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.