September 14th, 2009
03:23 PM ET
5 years ago

CNN Poll: Americans divided on President's health care plans

Americans divided on President's health care plans.
Americans divided on President's health care plans.


WASHINGTON (CNN) -
In the wake of President Barack Obama's nationally televised speech to Congress last week, a new national poll indicates that the president's approval rating is on the rise. But the CNN/Opinion Corporation survey (pdf) released Monday also suggests that the president's personal popularity has not translated into widespread support for his health care reform proposals.

Fifty-eight percent of people questioned in the poll approve of how Obama's handling his duties in the White House. That's up 5 points from late August. Forty-percent of those questioned disapprove of how Obama's doing his job, down five points since last month.

The survey was conducted Friday through Sunday, after the president addressed a joint session of Congress. The health care reform speech occurred at 8 pm ET, prime time across much of the nation.

The poll also indicates that Americans remain split on the president's plans on health care reform, with 51 percent favoring Obama's proposals and 46 percent opposed. Late last month, 48 percent of people questioned in a CNN survey backed the president's health care proposals, and 51 percent oppose them.

"Opposition remains close to pre-speech levels, but the intensity of the opposition has dropped significantly," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "The number who say they 'strongly oppose' Obama's plan has dropped 9 points."

The poll, not surprisingly, points to a partisan divide over health care, with eight in 10 Democrats favoring the president's plans, and a similar number of Republicans opposing Obama. Independents appear split, with 50 percent opposed and 46 percent in favor of the president's proposals.

The survey also indicates a generational divide.

"The speech appears to have done little to change the views of some of Obama's most important critics - senior citizens," says Holland. "A majority of Americans over the age of 65 continue to oppose his plan, and 44 percent of seniors say that Medicare recipients would be worse off under the Obama plan." Obama's approval rating also remains below 50 percent among seniors, says Holland.

Probably the public's biggest concern is the effect of Obama's plan on federal spending. Although Obama sought to reassure Americans in his speech, three-quarters of those polled said they think his plan will lead to an increase in the federal deficit.

Most also say that Obama's plan will eventually lead to a complete takeover of the health care system by the federal government. Nearly half say that Obama's plan will boost the amount they personally pay for medical care. The public is split over whether the government would provide insurance to illegal immigrants under the Obama plan.

But the president scored on at least one point: most say that Obama's plan would not lead to senior citizens or seriously-ill patients dying because a government panel would prevent them from getting medical treatment.

"Forty-one percent believe that Obama's plan will lead to government panels withholding life-or-death treatments from patients," Holland says. "That's a minority, but it's a pretty sizeable one, and that could spell trouble for the White House."

As for the Republicans, six in 10 say they have been obstructing Obama for political reasons. Only a third believe that the GOP has generally offered constructive criticism.

Eighty-five percent say that Rep. Joe Wilson's yelling of "you lie" to the president during the address to a joint session of Congress was inappropriate. The poll indicates that about third agree with the South Carolina Republican lawmaker's contention that Obama lied during his speech.

According to the poll, Democrats overwhelming approve of how the president's doing his job, with three out of four Republicans saying they disapprove. Independents appear split, with 51 percent approving and 46 percent disapproving of how Obama's handling his duties in the Oval Office.

The survey indicates that 54 percent of Americans approve of how the president's handling the economy, up 5 points from late August. Fifty-seven percent of those questioned approve of how Obama's dealing with health care, up 7 points from late last month. The poll suggests that the president's up 7 points on the issue of taxes, from 45 percent to 52 percent, up 10 points on how he's dealing with the federal budget deficit, from 36 percent to 46 percent, and up 4 points, to 58 percent, on foreign affairs.

"Polls typically find a rise in a president's approval rating after a major speech to Congress, and frequently his ratings improve even on topics that his speech did not address. But the real question is whether Obama can make any post-speech gains stick - something that presidents sometimes have trouble accomplishing." says Holland. "In September, 1993, for example, Bill Clinton's approval rating rose 10 points after his health care speech to Congress, but within three weeks he his approval rating was virtually back to his pre-speech levels."

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation telephone poll of 1,012 Americans adult Americans was conducted 9/11-13. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

– CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report


Filed under: Health care • President Obama
soundoff (75 Responses)
  1. gt

    he is a liar

    September 14, 2009 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  2. J.P.

    The "next 100 days" are over.

    Where are the 600K new jobs, chump?

    Obama lied. His crediblity died.

    September 14, 2009 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  3. mike,texas

    The republicans by never proposing a bill against ,approved of healthcare to illegals and now they say they are against it.HR3200 says in writing illegals dont qualify.So what is all this lying stuff really about.

    September 14, 2009 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  4. Randolph Carter, rammin' reform down yer throats

    Well, here's how it works: We have the house of representatives in which states are represented relative to population size. A public option would easily pass here because a majority of people want it. Then you got the senate. Each state gets two senators no matter the size of the population. New York or Idaho, you get two. The public option is doomed to fail here because certain more conservative states get equal representation with more progressive states with much larger populations. So, in effect, real healthcare reform is doomed because it will be blocked by representatives of the southern and midwestern, I hate to say it: hick states. It's a tyranny of the minority. Oh well, we get what we deserve once again and the rest of the industrialized world is laughing at us. Have a nice day!

    September 14, 2009 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  5. J.P.

    Obama = King Midas in Reverse

    September 14, 2009 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  6. Steph

    The people who don't want a government health care option are either already on medicare or medicaid or will be at some time in their lives.

    I have a solution. Everyone who is demonizing health care reform and "big government" can sign a statement saying they will pay no more taxes, but then they can't drive on our roads, send their kids to public school, complain about any company's non-compliance with government laws (ADA, minimum wage, labor laws, bank regulations, etc...), visit any national parks, expect the police or fire departments to assist them when they need it, AND they can never accept unemployment compensation, social security OR any health care assistance. I won't even start with what the miliarty won't be doing to protect them.

    September 14, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  7. Darth Vadik, CA

    At one point a majority of Americans also supported segregation, but most people came around to their senses.

    Same thing with healthcare, people have been brainwashed to think that the government cant do anything right...

    ...except provide a solid police force, unrivaled military, fearless firefighters, the FDA which protects consumers against buying poisons, build roads we use today,provide workmen protection against unfair treatment towards women, child labor laws, etc etc etc...

    September 14, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  8. I Support President Obama!

    I fully support President Obama and no one polled me!

    September 14, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  9. joan

    wats up with the president picture in the dark?

    Just asking...

    September 14, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  10. republicans = terrorists

    No one polled me but this President has my FULL support!

    September 14, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  11. Gerald

    Was the poll conducted by ACORN ?

    September 14, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  12. Enlightened Voter

    He's got my support!

    September 14, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  13. Jerry

    Funny how the poll equates exactly the same as 50% pay taxes and 50% do not pay taxes, Amazing is'nt it

    September 14, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  14. Duck Fallas

    40 percent of this country is mentally ill.

    September 14, 2009 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  15. Illinois 2

    As a life long democrat, I would like more answers and alot more time to get any form of healthcare reform correct.

    First the congress and senate should present legislation to regulate the insurance companies, this includes medicare and medicaid, also drug companies to include the limited use of advertising that cost such large amounts of money that could be used to lower cost. Doctors are the only ones that can presribe these medicines anyway....

    September 14, 2009 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  16. Jerry

    This poll of 1,012 people is supposed to represent the 370 million people in the U.S. How is that even possible? Look, the people have spoken (loudly) and they do not want government messing with their health care period. On top of that Obama still doesnt' know how he is going to pay for it, and the parts that he says he does know how are coming from senior citizens, who need it the most, over 500 billion from senior citizens. Obama has given over 30 speeches on healthcare and he still can't tell us how he is going to pay for it. I voted for Obama and this is not the change I wanted or beleived in.

    September 14, 2009 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  17. Poll this

    When you seeing President Obama give one more speech one more time, to one more crowd, how does it make you feel?

    A. I get a warm fuzzy glow.
    B. I speak in fluent four letter words.
    C. I shoot out my T.V. (while I still have a gun)

    September 14, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  18. Jeb

    If CNN says that Americans are divided, then that means most are in favor of it. Contrary to popular opinion among the wingnuttery, most of the media is owned by conservatives. Liberal media bias is an urban legend.

    September 14, 2009 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  19. NO MORE REPUBLICANS!

    I have a conscience, care about my country and am a PROUD LIBERAL DEMOCRAT who supports the President's agenda but no one polled me. What person in their right mind would oppose Health Care Reform???? Seriously?

    September 14, 2009 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  20. Michael-SC

    am not divided and nobody asked me.
    President Obama, I am all for it.
    I have an education, a job, been with the same company for almost 20yrs. am a middle-class legal citizen and all for it.

    Please take health-care away from Congress first and put an age-limit for congress and Senate into law.

    September 14, 2009 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  21. jfs Memhis, Tn

    As soon as all of the negative smoke clears ...the President's polls will go up much, much, more. Hopefully you all can report the progress on this VERY important legislation....and less on the the Tea Baggers and militant right wingers. This goes to show folks that we Americans CAN think intelligently ...we can read ...and...we can reason beyond a bunch of bullies forcing their beliefs on the rest of us.What a distraction that got NOWHERE !!!!!

    September 14, 2009 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  22. a health economist

    Overall I'm not very pleased with Obama's handling of the health care issue. Allowing the Democrats in Congress to shape things completely was a bad idea.

    That being said, I fully believe that if the Republicans had their way matters would become significantly worse. While some of their ideas have merrits, their overall "plan" (which essentially is to let the free-market do its thing) won't work. The health care industry just happens to have more market failures than any other industry. What this means is that in order for things to work how they should in the text books for the free-market you actually need government intervention on some level to get to the "free-market solution".

    September 14, 2009 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  23. Steve in Kentucky

    After all the lies and hate that has been spread regarding the health care reform, it's a miracle he has even 51 percent approval. To me that's a green light for the Dems. Move it ahead and let it pass.

    September 14, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  24. Wake Up

    Of course, because everyone who disagrees with Obama is racist. How can anyone else explain how anyone disagree with King Obama!?

    Oh my, big government by both parties is BAD

    September 14, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  25. Face Facts

    Obama is more devisive than Bush and more incompetent than Carter.

    September 14, 2009 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
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