August 19th, 2009
12:59 PM ET
13 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. Marie MD

    I feel that the President has out best interest in mind as he went through health/insurance problems with both his Mother and Grandmother. Most of the loud mouths at these meetings are not there because they know anything about the healthcare bill or what socialism is, but they have been told to go there by the Insurance companies just to shout and make fools of themselves.
    The fact that some people "want their country back" and are carrying loaded weapons make me sick!

    August 19, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  2. Dave

    No – town hall meetings have not and will not change anyones opinion on Heath Care reform. What has changed millions of Americans minds is getting to know the facts of the current legislation which will bankrupt our great country and force upon us a government run health care system.

    Thank You to all the proud Americans who are sick of politicans not listening to our concerns and rising up in outrage at this terrible piece of legislation that WILL NOT improve our Health Care.

    America has the greatest health care system in the world, let's keep it that way and ONLY focus on improving the insurance coverage problems of pre-existing conditions and making insurance more portable. Then once those issues are resolved move on to providing coverage to the 20 or so million uninsured Americans (liberals read "Americans" not illegal immigrants who are not in our country legally)

    August 19, 2009 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  3. Predicta

    Absolutely changing minds of moderate democrats in Congress. That's why we now see a division in the democratic party. The Liberals couldn't care less, as anyone who disagrees with their agenda is an unpatriotic, fascist, angry mob.

    August 19, 2009 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  4. Buck12

    Why is it that when people drew a Hitler mustache on photos of Bush and waved them around it was called free speech, but when it's done now of Obama it's referred to as "comtemptible"?

    August 19, 2009 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  5. Tex

    Pshh, the whole crazy right-wing protestors interrupting town halls with indiscernible shouting is so passe, so... 2 weeks ago. Don't they know they're a mockery for the entire western world at this point?

    August 19, 2009 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  6. tate

    57% are against it this is hardly equal. 85% of people are happy with there health care, people are sick of bailing out dead beats and hippy democrates. Go get a job losers.

    August 19, 2009 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  7. tiff of Lithia Springs

    I'm actually a healthcare provider and a little skeptical about the changes myself. However, the way people have conducted themselves in these townhall meetings has been embarrassing and in some cases down right disgusting.

    It reminds me of professional school the way people just let the rumor mill churn without getting the facts.

    I will say that I went to George Washington Carver Middle School, Booker T. Washing High School and Dillard University and it wasn't until I got to Life University that I saw people react baseless fictional rumors at least twice a week.

    We can not function as a country and expect to compete with the rest of the world with behavior like this. Upgrade your mentality folks.

    August 19, 2009 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  8. Jon Krieger

    Obama and the rest of the "Demoncrats" had better not ram this through as the other article stated or we will vote them out next year!Get it through your thick skull obama WE DON'T WANT OBAMACARE!!!

    August 19, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  9. Sam Sixpack

    What's not to like? The two major changes will be:

    1) Americans will be required by law to give all they can "afford" to the healthcare industry.

    2) it will be easier than ever to deny coverage. As Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, Obama's Special Advisor for Health Policy, puts it, "services provided to individuals who are irreversibly prevented from being or becoming participating citizens are not basic and should not be guaranteed. An obvious example is not guaranteeing health services to patients with dementia." This kind of thinking will, indeed, “balance the budget.”

    And best of all, as long as you make all you healthcare payments on time and have a valid passport, you can go to Mexico for actual medical treatment.

    August 19, 2009 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  10. Gerald

    Its not about health care, its about goverment control. One need not look futher than all the goverment programs bleeding red ink to know this will be no better. Two very wise men said the following.
    "If you are young and not a liberal, you have no heart. If you are old and not a conservative, you have no brain."
    –Winston Churchill

    "The difference between a liberal and a conservative is 20 years."
    –Mark Twain

    August 19, 2009 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  11. Raulin Angulo

    If The Republicans are against it. And The Big pharmasutical Companies are against it.
    A Public Health Option is a good thing for America

    August 19, 2009 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  12. Richie

    Yeah, they're changing my mind. I used to think there were rational Republicans somewhere. Now I know there are not.

    August 19, 2009 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  13. JS007

    This is thanks to yeoman's reporting of people like Rachel Maddow, and to CNN's credit, some of their own. Once people realized that the town hall screamers were organized by the insurance industry and GOP operatives they largely discounted them. Dare we hope that the American people are getting better at figuring out the truth beyond the talking points?

    August 19, 2009 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  14. kapinatlanta

    When has yelling and shouting while someone is trying to speak, bringing guns with bullets, and automatic rifles, comparing the President to the Adolph Hitler and his Nazi regime, and behaving like school yard bullies been productive at a town hall meeting or any other venue. Obviously there is much to say to the concept; "no home training" for many of these idiots. It only exposes the "true conservative republican party, and those psuedo republican blue dog democratics for who they really are.

    August 19, 2009 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  15. kk

    Not at all the repubs have made a spectical of themselves and I don't mean in a positive way. They are what I call so-called christians.

    August 19, 2009 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  16. Gofigure

    Don't need a town hall meeting to know that this proposed plan is a disaster waiting to happen. When has the government ever been efficient with anything?"

    August 19, 2009 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  17. ConcernedCitizen

    Honestly...I have NO IDEA where CNN gets their poll numbers. Apparently, they just make them up. Gallup, rasmussen, all the major polls have the American people OPPOSING the healthcare plan at no less than 53 percent. 59% say the DNC going it alone to force the bill through is wrong. I guess the liberal media thinks if they just lie over and over people will be stupid enough to believe what they say. Kinda like the politicians themselves.

    If this socialist program is put into law the Democrats will not see power for decades. The American people reject socialism and that is EXACTLY what this white house is doing. Rahm Emanuel needs to go.

    August 19, 2009 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  18. ThinkAgain

    Civil public discourse = good
    Unthinking hysterics, verging on violent riots = bad

    We're a representative democracy, with freedoms guaranteed by a Constitution envied around the world.

    Let's live up to that promise and act like adults, shall we?

    August 19, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  19. Andy

    What this interpretation of the poll fails to mention is large numbers of people oppose this reform because we believe it doesn't go nearly far enough. We want real reform and the removal of private bureaucracy from the system. We're fed up of private insurers telling us what treatment we can get and where we can get it. People talk about death panels, well that's what we have right now, with private insurers denying treatment they consider too expensive for the benefit of saving a life. So yes, we oppose this legislation because it isn't close to the single payer or national healthcare service systems we deserve in this country.

    August 19, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  20. Linda

    Not changing my mind on anything except I am appalled that people are so disrepectful of our President . If you don't agree fine, that doesn't mean we have to look like idiots on TV. What has become of our country when we stoop so low as to treat our President like he is nothing. I don't see how any of you can expect him to solve everything is just a few months. Have you sovled your own problems? The President has all of the country's problems and he is more than capable ot solving them, but not all at once and NOT in such a short time.

    August 19, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  21. Right Leaning Independent

    It is sad if people take the word of fellow citizens or politicians at the town hall meetings. Go read the bill and see for yourselves that this is not in the best interest of those with current health insurance. This bill is designed to eventually get all Americans on the Government plan! Not to mention that we can not afford it since Obama has bankrupted our country and folks do not even know it yet. Go read the article by Warren(I Love Obama) Buffet in yesterday's NY Times. We are in for a world of hurt in the future due to all the debt we have incurred....

    August 19, 2009 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  22. Bev - NYC

    Most of those protestors look like crazy people out on a day pass. They don't realize that they are fighting for the rights of the insurance companies to charge what they want and drop you without an alternative . These folks would be the first ones crying that the gov't let them down. The Town Halls haven't changed my mind on health care reform. Reform is needed ASAP.

    August 19, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  23. Prosecute the Bush 6

    Seriously, that Wall Street Journal/NBC poll is flawed or biased. CNN just did a poll earlier today and 84% favored the Democrats pushing health care reform through without the Repubs. Your host looked dismayed by the results he read. Cracks in the lies...

    August 19, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  24. nea

    This President have a strong mind unlike G.W.Bush which would have been cram this bill through at least tried to and nobody wouldnt even knew it until it got passed. The Republicans are just playing games with this so the Democrats may as well go on with it, just be truthful to the american people and let the Republicans continue to buck and offer scare tastics in the end the truth will prevail. They say its a government takeover well explain why its not ,they lie and say that illegals will be cover explain why they will not and so on.

    August 19, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  25. New Age Democrat

    I think the sentiment of the protests are that of most people that I know. We flat out don't want the government running health care. This doesn't mean that we don't want health care reform. We just that we don't trust the government to run it.

    Obama hasn't done a good job of explaining the details, especially regarding the costs and how it will be paid for. I'm tired of the "we'll just tax the rich more" because that's just not a viable answer for everything and it's not being responsible. I feel like he is in campaign mode again, and all I remember are his broken promises to eliminate pork projects etc. The stimulus package was a joke and an insult to every voter. I don't have a reason to trust him anymore.

    August 19, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
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