A new CNN poll taken a day after Barack Obama’s Oval Office speech delivered more bad news to the White House. The poll shows 59% disapproval over Obama’s handling of the crisis in the Gulf of Mexico, an increase of eight points since May 21-23 survey. Approval has dropped from 46% to 41%, making an 13-point shift in approval in three weeks. The result shows that Obama’s speech failed to repair his damaged position and build his credibility on his competence.
Bear in mind that this poll has some issues. First, unlike the previous poll, CNN conducted it in a single day. It also only consists of 534 respondents, a little low for a national survey. CNN didn’t include all of the questions, apparently holding some data for later release. There is no data on the partisan-affiliation breakdown of the sample, for instance.
Obama’s overall job approval narrowed into a virtual tie, 50/48, in this survey, down from 51/46 three weeks ago. Unfortunately, that’s about as popular as he gets in this survey. Two thirds of respondents (67%) say Obama hasn’t been “tough enough” in his response, while only 26% say he’s gotten the toughness quotient correct. Almost three quarters (74%) disapprove of the federal response in the Gulf so far. Eighty-two percent approve of the creation of the escrow account by BP, but the question got asked in a misleading manner:
Creating a fund of billions of dollars to compensate workers and businesses that have been affected by the oil spill that would be paid by BP but administered by a neutral party[?]
The administration won’t come from a “neutral party.” That implies a private-sector trustee or receiver who would presumably have no conflicts of interest with either BP or the businesses and individuals impacted by the spill. Instead, the White House appointed an existing administration figure, “pay czar” Kenneth Feinberg, to control the money on behalf of the White House. Unless that question got asked specifically, CNN offered a misleading interpretation, and the answer should be entirely discounted as a result.
The poll has one ray of sunshine, albeit dim: 54% of respondents trust the federal government over BP to run the cleanup. Right now, considering BP’s public image, that qualifies as damnation through faint praise.