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On Healthcare, Americans Trust Obama More Than Congress

On Healthcare, Americans Trust Obama More Than Congress

PRINCETON, NJ -- As Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid tries to advance a healthcare reform bill onto the Senate floor, just under half of Americans, 48%, say they trust the Democrats in Congress to change the nation's healthcare system; 52% express little or no trust in them. Trust in President Obama on healthcare is a bit higher, at 55%, while trust in the Republicans in Congress -- 37% -- is significantly lower.

Trust in Washington Leaders (President Obama, Congressional Democrats and Republicans) on Healthcare Reform

"Fewer than 4 in 10 political independents have much faith in either political party in Congress on healthcare reform; however, the majority of independents do trust Obama."

Notably, feelings of high trust toward Washington's leadership on healthcare are fairly scarce: 23% of Americans -- predominantly Democrats -- say they have a great deal of trust in Obama on the issue. However, the figure drops by more than half to 10% for the Democrats in Congress and halves again, falling to 4%, for the Republicans.

Trust in Washington Leaders on Healthcare Reform -- Detailed Ratings

Republicans' Confidence in Own Party's Leadership Lags Democrats'

These views are predictably partisan in their general direction. Most Democrats express a great deal or fair amount of trust in Obama, as well as in congressional Democrats; they have little to no trust in the Republicans. The reverse is true for Republicans. However, there is a notable difference in degree: a significantly higher proportion of Democrats than Republicans generally trust their own party's leaders on the issue. Eighty-six percent of Democrats trust Obama and 81% trust the Democrats in Congress; by contrast, 61% of Republicans trust the Republicans in Congress.

Fewer than 4 in 10 political independents have much faith in either political party in Congress on healthcare reform; however, the majority of independents do trust Obama.

Trust in Washington Leaders on Healthcare Reform -- by Party ID

Bottom Line

Americans' reactions to the Republicans and Democrats in Congress for handling healthcare reform are sharply partisan, and independents show little faith in either side. As a result, neither party's congressional leadership can boast that a majority of Americans are behind them on this issue.

While Republicans do not trust the president much more than they trust congressional Democrats on healthcare, political independents do see him in a more positive light. This helps lift Obama above the fray, earning him the trust of the slight majority of Americans.

Gallup's most recent reading on public support for healthcare reform finds 44% of Americans saying either that they will support the final healthcare reform bill that comes to a vote in Congress, or that they are likely to support it. Slightly more, 49%, expect to oppose the bill. With such anemic public support for reform, Sen. Reid could benefit from Obama's playing a more visible role in trying to rally public support around whatever plan the Democrats in Congress finally agree on.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,521 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Oct. 16-19, 2009, including an oversample of 408 blacks, consisting of 102 interviews done as part of the random national sample and 306 interviews with blacks who had previously participated in national Gallup Polls and agreed to be re-interviewed at a later date. The data from the national sample and re-interviews are combined and weighted to be demographically representative of the national adult population in the United States and to reflect the proper proportion of blacks in the overall population. For results based on this sample of national adults, the maximum margin of 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.

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