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

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

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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. teri

    Ask yourself why OBAMA wanted DASCHLE in the first place!!!!! The NATION wants PUBLIC OPTION – otherwise there is NO REFORM of the present dastardly system.

    September 14, 2009 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  2. Stu - Las Vegas

    Who cares, your polls are bogus. And your stories are made up. Get back to real journalism, and stop "making stuff up".

    September 14, 2009 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  3. m hamil

    Of course large corporations do not want single payer. Then people who hate working at a specific job would be free to move on without fear of losing insurance benefits from large employers. It is absurd that small business people are not adamently b acking single payer. It would make doing business actually possible for them. This form of slavery works well for Wall don't expect even the right wing Dems to get moving on it.

    By the way, why wasn't Wilson ejected from the cham ber like the Republicans are so quick to do when there is a rude fool in the chamber ....or protestors or even just observing newspaper people who were arrested outside the Repulican convention in Minneapolis????

    September 14, 2009 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  4. socalgal

    I am not divided over this issue – I've never been for it. Only a politician would take an issue that affects 20% of the people (not counting those pesky illegals) and force the other 80% to kowtow to them. Since the Prez espouses 'personal responsibility', let this be the first thing individuals take personal responsibility for.

    September 14, 2009 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  5. ICARE

    Look folks!! We need to demand change!! We need to demand perfection, otherwise, we're stuck with this mediocre system. LET SENATORS GO HOME WITHOUT HAVING HEALTH INSURANCE, AND I'M SURE, THEY'LL DRAFT ONE REAL SOON!!


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

    That should have said that I am NOT sold on the public option

    September 14, 2009 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  7. Mike in MN

    The final test will be on what the ultimate bill actually says and does.
    The devil will be in the details.
    Will there be a public option or not? This is still up in the air.
    Will it add to the deficit or not? CBO says the HR3200 bill in the House adds 240 billion to the deficit. The CBO says a bill in the Senate that does not have a public option is deficit netural.
    We still have no idea what the details will be until a final bill is actually presented to congress and the Senate for a vote.
    Polls mean nothing until we have an actual bill that is fully understood by voters and Obama weighs in on it.

    September 14, 2009 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  8. Pee Wee

    64% of the 32% of 1,000 Americans polled during the hours that only 12% of them are awake, agreed that 58% of the questions being asked only made sense 49% of the time if a sliding scale between 1 and 5 was used. 33% of respondents thought that putting the sliding scale on a 1-5 basis instead of a base 10 normal distribution would confuse 74% of the public with more than a 50% interest in the subject being polled. In lieu of a Guassian distribution of the results, 12% of pollsters felt that 34% of statisticians are in err if applying any type of Geiger's method toward normalization of the results. Indeed, simply reporting eigen values for the 27% of question that a weighted average is calcuable would result i the most accurate of all representations.

    Bottom line, we have no clue what his plan is, but there is a distinct possibility that the the majority of Americans either approve or disapprove of it.

    September 14, 2009 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  9. VernisRobertson

    The American people not divided over health care. I am an American and I am not diveded over health care. This just a Republican issue , if he can pass health care , he would be the first President ever to tackle health care and ge it passed. This just a Repulican tricks keeping the american people diveded and angry at one anothe , enough is enough . So we give rich people money and won't give middle classs and poor people in american free health care . Somethng is really wrong with the people in this country . Greed will take this country down quick .

    September 14, 2009 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  10. Independent_me

    The Republicans were against Social Security – a program that we borrowed from Germany. They called it "Socialism" and "Government intervention".

    They were against Medicare and Medicaid. The called it "Government takeover of health care". They also called it "Socialism".

    They now call Obama's vision to provide healthcare for all guessed it: "Socialism" and "Government takeover of health care"!!

    It is AMAZING to me that their supporters are STILL being hood-winked by those ridiculous, fear-mongering tactics!

    Republican supporters must really be uneducated and easily fooled!

    September 14, 2009 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  11. Percy Anson

    The senator from SC was right, he's a liar. You people better wake up.

    September 14, 2009 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  12. Mark H,

    Thanks for dividing this country even further, Obama.


    September 14, 2009 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  13. RNC = DNC = politics as usual

    Wow big surprise. Changing his position, betraying his DNC handlers, breaking promises.

    Probably most of those who disaprove are not clear on where he is going with this.

    Thanks Obama for dropping the ball on a unique opportunity.

    September 14, 2009 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  14. Christian Values

    51 percent favoring Obama's proposals

    Just goes to show, thankfully that this country still has people in it that hold true to their christian values. Those opposed to Obama's Health Care reform go to sunday professing how they want to help their fellow man, but on monday they do an about face and start spewing their pathetic reasons, usually greed, as to why they can not perform their christian duties or live by the standards they have been taught. They quickly cave and start condoning a system that is nothing short of Legalized Genocide with Insurance Execs slaughtering our less fortunate citizens.

    September 14, 2009 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  15. yuri

    We are brutally frank in sayin' that some form of healthcare reform ought to take place, no matter what the hell-raisin' maniacs of the mainstream conservatives think, say, and display in a disgustin' way. Those right-wing rattle raisin' riotously rancorous demagogues need their brains washed w/ turpentine.

    September 14, 2009 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  16. Mark

    Bankruptcy we can believe in!

    September 14, 2009 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  17. ICARE

    In a nutshell, we need to ask and we need to demand for perfection. We need to strive for perfection and then we just may get there.

    It's like an athlete. You want to go to the 2010 Winter Olympic. You're an ice skater. To get there, you have to demand the best coach, the best training, the best food and focus, and then, just maybe, you may get the GOLD.

    If you dont even plan at all, you will never go to the 2010 Winter Olyjpic and perform as an athlete.

    September 14, 2009 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  18. vic nashville , Tn

    We don’t scream in town hall or at Capital Hill our voice will be heard on election day

    We support Obama

    Note :- Obama is not liar if that so we lost nearly 4000 Americans In Iraq by misleading us so can we Bush is liar ?

    September 14, 2009 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  19. Tiredofmediabias

    I'm all for any american getting health care. That being said, my problem is ANY government run program is laughable at best. They are all going broke. What makes all of you name-callers is why on earth would anyone with a shred of intelligence think that a government run healthcare wouldn't end up in the same bankrupt barrel as medicare, medicaid, social security, yada yada yada.....the lists go on and on.

    September 14, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  20. shucks

    Those with a brain approve and support it, and those without well they really aren't sure what they think. That's why they have to be told what to think by either their loudmouth representatives like Limbaugh and Colter, or even worse their preacher in their house of horrors.

    September 14, 2009 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  21. J in NJ

    Instead of calling him a liar, Wilson should have had a copy of HR 3400 with him and thrown it at Obama when he said the republicans have not offered any options!

    September 14, 2009 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  22. Dar

    How could anyone be impressed with the way he is handling this. He needs to be the boss and tell the Congress what he wants to see in a bill, one that he has acually worked on, one that he knows will be right for America's. One that we all can live with. He has this country so divided right now I dont know if it can be fixed by the politicans in DC.
    It is a sad time in our country right now and the only way I see that will pull this great country back together again are the AMERICAN PEOPLE. All of us not jus t some of us. God Bless us all.

    September 14, 2009 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  23. Saul Virginia

    I work in the health industry and have never and will never deny anyone healthcare in the emergency room, whether illegal or not. I am responsible for delivering care to everyone and i refuse to be policing citizenship status before delivering care as the republicans want us to do. We Have a department of homeland security whose job is exactly that... Read More.
    Let me put this in perspective; if a patient comes to the emrgency department with a head injury or broken leg or ruptured appendix that happens all the time, should i look for insurance first and check their immigration status before treating them? NO! This will further cause delay in treating patients citizen or not and put healthcare provider in a very difficult position.
    This was the exact reason why reagan enacted a law that protects patients and help providers do their jobs.
    So Wilson may look brave to Republican, but to me he sounds ignorant and way out of touch with what healthcare is all about.

    September 14, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  24. T22

    Why is it so easy to call those who oppose the specifics of health care legislation being proposed in various forms in Congress "loony" or "crazy" or "militant"? The fact is that there are a very large number of Americans who are quite "smart" and see that the continued expansion of government services comes with a price tag and we are all going to have to pay it. We also see that some of the best in America comes from the private sector, not from the public sector and we'd like to see reform there. Giving an effective monopoly to any organization, public or private, never seems to work that great. Think Defense Department and Haliburton.

    Also, think long and hard if you want healthcare decisions made by Congress – like stem cell treatments, do you want a future conservative congress effectively outlawing them? There are many good reasons why nationalized health care is a bad idea.

    September 14, 2009 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  25. Tom C in NY

    Republicans will hate any non right wing Republican presidents no matter what, but because so many of them are also ignorant racists, they especially hate the first black president. We (and Obama) would be best to just ignore them.

    September 14, 2009 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
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