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. Tommy

    Barney Frank sure is doing a great job at dealing with the ignoramouses
    in those meetings.

    August 19, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  2. Susan

    Since the slogans being chanted and the statements being screamed at the politicians are lies from the right, and very easy to dispel if one cares to look things up, the near riots and gun-toting idiots are not changing the discussion. What it is doing is angering the people who have legitimate concerns and real questions. They are not being heard. There are other bills besides 3200 and a couple of them (Kuchinich's 676,) should be talked about. But since Palin and others decided to make up things about 3200, that is the one we've heard about.

    August 19, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  3. kmp

    Unfortunately they are and not for the best. Our elected officals are allowing the loudest naysayers determine policy, these are the same naysayers who said it was un-american and unpatriotic to question President Bush on the Iraq war. So I challenge my fellow americans who truly desire reform to speak up and try to truly inspire a real honest debate with or without these stupid people elected or not I don't care.

    August 19, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  4. Kate in SW Fla

    Only to make me even more sure I do NOT want Republicans to run anything again. They are mean, violent and complete liars.

    August 19, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  5. Aunt Bea and Opie

    Yes it did,now we are convinced that the Insurance Companies are nothing more than Corporate Fascists,that will stop at nothing to secure their profits and ready themselves with golden parachutes for their retirement years.Every CEO of these companies need their photos shown so we know who they are.

    August 19, 2009 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  6. Proud Member..Party of No

    It's not the town hall protests that are changing minds, it's the fact that people have now had time to read the bill and they realize it's more socialism from Obama. That's what's changing minds.

    August 19, 2009 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  7. T from Texas

    "Nineteen percent said the coverage makes them feel less favorable of Obama's plans, and 16 percent say more favorable."

    Please tell the person who writes copy that you either use number symbols (16) or write out the numbers (nineteen), but you don't mix the two in the same sentence. Journalist and editors should know this.

    August 19, 2009 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  8. Texas Pioneer

    The Democrats floated the possibility of no public health care last Sunday. I hope there are enough of us to let you know how disgusted we are.
    The town halls are not changing the mind of the people that sent them to Congress and the White House,but it is sure changing the minds of enough spineless Democratic politicians to see this thing go down in smoke.
    The loosers that are at these afternoon meetings don't have jobs and are probably on Medicaid of Medicare. I work all day and have rotten Health Care benefits that I can no longer afford. I can't get the time off to hold up a sign and yell back. BUT I DO VOTE.
    I waited in a long line to vote for this President he needs to spend his political capital on this issue. GROW A BACK BONE OBAMA
    In four years we will be ready for a change.

    August 19, 2009 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  9. Michele

    The only thing that has changed with me is that I now see the NRA as a huge threat to peace in this country. When they are urging people to legally carry LOADED guns around their towns, they are begging for a murder to happen. I do not care what the 2nd amendment says, there is no reason to walk around like it's Dodge City in 1875, or Kabul in 2009. These guys (and they are men, aren't they?) seem to need a loaded gun to feel superior to everyone else. Be a real man and leave the guns at home, locked in a cabinet so no more kids die.

    August 19, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  10. Andrea

    I think the protests have shown just how ignorant and backward thinking some Americans are. What happened to showing respect? Disagree, you have the right. But does it have to stoop to bullying? President Obama walks softly but carries a big stick. I believe this Health Care Reform legislation will pass including the public health option. I think he has decided to take the high road and just keep quiet and let the votes speak for themselves. Shouting people down and acting low class will solve nothing except ensure a second term for President Obama. So keep up the good work dissenters. Luvs it!

    August 19, 2009 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  11. see the light

    Yes these outrageous, disruptive tactics show mainstream America how radical these people are.Most of the screamer's are just un-informed President Obama haters, and will hurt what is left of the Republican party in the long run.

    August 19, 2009 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  12. Enough

    Since when does Nancy Pelosi care what the people want?? The Majority of Americans are against the proposed health care bill, but that won't stop the Democrats from doing what they want. Too bad the people don't get to vote on what we want.

    August 19, 2009 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  13. Dean

    No the town hall meeting did not change my mind. They did however enlighten me to how ignorant the GOP and the followers have become. The outright lies and hatred being spewed by the talking heads on Faux News is horrible

    August 19, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  14. Hugo

    Why isn't this thughocrat in jail yet with Blagojevich? Maybe instead of voting in these nepotistic icons in over and over we should all be making sure none of them ever hold public office again.

    August 19, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  15. Kevin B

    The media coverage , If you call Fox, MSNBC or CNN media; has done a great disservice to the american public by sensationalising the negative town hall meetings and not getting out ahead of the lies, distortions and untruths being push by opponents of health reform.

    I suppose ratings and stoking conflict between americans in order to have a story trump's the truth with these "news" organizations.

    Yellow journalism is alive and well in america.

    August 19, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  16. Kevin B

    I suppose ratings and stoking conflict between americans in order to have a story trump's the truth with these "news" organizations.

    Yellow journalism is alive and well in america.

    August 19, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  17. bozo the obama

    just say no to any Jackson, especially from Illinois, the land of the corrupt,

    August 19, 2009 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  18. Grassroot

    Same old people posting under different names, same dumb ideas and idiotic comments.

    August 19, 2009 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  19. RealityKing

    "A NBC News survey.." HaHaHaHaHaHaHa!!!!

    August 19, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  20. Dale

    Barney Frank's response to individuals at the Town Hall meeting yesterday is going to be remembered like Joseph Welch at the Army-McCarthy Hearings. Have these people no decency? All they have shown is that they A) have NOT read the bill and B) don't care about the bill, only that they get some kind of "win" over Obama and the Democrats.

    This could have been a chance for a real dialogue between the public and those in power. Instead, these individuals thought they were going on the Jerry Springer Show. The one good that has come out of it is that people are actually reading the bill, and discovering that the naysayers don't know what they're talking about. The protestors may even believe their lies, but fortunately the public at large can now see right through them.

    August 19, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  21. Dave

    What did Hitler say "Tell the people a big enough lie they will believe it". This is what's happening now go to CNN fact checks and see all the rights arguments most of what they are saying are lies then check polls people rather buy a lie than the truth.

    August 19, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  22. See you in 2010

    Considering the way the Obama rumpswab media has downplayed these REGULAR FOLKS as being hateful racists that are just mobs, the negative number should be higher.

    The bottom line here is real simple even for you sheep, the CHANGE in getting America back starts in 2010 and will continue in 2012 and the admin and the other Democrats with their spending, stupidity and arrogance in calling regular folks names wil be their downfall.

    Thank you for proving that absolute power corrupts absolutely.

    Experiment brutally failed.

    August 19, 2009 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  23. Kevin in Ohio

    An NBC News poll....need we say more????? NBC even has Obama memorabilia in its company store.

    August 19, 2009 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  24. phoenix mattress

    the town hall protests weren't exactly intended to change people's minds on health care. what i would like to see is a nationally televised discussion between the leading conservative talk show hosts and their liberal counterparts.

    August 19, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  25. Idiot_Pelosi

    Oh yeah, support a plan endorsed by that crook Jesse Jackson Jr.

    Dirty Politician.

    August 19, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
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