February 20th, 2009
03:47 PM ET
9 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. Dutch/Hampton Roads, VA

    Forget bipartisanship. The republicans have proven to me how bipartisan they want to be during the stimuls debate. They are the party of NO. Senator Bonehead Boehner and the rest of his cronies can sit back and criticize for the remainig 3 years and 11 months.

    February 20, 2009 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  2. republicans hate america

    thats because republicans are failures and we want nothing to do with them period.

    February 20, 2009 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  3. You know the Republican party is toxic when ... Palin bails on NRCC & CPAC

    Why is Boehner's nose darker than the rest of his fake, orange, Coppertoned face? We all know where he just pulled it out from, that's why. George Bush is still smilin'. Boot lickin' drama queen!

    February 20, 2009 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  4. Gwen Ermlich

    Good Lord, what ever happened to gratitude!!!

    I am so happy that we finally have someone in office who can speak and think at the same time. He's only been in charge for days and we all think we have the right to push him for more action or just bitch. Where was all that pushing in the last eight years. Have you already forgotten the joy of Grant Park. How about a little support and encouragement and give the guy a chance and a helping hand.

    February 20, 2009 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  5. Dave From Philly

    and what's up with everyone complaining about critizism towards Obama? THAT'S WHAT HAPPENS WITH PRESIDENTS!

    You're SUPPOSED to give them crap
    You're SUPPOSED to keep an eye on them

    But you ARE supposed to support them... no matter what.

    And people didn't give Bush a lot of slack even before 9/11.. and the reason a lot of people voted him for a second term was because we were still at war... that is why Roosevelt was elected FOUR times! It looks weak when you switch leadership during war.

    As for all these people placing blame on the economy because of the policies put in place for the past eight years... why don't you blame yourselves? STOP BUYING THINGS YOU CAN'T AFFORD! STOP BUYING STOCK FROM BANK LOANS THAT YOU KNOW PEOPLE WON'T PAY BACK! You're all idiots and so am I... although I didn't get a loan in the past eight years except credit cards and a car... I'm gonna be paying for that soon enough too....

    Look to yourselves first, then others... then back to yourselves

    February 20, 2009 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  6. Joel in San Clemente

    Bipartisanship = The minority just blindly agreeing with the majority.

    February 20, 2009 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  7. r sisk, nevada

    Can someone please tell me what a Republican is nowadays?

    Certainly after the Bush debacle, not fiscally conservative or less government. I can't help but think the GOP has lost it's direction so their only mode of operation is to disagree with whatever the DEMS. want.

    February 20, 2009 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  8. Sniffit

    What the American public really wants to see is their representatives acting like mature adults...grown-ups who understand and accept that they are not going to get EVERYTHING they want ALL the time and may have to make sacrifices at times to get SOME of what they want. THAT is bipartisanship....not splitting things equally or based on representative ratios or making EVERYBODY happy ALL of the time.

    What we're entirely sick of is the temper-tantrum throwing toddlers who stick their fingers in their ears, scream "LALALALALALALALALA!!!!!" while stomping their feet and scattering legislation all over the House chambers because they didn't get EXACTLY what they wanted and can't stand not to be in control.

    February 20, 2009 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  9. Casey | Sebastopol, CA

    Politicians are just like dogs - in a pack, dogs often behave like the wolves they descend from. It doesn't matter if they are poodles or pugs. The Republican hounds are howling at the moon just for the sake of howling.

    Until Congress culls these curs - starting with Bush and Cheney, I'm not listening to Republicans (or the media) whine about ethical behavior or bipartisanship.

    I love that the new pack leader is calling for responsibility, accountability and transparency but I am a realist - I know you cannot teach old dogs new tricks. I just hope that when Obama lies down with Republican mutts in the effort to be bipartisan, that he doesn't wake up with their fleas.

    February 20, 2009 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  10. John Tiller in Dallas Texas

    Everyone of the Republicans needs to sit down and shut up. We tried their way and it failed. I hope Obama bulldozes right over al those idiots

    February 20, 2009 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  11. REG in AZ

    Who's responsibility is bipartisanship? It is exceedingly ridiculous to accept the Republicans' unified and stubborn resistance to any cooperation and then to credit their criticism of Obama as not accomplishing bipartisanship. No one can be serious when following that irrational and totally biased logic. It can even be taken one step further and question the Republicans sincerity in being responsible and actually concerned for the publics' best interest rather than just their own political interests.

    February 20, 2009 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  12. Farrell, Houston, Tx


    February 20, 2009 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  13. Mari

    Why am I not surprised that the far-right continue their typical vile-obstructionist politics??!!

    We, the People, rejected the old-trickle-down politics.

    We rejected the holier-than-thou-only-we-are-real-American politics!

    And We, the People, are watching closely how the GOP behaves during this National Crisis........ called the........ BUSH DISASTER.


    February 20, 2009 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  14. Sniffit

    And as a corollary to my last post: it's not just that the American public WANTS that from its elected representatives...we NEED it. The untiy and cohesiveness of our society is at stake and yet somehow we still have politicians using divisiveness as a leveraging tactic. BRILLIANT.

    February 20, 2009 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  15. Felly

    GOP–The Grand Obstructionist Party is shrinking. They have no leadership while yielding to Rush Limbaugh. No new ideas on how to run a country other than Taxes. Where were these idiots when Bush was spending like drunken sailors in Iraq? Whatch them lose more elections two years from now.

    February 20, 2009 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  16. Rob

    The official Democrat mantra: "BOHICA" (Bend Over, Here It Comes Again). Well on their way to screwing up the country.

    Hey, business (which oddly enough is what is REALLY needed to get the country going) doesn't think this is change we can believe in.

    But hey, America's strong. We'll survive. The Dems are screwing themselves into irrelevancy.

    February 20, 2009 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  17. Saundra Waecker

    We Americans that play by the rules, pay our taxes our mortgage, send our kids to college on our dime, are watching whatever resources we have diminishing. I believe that this Administration wants our economy to fail so it can be built back in a truly socialist image. They want a power base from the so called disadvantaged.They want a dependent class that will keep them in power. Those of us who have actually had economics understand socialism doesnt want a middle class. WE are mad as Hell and if there were tea in the harbor I'd be the first on the boat to throw it overboard. I dont want to pay for those who only want to drink the water. Are you all so in the tank for this Administration that you will watch your country be destroyed financially.

    February 20, 2009 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  18. songbird-fl

    what a bunch of losers they're really theatrical....how about a helping hand and stop being the Grand Obstructionist Party for a change.

    February 20, 2009 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  19. beckyinOhio

    To Gene: AMEN!
    I amazes me the people who do not realize that they ARE the recipients of socialist programs on a daily basis.

    I am so tired of right using that scare tactic.

    February 20, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  20. Debbie

    Give President Obama a break PLEASE! The man has only been in office about a month and anyone who believes that things would be changed within this amount of time is not living in reality. It took 2 terms for our previous president to bring down our economy. To expect some instant miracles anywhere, is downright ignorant. It is going to be a slow and painful process. He's not going to be able to please everyone. No one can. It takes more than a president to make changes. He can not control all the egos involved within the Senate and the House. If you want to get on anyone's case, start with the people who represent your own state. Make call and emails. Get involved in what means something to you.

    February 20, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  21. Jill-In

    Republicans are not behaving in a bipartisan way; they are posturing and bickering. GOP – goofy old party.

    February 20, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  22. TjayeInLA

    That's because we know the Republicans idea of bipartisan is "their way"

    February 20, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  23. Dave From Philly


    You would still have to pay the Fire Department a fee even in a socialist society... that's why it's socialist

    Anything socialized is paid for through taxes so everyone is covered through it... but there's some cons to it
    England – Dentists (when first starting out) are under the socialized healthcare.. working for peanuts pretty much. Then once they've established themselves they can become private practice... thats why there's a stereotype of bad teeth in Brittain.

    I personally enjoy the plusses that come from the competition of Capitalism.. that's why we have better millitary and better medicine (not healthcare, medicine) because they're trying to get the best product out and get more money... Competition stems leaps and bounds

    February 20, 2009 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  24. eugene

    wall street's angry.they speculation drove the housing,finance,oil markets new president's policy threatens their bonuses because they use taxpayer money.so they have a temper tantrum to drive the markets down till they get their way.

    February 20, 2009 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  25. Sniffit

    It's simple: look up the word compromise in the dictionary. Then, ask yourself which side made concessions. That's right, the Dems did. Did the GOP make concession? No. None. Their position was aboslutist and they refused to negotiate because they only wanted tax cuts and would not concede to having any spending whatsoever in the bill. Case closed. They just don't want Obama and the Dems taking credit for anything pro-active. They want tax cuts tax cuts tax cuts to reduce the tax revenue and deplete the capital with which Obama and the Dems would otherwise be able to use to pursue their agenda. They want to cut the legs out from under teh administration and then play the blame game in 2010 and 2012. Go ahead, prove me wrong.

    February 20, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
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