August 19th, 2009
12:59 PM ET
5 years ago

Poll: Are town hall protests changing minds?

WASHINGTON (CNN) – As President Barack Obama's health care reform proposals face opposition this month at town halls across the country, a new poll indicates Americans' opinions of the president's plans, and of how he's handling the issue, have not changed.

More than six in ten people questioned in an NBC News survey released Tuesday say coverage in the media of the town hall protests have not changed their feelings regarding the president's health care proposals. Nineteen percent said the coverage makes them feel less favorable of Obama's plans, and 16 percent say more favorable.

The poll suggests that Americans are divided on whether the protests have been helpful to the debate over health care reform, with 43 percent saying they've done more harm than good and 42 percent saying more good than harm.

The survey also indicates that protests have not affected opinions of the president's performance on the issue. According to the poll, 41 percent support how Obama's handling the issue of health care reform, with 47 percent opposed. The 41 percent who support the president is unchanged from an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll from mid-July, before Congress began its summer recess and intense media coverage of protests at health care town halls held by lawmakers. The 47 percent who oppose Obama's health care performance is up a single point from last month.

A Gallup poll released last week also suggested that the president's approval on health care is unchanged from last month.

"If the town hall protests were meant to sway public opinion, it appears that has not happened so far," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "If they were meant to sway the votes of members of Congress, we won't know whether they were successful until Congress returns from its summer break - and maybe not even then."

The NBC News poll was conducted August 15-17, with 805 adults questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.


Filed under: Health care
soundoff (109 Responses)
  1. Walter

    So all the brown-shirt tactics haven't helped the Republicans one bit! That should feel uncomfortably familiar to them. Shades of 2008!

    And before they go any farther, the town hall good squads should remember what right-wing leadership does with brown-shirts when they are no longer useful. They send the black-shirts after them in the middle of the night.

    August 19, 2009 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  2. Ryan, Omaha

    Why has the DNC received the scrutiny of packing town halls with their own mobs? They have openly admitted to inciting people to go, providing them signs, and talking points. I belong to the RNC, they have not sent me anything? Who is playing politics?

    August 19, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  3. beevee

    The townhall protests are staged events financed and supported by special interest groups and conservative GOPs. If any one has a bit of thinking mind they will not be influenced by those idiots who stage the protests like hooligans.

    August 19, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  4. Lynda/Minnesota

    As I mentioned with the Gallup poll, google the NBC poll and read the data. Wording was changed in this new poll from wording of the last NBC poll. The data suggests other biases as well - see if you can find them.

    August 19, 2009 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  5. Reality, NC

    hasn't changed my mind. It has been like watching a cheap reality show or Jerry Springer. Not main stream America

    August 19, 2009 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  6. S M R

    One thing for sure is that these Hillbillies are a laughing stock of the world.

    August 19, 2009 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  7. Laura See

    Can Media polls be trusted? You can't trust their stories, and even more appalling, important issues and legislation they don't cover. But we should trust their polls?

    August 19, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  8. Regressive Party Refugee (former republican)

    Well, if shouting like an ill behaved four year old pitching a tantrum can, then yes, it will. With the others that have the intellect of a four year old.

    For us democrats, no, it just reinforces the perception that republicans only want to shout others down and physically intimidate and threaten, tactics that conveniently have NOTHING to do with the facts. Tactics employed every day by their thought leaders, Hannity, Beck, OReilly, Limbaugh, Savage, etc.

    August 19, 2009 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  9. Len in Washington

    What the Town Halls ARE doing is showing the world how some people in this country are perfectly willing to scream, rant and rave about things they know nothing about.

    I'm sorry, but almost every screaming person I have grudgingly watched at these meetings has based their rant on misinformation or outright untruths.

    This is a serious discussion that requires serious debate. If you want to believe your neighbor (who knows no more than you) or some wacko on the internet, radio or TV rather than actually INVESTIGATING the FACTS then understand that no sane person is going to listen to you.

    You change no minds with outrageous behavior. You only strengthen your opponents.

    August 19, 2009 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
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