Amid Debate, Obama Approval Rating on Healthcare Steady

by Jeffrey M. Jones

Americans disapprove of his handling of the issue, by 49% to 43%

PRINCETON, NJ -- Americans rate President Barack Obama's handling of healthcare policy essentially the same as they did roughly three weeks ago, remaining slightly more likely to disapprove than approve. The update comes after several weeks of Congress' working to advance legislation through committees and the Obama administration's stepping up efforts to win public support.


Healthcare reform has stirred spirited opposition in a series of town hall meetings between members of Congress and their constituents. Obama is trying to counter some of that opposition with his own healthcare push, as he vows to pass legislation before the end of the year.

Of four issues tested in the Aug. 6-9 Gallup Poll, Obama fares the worst on healthcare. His ratings on the economy are slightly better, with Americans evenly divided in their opinions of how he is handling this issue. The president gets better ratings for his handling of both foreign affairs and education.


All four issue ratings are lower than his overall job approval rating of 54%.

At least three-quarters of Democrats approve of Obama's handling of each of the four issues. Meanwhile, Obama gets no higher than a 24% approval rating from Republicans on any of the issues (education), including a low of 10% on healthcare.

Independents' ratings on each of the issues fall between those of the other two party groups, but closer to Republicans' than to Democrats' ratings, and do not reach the majority level on any issue.


Of the issues, Gallup has most frequently measured public opinions of Obama's handling of the economy and foreign affairs. Each is now tied for the lowest of his presidency to date, and has declined from ratings near 60% earlier in his presidency, similar to the decline in his overall approval rating during this time.

Obama's rating on the economy declined the most between May and July, to the point where slightly more Americans gave him a negative than a positive evaluation. In the latest update, his ratings appear to have stabilized.


Obama's foreign affairs approval rating has declined less than his economy rating, but has dropped four points from the July reading.


The Aug. 6-9 poll marks the first time Gallup has measured Obama's approval rating on education.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,010 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Aug. 6-9, 2009. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on land-line telephones (for respondents with a land-line telephone) and cellular phones (for respondents who are cell-phone only).

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

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