February 6th, 2009
12:53 PM ET
12 years ago

Polls show support for stimulus has slipped

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/02/06/art.obama2.gi.jpg caption="Support for Obama's stimulus bill has dropped. "]WASHINGTON (CNN) - Two new national polls suggest that support for an $800 billion stimulus plan to pump up the economy has slipped since mid-January, but may have stabilized in the past week.

Fifty-one percent of those questioned in a CBS News poll released Thursday evening approved of the stimulus package. That's down 12 points from a poll taken January 11-15, the last time CBS asked the question. Thirty-nine percent opposed the plan, up 15 points from the previous poll, taken before President Barack Obama was inaugurated and before the House of Representatives passed an $819 billion stimulus package, with no Republican support, on January 28.

A new USA Today/Gallup poll, also released on Thursday, shows virtually identical numbers to the CBS News poll - 52 percent favoring an economic stimulus plan and 38 percent in opposition. Fifty-two percent also favored an economic stimulus plan in a Gallup poll conducted on January 27, a week after the inauguration and the day before the House passed the bill that the Senate is currently considering.

"These two polls, taken together, indicate that support for a hypothetical stimulus package dropped once an actual piece of legislation was introduced and debated in the House," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Opinion about the specific bill that is now before the Senate has remained consistent since the details of the House bill were made public. A slight majority favor the current package, with just under four in 10 opposing the bill."

The public often changes its mind about proposals made by a president or by Congress once the details are known, Holland added. "It's easy to express support for a bill when the goal is clearly stated but the details are not well known. Traditionally, the bigger the bill, the more there is in it that will eventually turn some voters off."

And the USA Today/Gallup poll seems to indicate a desire for a smaller bill. Forty-eight percent favored Congress cutting the size of the bill by up to $200 billion, with 41 percent opposing such a move.

Nearly half of those questioned in the CBS News poll, 45 percent, said the stimulus plan would shorten the recession, with 21 percent suggesting that the bill would significantly shorten the tough economic times. Eighteen percent indicated that the plan would do a little to bring an earlier end to the recession.

In the CBS News poll, eight out of 10 felt the economic recovery bill should be a bipartisan effort, with only 13 percent saying it would be all right for the legislation to pass with support only from the Democrats who control Congress. Eighty-one percent told CBS interviewers that they think
Obama is generally reaching out to congressional Republicans in an attempt at bipartisanship. But only four in 10 felt that congressional Republicans are returning the favor, compared with 49 percent who believe that congressional Democrats are attempting to be bipartisan.

The CBS News poll suggests that Americans may be agreeing with Republican arguments on the stimulus when it comes to a choice between tax cuts or increased government spending. Fifty-nine percent questioned say that tax cuts for business are the best way to end the recession, with 22 percent feeling that more government spending is the way to go.

Sixty-two percent of those polled by CBS News approve of the way Obama is handling his duties. Obama's approval rating is 65 percent in the latest Gallup poll, and has been in the mid- to high 60s in the Gallup tracking poll for every day of his presidency.

"In the weeks leading up to the inauguration, Obama's approval was roughly 80 percent in virtually every poll," Holland said. "But the job of a president-elect is different than the job of president. It's not surprisingly that Obama's ratings were higher during the transition than they are now, and the real test of his presidency is how the public feels about him since January

Obama's approval rating is more than twice the 26 percent who approve of the way Congress is handling its job in the CBS News poll. But when broken down by party, congressional Democrats have an edge over their Republican counterparts. Forty-eight percent of those polled expressed a favorable view of Democrats in Congress, 16 points higher those who had a positive opinion of congressional Republicans.

The CBS News poll was conducted Monday through Wednesday, with 864 adults questioned by telephone. The USA Today/Gallup poll was conducted Wednesday, with 1,012 adults questioned by telephone. Sampling error for both surveys is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (259 Responses)
  1. Jackie in Dallas

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    Ah, I wondered when the polls would start being publized again.

    Good point that support is always higher when things are hypothetical, and drop when reality sets in. That's a psychological truth.

    You know, CNN, there's another truth you should report. How can 864 adults questioned by phone be truly representative? How about using your website to poll more than 1000 people? You have the tools here to get real numbers, not just a blip. Your sampling error would drop, too. Do you really think that 864 people questioned by phone (and does that include cell phones?) really represent a cross-section of this country?

    February 6, 2009 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  2. margie w.

    It appears that Repub's are already trying to regain the power they had for the last 8 years that literally screwed this Country. They are all so self-centered that they will do anything to regain power even when it means knocking down every last idea the Democrats have. I hope the American people are taking a good look at their (repubs!) actions and start holding them accountable!!

    February 6, 2009 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  3. Bob

    What is going on is the Republicans and Democrates are at odds and the media is the instigator of it all. I really wish everyone would act like adults including the media because the adults are ruining the future of our children. Everybody is talking and no one know what they are talking about. Get over your power struggle and work together everyone is saying what the American people are saying and none of the polls are right. In my opinion the media and govenment both have a low rating your job will be effected soon if you don't get it together. The American people know it is nothing but a big game. I expect this to moderator for a long time because you guys can't handle true statements. Stop with the games, our children are depending on adults this include the media.

    February 6, 2009 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  4. gabe

    Well is it any wonder that the man who is pushing a nearly trillion dollar spending bill on the tax payers' tab is unpopular right now? Is it any wonder that the president who consistently nominates tax frauds as cabinet members is slipping in the polls?

    Socialism is a jagged pill for us all to swallow. He'd (Obama) better break it up smaller and put it in our food so we don't notice.

    February 6, 2009 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  5. Sniffit

    Pass the bill GOP. Obama gave you all the rope you need...you can either hang yourselves with it or use it as a lifeline to save your party.

    February 6, 2009 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  6. way to go american

    Not my President

    February 6, 2009 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  7. a true american

    polls are political in favor of the republicans. the republicans are trying to stop obama from doing something the country. they know that the stimilus package will work. if that packege works, those repulblican party will be extinct

    February 6, 2009 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  8. Ben (Eugene, OR)


    It's time to reconstruct our infrastructure, not pass out cartons of condoms.


    February 6, 2009 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  9. bill

    with twenty four news cycle.i will take 52 percent approval on obamas stimulis.rember when W.left it was 28 percent.it may not be perfect but its daaar better than anything.bushes allies came up with.GIVEM HELL OBAMA WE VOTED FOR CHANGE .

    February 6, 2009 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
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