WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Americans give the Obama administration high marks for its handling so far of the continuing spread of swine flu, or H1N1 virus, in the United States. In a Gallup Poll conducted Tuesday night, 66% of Americans say they approve of how the administration is handling the situation, while 16% disapprove and 17% have no opinion.
This 66% approval rating for the administration's handling of the swine flu outbreak is on par with President Barack Obama's 63% overall job approval rating in Gallup Poll Daily tracking conducted April 26-28, 2009, though the 16% disapproval is much lower than the president's 31% disapproval overall.
The April 28 poll regarding swine flu was conducted the same evening Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius was sworn in as the new Health and Human Services secretary following reports, and some criticism, regarding several high-level vacancies within the department.
For the most part, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Dr. Richard Besser, acting Director for the Centers for Disease Control, have been the administration's public face on the outbreak, in addition to White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. Today, President Obama, who is marking his 100th day in office, made more extensive public comments about the situation, stating he is being briefed constantly and will offer regular updates to the American people. On Tuesday, the president sent a letter to congressional leaders requesting $1.5 billion in funding to help the U.S. respond to the outbreak.
Wednesday morning the CDC confirmed 91 cases of swine flu in the United States, spanning 10 states, including a 23-month-old Mexican child who died in Houston, Texas. As of Tuesday night, Gallup found 22% of Americans reporting they personally worried about getting swine flu yesterday. Americans in this group are as likely to approve of the administration's handling of the issue as those who are not worried -- 64% to 67%.
Not surprisingly, approval does vary by political orientation -- 47% of Republicans approve of the administration's handling of swine flu, compared to 83% of Democrats and 66% of independents. However, Republicans' approval of the Obama administration on this issue is far higher than the 28% who approve of the president more generally.
While swine flu to date has affected residents of New York, California, and Texas the most, there are few regional differences in approval of the administration on the outbreak. Americans in the East (69%), West (68%), and South (67%) are equally as likely to approve of the administration's handling of the situation, while those in the Midwest, the region least affected at this point, express slightly lower approval (61%).
Gallup will continue to monitor Americans' responses to the swine flu situation over the coming days and will update approval of the Obama administration on the issue as events warrant. Visit Gallup.com for updates.
Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,021 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted April 28, 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 ±3 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.
Polls conducted entirely in one day, such as this one, are subject to additional error or bias not found in polls conducted over several days.