September 14th, 2009
03:23 PM ET
9 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.

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. Steve, NY

    We wouldn't have all these opinions and arguments with this proposed plan, if we the citizens can join the same plan that Obama and Congress has for themselves and their families. Why is Congress writing a plan for us. We can join their plan and it will be called a universal health plan. Obviously if they are happy with their plan we will be also. Problem solved.

    September 14, 2009 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  2. Doraine Gordon

    The man is doing the very best job he can. We all need to give him a chance to sraighten this mess out. Some people would have already thrown up their hands and headed for the door. I know the Republicans are always against all programs that help the people. It takes the Democrats to pass bills that help the people. It was the Demcrats who got Social Security and Medicare passed into law. They did it with the republicans fighting them every step of the way. It will be the same with Health Care Reform. The only ones who will change it are the Democrats because the Republicans simply don't care about the people. They have no plan and don't know how to run anything except their mouths. They all need to go home!!

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

    America was also sharply divided about going to war. But the Republicans stormed ahead with complete disregard to any and all protests that were staged around the country.

    And what have we gotten out of it? Our dead brothers, fathers and friends shipped back in body bags.

    What will we get out of health care reform? Affordable health insurance for ALL? Imagine that!

    September 14, 2009 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  4. tjaman

    See, how are we supposed to believe anything you report when just four days ago you posted this huge double-digit post-speech jump for Obama plan, following his address to Congress?

    I submit that your polling is suspect and widely open to interpretation.

    September 14, 2009 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  5. Farmer

    Can anyone but me smell a "full court press" by the special interest $$$$$ groups ???????

    September 14, 2009 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  6. Pepou

    We will have health care reform with a strong public option. In spite of the tea baggers and other clowns out there.

    September 14, 2009 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |

    Americans divided between:

    1) those who understand what is at stake if we do nothing but put bandaids on a broken system, and

    2) those who have been so conditioned by the repetition of baseless lies, who have been so conditioned by the evil haters, who have so thoroughly demonized and dehumanized Barak Obama, that all they can see is the devil, evil.

    The reckless Right – including Pawlenty, DeMint, Price, Armey, Gingrich, Limpbag and Baby Blues – has to be called out on every lie!

    September 14, 2009 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  8. truthsayer

    CNN, a poll everyday is not going to change whats inevitable. The questions in your poll were probably slanted against the President

    September 14, 2009 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  9. Dex Houston TX

    CNN get off the polls...only idiots are influenced by poll numbers. We understand that poll numbers add to the sensationalized reporting you call news, but to thinking Americans polls are as irrelevant as the report of them.


    September 14, 2009 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  10. ab from MN

    Remember in the election how we talked about cell phone users not being part of these polls? That showed up in quite a few states. Same thing here. The 21-35 crowd really isn't taking part in these surveys. His numbers are better then what we're seeing. And guess what GOP? the economy is getting better! We still have 1.5 years left of stimulus spending. And we're spending it on American rather then a lie created on wars. Oops, my bad, a war created on lies 🙂 Soon Obama will let the tax cuts on the rich expire. We're closing the gap and as it closes Obama's numbers will improve. He's ahead of schedule had you asked me. It's still a shame though that his numbers are dropping bcoz in 9 months he hasn't turned around the 2nd worst economical times of our country's history. And the right is pandering to the fringe. I'm glad to sit here today and tell you the right is shrinking!!!!

    September 14, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  11. mike

    obama is doing a great job, just keep on going

    September 14, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  12. fereddie

    I am for health reform, the country needs it, however we do NOT need the public option. I worked for thte government for 35 years. I am confident the government can not run health care. Look what a mess theMedicare program is in. Dorcors are refusing to see Medicare members. Please no public option

    September 14, 2009 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  13. Steve (the real one)

    The looney masses are still asking opposers of a government run health care program to give up social security and medicare when we are eligible to recieve it. Too bad they let facts get in the way of their rants.

    FACT 1: We paid into Social Security all of our working lives! Our employers did the same on OUR behalf! That means it is OUR money! We did not ask the government to tax us! They did, WE paid, OUR money!

    FACT 2: We paid into Medicare all our working lives! Our employers did the same on OUR behalf! That means it is OUR money! We did not ask the government to tax us! They did, WE paid, OUR money!

    Still hard to understand, liberals? Too bad!, but here's how to ease your pain, look for new people to call racist! That may help!

    September 14, 2009 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  14. begalalaland

    That certainly is a different ratio than the "non liar" has been saying isn't it? Not that I am trying to start any disagreements (you know, end up on a list or something else that the administration threatens you with) but it just does not seem that all that many people are crazy about this, especially when you knock out all of the non-workers and non-taxpayers who would naturally be for it and the people who stick their hands down the front of their pants when ever they see Obama's picture (like the state run media).

    September 14, 2009 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  15. ETM

    Yes, America is divided. The intelligent people know the President's plan will go a very long way towards providing more coverage, limiting costs and helping poor and middle class families. These people rely on facts and reason.

    The ignorant among us think the plan will create death panels and bring freedom to an end in the US. These people think Glenn Beck is the messiah and that Sarah Palin is smarter than a grapefruit.

    September 14, 2009 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  16. David from WI

    So according to the Democrats it is between the racist evil "tea bagging" republican racists VS those that want health care reform.

    Ah yes the 'kinder and gentler' party that is the progressive liberal corrupted (ACRON) wing that is the Democrat party of the 21st century.

    And the Dems wonder why Obama is not trusted?
    I am amazed ANYONE believes a thing he or theses progressive race bating Dems have to say on anything.

    Its sad to see the character and reputation of the Dems go off the cliff to join the GOP. 2010 will be an interesting year.

    The more the far left talk the more American listens and wonder 'what happened to the Dems of old'

    September 14, 2009 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  17. Bubba

    When I see that the people who oppose Obama are also the ones who opposed equal rights for minorities, I don't have to wonder long if I'm on the right side.

    September 14, 2009 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  18. AXH

    American does not want this bill; not enough time has been set aside to really look at the current system and try to fix what we've got!

    Stop using your own scare tactics!

    This will COST way too much money; and the benefits will not outweight the costs.

    STOP Health care reform!!

    September 14, 2009 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  19. LacrosseMom

    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.
    58% of people approve of our president! Wow! And that's not counting the millions more who have only a cell phone, and no land line. And the millions of others who, like me, live in a solid red state and will not be polled.


    PS. IF you are happy with your present insurance by all means you can keep it!

    September 14, 2009 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  20. mjm

    The whole point of the speech was to try and gain approval points.

    The speech was the same one we all heard before with the same points all over again.

    Oh, he did change one thing. He now states if you and /or your employer like your insurance, you can keep it.

    He added in the employer part recently because he knows the employer can change employee benefits any time it wants. If your employer wants to dump you to the public option, it can and will. You have no say in it.
    Government fines and “regulations” on insurance companies will cause premiums to sky rocket until the employer dumps employees into the public option.

    Taxes will go through the roof as we try to pay for this.

    Just say “no” people.

    September 14, 2009 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  21. Jim

    Another poll that is a lie

    September 14, 2009 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  22. teri

    Obama should have started off with single-payer, and negotiated down to public option. But he never wanted to do that. Ask yourself why he wanted DASCHLE in the first place!!!!! The NATION wants PUBLIC OPTION – otherwise there is NO REFORM of the present dastardly system.

    September 14, 2009 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  23. Mikey

    We must make changes to reduce our inefficieny health care system. I am not in favor of single payer and am sold on the public option, either. The point is to achieve the goal of reducing our bloated health care costs.

    The additional amount we spend as a nation on health care compared to other first world economies represents about a $900 billion annual drag on our economy. Now we probably do not want to go the whole nine yards to the British system, but we do need to do something and there is no better time than the present.

    One would think that pro-business conservatives would be able to get behind this effort, as these bloated costs harm businesses and have a negative impact on employment. It is like a massive tax.

    September 14, 2009 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  24. Nick

    Hope you whack job right wingers enjoyed your summer. Obama is back!!!

    September 14, 2009 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  25. DonnaLee

    So what's news ? ... We've been divided for nearly a decade now. They don't like us and we don't like them. We want to grow and secure the middle class, and they want to continue fighting the civil war. Barney Franks said it the best when he said, "that talking to them was like talking to a dining room table." Good thing dining tables don't vote ... lol

    September 14, 2009 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
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