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)

    It's very simple!!!

    If you have healthcare now and you want to keep, you will keep it.

    If you do not have health care and you want and need it, you get health care.

    The Veterans will keep their health care and, in fact, get better health care for themselves and their family.

    The republicans are morons. NOTE – they have health care.

    August 19, 2009 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  2. vic nashville , Tn

    Tea party failed

    Health care protest failed

    I don’t know what is next from fox?

    August 19, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  3. Four and The Door

    The town hall meetings were very useful communicating forums. Now let's see who in Washington cares to listen. It was not difficult to hear what was being said. No Single Payer, No Public Option. No huge expensive government health care program. No thanks!

    August 19, 2009 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  4. D.Tin

    My only comment is.... why are most of the protestors with their concerns
    old and probably on socialized healthcare already through the government. They are hypocrites organized to go against anything President Obama proposes, even to their own detriment. The healthcare reform will pass, and we do need a public option. Private insurance companies already have "death panels", and if these people were smart, they would know this and shut up.

    August 19, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  5. Chipster

    Bad behavior at these meetings sets a very bad example for our children. If your children behaved like these people, I'll bet they'd be grounded.

    The disruption achieves nothing and answers no serious concerns. When someone wants to know if Gramma will be put to sleep, that person needs to have the text about allowing people to get assistance with living wills, end of life decisions in the event they're unconscious, and other serious decisions that require a person's wishes to be known.

    Democrats never attempted to interfere in end of life decisions. It was the Republicans who shoved the government into the middle of a personal family crisis and take away the husband's right to make his wife's decision. Whether the decision was right or not, it was not the government's place to interfere. But that was the GOP, not Democrats.

    August 19, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  6. Political Science Major

    Too funny CNN, quoting a NBC (Nothing But Obama Channel) survey. With Maddows, Olbermann, and Matthews headlining so called "news" NBC aren't professional pollsters, who did they poll? Olbermann viewers? I guess CNN wants to be just like MSNBC, drooling over Obama and reporting good fantasy stories about the President everyday? Oh Wait! CNN is already doing that, Susan Roesgen anyone?

    August 19, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  7. J.C. - Independent & Insured

    Shouting doesn't carry any ideas except for noise. I hope we can resume civilized discussions around the country.

    August 19, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  8. ras

    I say let all the dim wits saying the reform is no good stay with their current private insurance or whoever insures them...and let the rest of us choose who and what we want be it public option or co-op...i bet most of these idiots disrupt the meetings and yes i call them idiots because they come and shout and offer no solutions nor do they allow for dialogue....that tells you they no the plans is good they just hate the fact that it took a black man to get it right....the RNC were in power for 8 years and what did they do? nothing that Obama is shaking things up ..the dimwit racist come out of the wood works,,.. i bet most of the protest are on medicard and welfare anyways..

    August 19, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  9. When push comes to shove.....Dems will vote for Dem bills before a Refiblican one...........

    The bottom line is; 100% of Dems (50% of the country) support Obama health care reform despite Republican drama. 50% of Independents (25% of the country)...and 15% of Republicans support the Obama plan (25% of the country). The majority of the country wants the Obama plan with a public option !!!!!!!!!

    August 19, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  10. REG in AZ

    Hopefully the people recognize much of the opposition as being orchestrated and not sincerely interested in what is best., only in forcing the will of a few. That is obvious from the consistency, the lack of concern for the answers, the repetition even after getting the answers and the aggressive and disrespectful behavior. So much of what is going on is obviously obnoxiously aimed at manipulating public opinion and blocking progress

    August 19, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  11. Voted4HealthCare

    The unruly outbursts, hanging effigies, birthers, deathers, teabagger nonsense make me want to have nothing to do with my former GOP again. There is nothing wrong with healthy debate, but the actions from the right are beyond the pale.

    August 19, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  12. Allen from Texas

    Rarely are people swayed by persistent ignorance and one-sided dialogue.

    August 19, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  13. Pepou

    Watching these hoodlums with their Nazi signs and their assault weapons make me sick. So much for their show!

    August 19, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  14. Lu

    The offensive behavior by the hecklers has only made me more eager to support health care reform. I disagreed with almost all of President Bush's plans, but I always treated representatives at meetings respectfully, whether I agreed with them or not.

    And the shear amount of lies, exaggeration, and fear-mongering about health care the Republicans have put forward has made me so angry that I will work heart and soul to fight their negativity.

    Health care reform is not an issue that should be dealt with by knee-jerks reactions along party lines. It is an issue that should be given serious consideration and discussion. Disagreements should be heard and understood, and compromise achieved. Preferably with dignity and honesty.

    August 19, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  15. Diane

    My mind wasn't changed but my eyes were opened to the insidiousness of the corporate lobby. I never realized how manipulative they are, before. I never had an opinion about them but now I think they are bad news! Bad for America. Really devious and motivated by money alone, which is destructive and wrong.

    August 19, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  16. John, Brooklyn, New York

    Personally, the protests have only served to harden my support of the Democrats' efforts to pass health care reform.

    In my experience, when people resort to verbal bullying, they hardly ever have a reasonable thoughtful motive for their behavior. Otherwise, they'd express their ideas, not use bullying to shut down others' ideas. Additionally, when people use the threat of force (e.g. bringing guns to town hall meetings) its usually a sign of feeling afraid and threatened – not an expression of disagreement.

    So...I'm more inclined to trust the judgement of the people who are presenting the reform ideas than I am to trust the judgement of people who 1) seem not to have a reasoned rationale for their opposition or 2) seem to be acting irrationally.

    August 19, 2009 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  17. Cindy

    The protests show me that Americans still have a long way to go. Propaganda and fear mongering run thick in this country. I would have thought that in this day and age, we'd be smarter than that.

    It's a sad commentary on our ability to filter spam, junk mail, and talk radio entertainment.

    August 19, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  18. NadineCA

    The town halls are making me feel the need to March on Washington to give President Obama the support he deserves. Watching these people show up with guns and degrating images only makes me want to pass this Health Care Reform even more. These people are showing us their true racist nature. They even admit it's not about healthcare so they are just trying to promote hate of a Black President while cause unnecessary deaths of uninsured sick people by stahling this vote. Shame on them.

    August 19, 2009 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  19. Bxgrrl

    These aren't town halls. They're staged forums for GOP and insurance industry goons.

    August 19, 2009 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  20. alvino

    At a Bush event a few years ago, a couple was arrested for wearing t-shirts that had Bush with a line through his name. They were asked to remove the t-shirts, they refused, and were arrested.
    That was then. Now we have people showing up with guns at the president's town hall meeting, and these morons say now we are losing our constitutional rights? The right wing nuts have to be the most gullible people in history to be swayed so easily by Fox entertainment.

    August 19, 2009 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  21. chris

    Townhalls are causing alarm over nonsense – end of life discussions are already in medicare and many insurance policies.

    Death Panels, Nazi, Socialism, Communism, right to "Bear Arms" via an assault rifle at townhalls? COME ON! This is a public OPTION... do people not understand what "Option" means?

    August 19, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  22. LacrosseMom

    The sad thing is that many Americans have not done their homework. We are "FED" information rather than THINKING on our OWN!

    IF people would actually DO research, TALK to people without healthcare, or people who have been DENIED healthcare because of a pre-existing condition, they would learn the TRUTH: that the Healthcare Corporations are not acting in the patients best interest BUT in their own BOTTOM LINE.

    When 99% of Americans(source the CDC) are ONE ILLNESS AWAY from medical bankruptcy ......... we have a SERIOUS problem.


    August 19, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  23. David

    There is no change in views because they have given assurances that are not to be believed. People are reading the bill for themselves for once and see that what they are saying does not match.

    August 19, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  24. history repeats

    of course they arent. we all know who the town hall protesters are! they the people that voted for mccain, that dont believe obama is a us citizen, that think palin would make a good president. these people think what they are doing is actually comparable to the protests of bush and the war!! they will hate obama no matter what. it just looks like they are a majority because those of us that voted for obama and understand drastic reform is needed are not in town hall meetings!!! so these people organize and fill town halls and bring cameras to post on youtube to create the illusion of mass.

    August 19, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  25. ~~ July ~~ ( Working HARD to make TX Blue )

    IF this town hall protest are changing minds .............. for the worst then those people deserve everything bad that goes their way. THERE IS NO WAY this town halls are working!!!! STUPIDS

    August 19, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
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