight majority of the population (with the exception of Kennedy at 70%) think you're adequately doing your job. Add to that the crushing pressure of world politics and it's no wonder that every president ages in dog years from the moment they enter the white house.

    July 23, 2014 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  20. sonnie3

    That number is about the same as the useful idiots that the democrats control. Here in Iowa his number is no where near 42 percent approval.

    July 23, 2014 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  21. Rudy NYC

    Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross..... on page 1:

    Good lord you act like he's running again. Stupid polls daily. I guess they've got nothing else to bash him about.
    Our eloquently cynical common friend would take one sniff of this article and would declare that CNN is subliminally putting Pres. Obama on the 2014 ballot for the right wing.

    July 23, 2014 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  22. Sergio Casselli

    I guess all the work the liberal media is doing by actually NOT covering ALL the screw-ups, scandals, and absence of leadership of Obama on any major conflict out there is paying off? What I still don't quite understand is how, relatively smart people, support a guy who is inept, and clueless as to how to govern. ALL he does is fundraising, and campaign. He has no other good quality a normal leader has. And here I thought people in my country of origin were clueless for electing the politicians we elected. America has indeed fell very low, not just in math scores, but in common sense, IMHO.

    July 23, 2014 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  23. thetruth

    And what is Republicans' approval rating? Last I heard it was low 20's...Guess they can't say much...

    July 23, 2014 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  24. El Warbo Grande

    @MaloryArcher, no, you'd be surprised to find out exactly how many people on the left really do think he is God. You could find of lots of examples, but one that comes to mind is when Jaimie Foxx referred to him as "our lord and savior Barack Obama" at the Soul Train awards and got cheers from the audience.

    July 23, 2014 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  25. Jan

    Not great but holding steady? What kind of headline is that? Why don't you report that his DISAPPROVAL rating is 58%??

    July 23, 2014 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22