February 20th, 2009
03:47 PM ET
5 years ago

Poll finds partisan opinions on bipartisanship

A new poll shows Americans want Obama to work more with Republicans.
A new poll shows Americans want Obama to work more with Republicans.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – A new national poll indicates that a majority of Americans want President Barack Obama to try to pass laws with bipartisan support rather than just with the backing of Democrats in Congress. But the CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey, released Friday, also suggests that Democrats aren't so enthusiastic about bipartisanship.

Fifty-five percent of respondents questioned in the poll would rather see the president try to pass laws with bipartisan compromise. But that number drops 15 points, to 40 percent, among Democrats in the survey. Fifty-eight percent of Democrats would rather see Obama try to pass laws without Republican support.

Full poll results [PDF]

Obama signed the stimulus package into law on Tuesday. The $787 billion bundle is designed to pump up the economy by increasing federal government spending, sending aid to states in fiscal trouble, and cutting taxes. The bill passed Congress less than four weeks after Obama took office. It passed the House of Representatives with no Republican support. In the Senate, three of the chamber's 41 Republicans backed the bill.

"Bipartisanship is always more popular with the party out of power than with the party that is in control," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

Democrats have wide majorities in both houses of Congress, but they are just shy of a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. A filibuster is a move by the minority party in the Senate to basically bring action in the chamber to a halt. Sixty votes are needed to break a filibuster and the Democrats currently hold 58 seats in the Senate.

Fifty-eight percent of those polled said they have a favorable opinion of the Democratic Party, down 2 points from December. Thirty-nine percent indicate they have a positive opinion of the Republican Party, also down 2 points from December.

Has the Republican Party taken a hit because it opposed the stimulus plan?

"Nothing much has changed," said CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider. "The GOP is still behind the Democrats. They haven't paid a price for opposing the plan but haven't made any gains either."

The survey's release comes one month after Obama's inauguration as president. Two out of three people questioned in the poll approve of the way Obama is handling the job. And more than seven in 10 think that he is a strong leader who inspired confidence and is tough enough for the job.

"But the public appears more attracted to Obama's personal characteristics than his stand on the issues, and they don't think he can end partisan gridlock in Washington, one of the key messages of Obama's presidential campaign," Holland said.

Public opinion about the president, while still fairly high, has dropped a bit since December on some measures, including 6- to 7-point losses on inspiring confidence and the president's ability to bring change.

"One exception is the number who say Obama is a strong leader," adds Holland. "That's grown to 80 percent, a sign that his attempts to look presidential in the past few weeks have paid off."

The number who said they agree with Obama on important issues dropped a bit as well, and although that figure is still over 60 percent, it is one of the lowest scores he received.

"That's a signal that Obama's personal appeal, rather than his stands on the issues, are boosting his overall ratings," Holland said.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll was conducted Wednesday and Thursday, with 1,046 adults questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.


Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (191 Responses)
  1. Proud American

    That's right....THE MAJORITY....OF AMERICANS... which are center-right, and not the liberal fringe that isalways splashed up on the news....want bipartisan agreement on bills. It's proper representation of the people, instead of merely letting the left-idiots destroy the country without being checked. This liberal crap has gone on long enough, and now the silent majority...is speaking...and you libs, well, your sunny day? The sun's setting because, ultimately when it comes to taking care of the nation, since it's inception, it's been the mindset of conservatives that has preserved our freedoms and way of life. I'm not saying republicans, but conservatives. The problem with this recent election is far too many unknowledgeable and just plain stupid folks were coerced or had their vote bought via a wave of ACORN corruption....Santelli...said it right...Why would anyone , be it liberal or conservative...think it's "fair," to pay your neighbor's mortgage because, for the most part, they've been irresponsible and careless? Screw the liberals...their time is done....

    February 20, 2009 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  2. Terri

    Here's what I don't get-there is no way that only 2 sets of opinions-Dems and Republicans exist. There are many shades of grey, so I'm seriously tired of republicans this, democrats that. Honestly at the end of the day, we all want pretty much the same thing-food for our families, health care when they get sick, a job, housing and some spending cash. Because it's unfortunately those with MONEY regardless of political affiliation that get what they want and they stir up controversy over gun rights and right to live/choice to distract from everything else. No President will have a chance to succeed if half the country wants him to fail just to prove a point and the other half wants him to push through an agenda. We have to start acting in the best interests of thsi country and put away the myth of Horatio Alger. Start callin for some accountability and stop treating politics like a sports game.

    February 20, 2009 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  3. AnnMM

    Bring back the real Republican party (PLEASE!) and not this group of over spending, billionaire tax cutting, evolution denying, bunch of right wing nutjobs and you could add my voice to the bipartisanship chorus. Until then, they caused these problems, how many chances can we afford to give them?

    February 20, 2009 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  4. Steven

    President Obama has only been in office for ONE month! The republicans had eight years to fix some things but, they could never stand up to Bush or give any alternatives to his terrible plans. It is because of republican guided de-regulation of banks and commerce that has led to our economic crisis. The lies that led to the war in Iraq have made our nation broke and less able to defend if a real problem should develop. The republicans were to busy dealing with all of the scandals, sexual and other, to handle any problems facing the nation. Anyone who judges Obama's performance at this point is just plain stupid.

    February 20, 2009 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  5. Ula Nejad Sacramento, Ca

    The lack of bipartansip shows lack of leadership and strategic planning needed to make wise decisions and comes with the responsibility of the office of the president. From my own experience working at the Prisons, respect must be set from the word get go. Trying to gain respect in the middle will be too late. It was the most amazing experience. You control that kind of environment, you feel you can control the world.

    February 20, 2009 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  6. Sniffit

    And the Webster's Dictionary defines "compromise" as:

    "a settlement of differences by arbitration or by consent reached by mutual concessions"

    Huh. I seem to remember there being concessions from the Dems in order to get the bill passed. I also seem to remember Republicans asking for those concessions. What I don't remember is the Republicans making any concessions, and why is that? Well, because their position was absolutist: our way or no way...ONLY tax cuts or nothing.

    February 20, 2009 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  7. Ron Christman

    I would have more confidence in this poll if the media hadn't featured the 20+ Republican politicians who ranted about Pelosi's mice (there were none), golf carts (also none) and Boehner's 'bill' that was 'half the cost with twice the jobs' (I Googled for an hour and couldn't find it). The media, including CNN, did more to create controversy about the stimulus by featuring far more Republicans than Democrats during the time that the bill was being written than they did to tell the whole story about the stimulus package.

    The simple facts are: We actually have a leader in the White House for a change; the Republicans still have no clue what it takes to help the middle class; and the media is far more interested in stirring up negatives than telling the truth. . . and I'm not just talking about FOX.

    February 20, 2009 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  8. Emilio

    CNN is just carrying water for the reich wing fascists who'd like nothing better than to destroy Barack Obama's presidency, because it furthers their push towards a plutocratic society of rich overloards and a minion of slaves.

    February 20, 2009 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  9. Larry from FLA

    The Republicans are smart to stay well away from any of the Large Obama bailout plans cause they will surely fail. History says all stimulus plans in countries around the world ALWAYS FAIL.! When people of USA see the giant failure of Obama's bailout plans, then the Republicans can say "See we did not vote for the Giant Failure econmic plans of the democrats!" Problem is Obama will economically have wrecked the USA by then. BAD TIMES are coming thanks to failed socialist ideology. The Federal Goverrnment(i.e. mostly democrats) caused this depression and their economic fixes will only make the depression deeper and longer". Japan tried 5 or 6 economic stimulus plans in the 90s and ALL FAILED! Only when Japan seriously cut taxes did their econmy start improving. Will the democrats(i.e. Socialists) ever learn?

    February 20, 2009 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  10. Sniffit

    And the Webster's Dictionary defines "compromise" as "a settlement of differences by arbitration or by consent reached by mutual concessions"

    Huh. I seem to remember there being concessions from the Dems in order to get the bill passed. I also seem to remember Republicans asking for those concessions. What I don't remember is the Republicans making any concessions, and why is that? Well, because their position was absolutist: ONLY tax cuts or nothing....our way or no way.

    February 20, 2009 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  11. Jeffery from DC

    But that's the thing: he's BEEN working with Republicans. I just don't see Republicans working with him. I also haven't been convinced, as a fiscal conservative myself, of anything in the stimulus bill that was just so outrageously wasteful. Clearly, tax cuts alone WILL NOT do the trick.

    However, I think the bill should have been written in a more collaborative fashion as opposed to having just House Democrats write it. I place less blame on Obama about the ever-raging partisanship in Washington. THIS TIME, (and maybe not next time), don't deride your president...write your representative/senator.

    February 20, 2009 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  12. Barbara

    President Obama has been in office 30 days, and already you been taking polls on his popularity. President Obama inherited a mess from the previous administration and those in Congress - the critics are simply doing what they do best - CRITICIZE. However, these same individuals had no problem passing a stimulus package for Wall Street. It doesn't matter whether it makes sense to them or not, they simply don't want to see progress being made for this new administration. So I admonish the media to forego all this nonsense on President Obama 's status in the polls and for once report on what the administation is doing to restore and revive this country, Working dliigently to move us forward. President Obama and his Administration inherited 8 years of irresponsible governing and it's going to take some time to turn this around. One thing the critics can't say, is that our President made every effort to get bi-partisan support for the Recovery Bill. Since they were not wise enough to give their support, they need to stop whining.

    February 20, 2009 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  13. Dave From Philly

    Wow... way to go Dems....

    You're whining about Repubs not wanting to go accross party lines when you don't.... hypocrites

    and I'm not a repub... Moderate...

    Both parties are stupid and stubborn and don't know how to work with eachother.

    February 20, 2009 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  14. No Incumbents 2010

    When the Libs are in power bipartisan means – GOP you need to move to the left

    When the Gop is is in power – The libs say GOP please move to the left.

    February 20, 2009 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  15. Don

    The Republicans are an absolute embarrassment to our nation at this delicate time.

    February 20, 2009 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  16. Sniffit

    Webster's Dictionary defines "compromise" as "a settlement of differences by arbitration or by consent reached by mutual concessions."
    I seem to remember the Republicans asking for concessions from the Dems in order to get the bill passed and the Dems giving in to them. What I don't remember is the Republicans making any concessions, and why is that? Well, because their position was absolutist: ONLY tax cuts or nothing....our way or no way. Compromise does not exist in their world, but they will blame the other side anyway.

    February 20, 2009 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  17. Left Coast Mike, Laguna Niguel, CA

    Let the "R: party rot to its core. We no longer care what Mr. Bonehead Boehner thinks, nor what the RNC thinks, about anything. They have nothing, nada. zero to offer in the way of an alternative approach to solve the problems hey and that dumbo W created. It is already documented fact that he stimulus package just enacted into law is already financing construction projects that are underway. Six months from now, these goobers will still have nothing to say, and more projects will be up and running. If these "R" people don't get with the program and try to help this country get back on its feet after doing so much to rip its fabric apart over the past 8 years, then they will become the "Bull Moose" party, yeah, the big B.M., by 2010, and then just fade into irrelevancy. That might not be such a bad thing.

    February 20, 2009 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  18. Kenneth

    Lets just stop pretending and look at the Senate in direct contrast with society. The recent statements on race relations is being proven true right under our noses. Republicans do not have the best interest of society as a whole in mind. The main concern of the RNC is to ensure that corporations are not restricted in the manner in which they accumulate and distribute funds.

    The trickle down theory, which has been proven ineffective (see last eight years), is the core belief of republican senators and therefore they will never offer bipartisan opinions. On the other hand democrats are more middle America oriented in that they try to put into place legislation that they believe would be beneficial for working class Americans. The ideologies of the two are so separate that there cannot be true bipartisanship.

    Therefore the senate is as distorted and biased as our current status with race relations. No one wants to budge on their ideologies regardless of the betterment of society as a whole. Until the issues that separate us can be resolved we will continually find it difficult to progress beyond our current situation.

    February 20, 2009 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  19. Ellie White

    President Obama did not get our country in trouble we are in and he, alone cannot get it out. Where were all the naysayers when the country was on a downward slide several ytears ago? This mess did not happen on January 20th – the day he was sworn into office. We are all in it together and if some of the "know-it-alls and smarty pants" were so smart- then why did you not run for President, get elected and flip your magic baton and all would be well.

    February 20, 2009 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  20. Carl from Utah

    How can we get bipartisan efforts from the idealogue obstructionist Republicans in the Senate and the House? They blindly oppose everything the President wants, and then accuse the President and the Democrats of being partisan when they push back.
    This is ridiculous. I think a majority of Americans can see what is going on here. It's the same old game of right vs left.
    I think its a darn good thing that we have a Democratic majority because most of these Republicans, including that old fake maverick McCain are far more interested in doing nothing for their own political positioning than they are in doing something about the nation's problems that are affecting us.
    Endless talk with no action is the conservative forte, as it has been for years.
    It has been suggested recently that Rush Limpblaub is the most well-known GOP spokesman at this time. I think this is about right.
    I wonder, are all Republicans on Vicodin like old Rushie?
    Watch for the continuiation of the long slow decline of the Republican party. What's next, a resugence of the Whig party?

    February 20, 2009 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  21. Joe Unger, San Francisco

    Partisan opinions on bipartisanship? Hilarious and how typically American. Like this article says, it's the party out of power who talks bipartisanship. A few years ago, the Dems were crying about this and were angry about Repub attempts to eliminate the filibuster. Now, new party in power, same crybaby tactics, just the sides have been reversed.
    I support the Dems but it's infantile to say we don't need to do this because the Repubs didn't. If you say this is okay right now, then logically it was okay when the Repubs did it. It's more of a case of two wrongs don't make a right. When the power shifts again, the same angry Obamaniacs blasting bipartisanship now, will be preaching its virtues then.
    Nation of whiners? Yes.
    Nations of cowards? I don't think so.
    Nation of babies? Oh heck yeah.

    February 20, 2009 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  22. Kevin in Ohio

    I give up. Democrats are in complete power now, and they obviously will never listen to anything from the other side of the aisle. Lets just let them carry on and destroy the country. We'll spend the next 20 years undoing the damage.

    By the way...those who blame Bush.... let's not forget who caused this mess by forcing banks to lend money to those who had no business borrowing it in the first place....Chris Dodd, Barney Frank, etc etc. Is it any wonder that Octomom still feels she is entitled to a 1 million dollar home?

    February 20, 2009 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  23. Daniel

    Hey, at least Barack tried to be bipartisan. Too bad the Republicans were too busy worshipping their Ronald Reagan idols to cooperate with him.

    February 20, 2009 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  24. Emilio

    I wish Obama would stops taking the high road with these destructive forces whose aims are the termination of the American way of life. Time to put on the knuckledusters and show that we mean business; we have a country to rescue from the forces of evil, the Greedy Obstructionist Party.

    February 20, 2009 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  25. C W

    Obama is doing his best to work in a bipartisan way – it's not his fault that Republicans believe in "our way or the highway". The Republicans need to compromise and start putting the country first, and not their political agenda.

    If the Republicans' ideas were so wonderful and effective, we wouldn't be in the mess we're currently in. They have absolutely no reason to expect people to want to do things their way when the results have been so abysmal.

    February 20, 2009 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
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