Fifty-Three Percent of Americans Now Disapprove of Obama's Handling of Health-Care Issue, Says Gallup Poll

By Matt Cover | November 30, 2009 | 12:13 PM EST

President Barack Obama waves as he exits Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, Thursday, Nov. 19, 2009. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

( – A majority of Americans--53 percent--now disapprove of the way President Obama is handling the health care issue, and 49 percent want their members of Congress to vote ‘no’ on Obama’s government-led restructuring of the health-care system, according to a Gallup poll.

The report, released Monday, shows that only self-identified Democrats support the plan, with strong majorities of both Republicans and Independents opposing the president.

Gallup initially asked respondents which way they wanted their representatives to vote on health care reform. Forty-two percent said their congressman should vote "no" while only 35 percent said their congressman should vote in favor of the bill. Another 22 percent were undecided.

When those undecided respondents were pressed to say whether they "leaned" towards either a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ vote, the gap between support and opposition tightened--with 49 percent saying they either leaned toward or desired a ‘no’ vote from Congress, while 44 percent said they either leaned toward or wanted a ‘yes’ vote on health reform. 

The poll comes on the heels of a narrow Obama victory in the House, where Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) barely pushed through her version of the reform with only two votes to spare 220-215--218 votes were needed for passage. That victory did not move public opinion toward favoring the bill, Gallup found, as public support for the measure continued to decline.

The results were based on a Nov. 20-22 USA Today/Gallup poll, and are essentially unchanged from a poll conducted earlier this month, Gallup reported.

Those declining fortunes are bipartisan, as support for Obama’s health reform has declined steadily since early October, the last time Gallup found that a majority of Americans – 51 percent – supported it.

Support among all three party groups has declined since the early October high -- falling by 6 points among Democrats, 8 among independents, and 12 among Republicans.

More than three-quarters (76 percent) of Democrats – the only group that still supports health reform – want Congress to pass a bill. Independents and Republicans both oppose the plan by strong margins. Among Republicans, 86 percent said they would advise their representatives to vote against the bill, along with 53 percent of Independents. Only 37 percent of Independents want their members of Congress to support a reform bill, with 16 percent undecided.

Obama Losing Support on Health Care

A majority of Americans also disapprove of the way President Obama is handling the health care issue, providing further evidence of eroding support for the president and his primary policy goal and suggesting that his vaunted charisma may not be enough to sell the public on the lynchpin of his domestic agenda.

Fifty-three (53) percent of the public disapproves of Obama’s handling of the health-care issue, while only 40 percent approve – down from a mid-summer high of 44 percent approval. Opposition has grown over that time, climbing four percent between mid-August and late-November.

“This is slightly more negative than what Gallup found from July through September, and represents his worst review to date on this issue,” the poll concluded.

Though Democrats are the only group still supporting Obama on the health-care issue, even their support has fallen and fewer Democrats support Obama on health care than support him on other policy issues.

Seventy-four (74) percent of Democrats approve of Obama's handling of the issue, but this is below the better-than 80 percent of Democrats who approve of the job Obama is doing as president overall.

Republicans and independents, meanwhile, both overwhelmingly oppose the president, with independents opposing Obama by nearly 2 to 1.

GOP members are nearly unanimous in their views of Obama's work on health care, with 89 percent disapproving and 6 percent approving. Independents are nearly twice as likely to disapprove (58 percent) as to approve (33 percent.)”

According to Gallup, the poll has never found a “strong public mandate” in favor of health reform since it began polling on the issue. The highest support it has ever found was 51 percent in October, a number which has fallen steadily.