PRINCETON, NJ -- By 45% to 32%, more Americans want their member of Congress to vote for rather than against a jobs bill similar to the one President Obama proposed last week, with the rest having no opinion.
Obama proposed the "American Jobs Act of 2011" in his speech to Congress on Sept. 8, and sent the bill to Congress on Sept. 12, saying the purpose of the bill is to "put more people back to work and put more money in the pockets of working Americans."
Sen. Harry Reid has introduced the bill in the Senate, but so far it has not been introduced in the House. There is no indication yet as to when either body will take up the bill, or what the chances are that Congress will pass some or all of it. A number of Republican leaders have already gone on record as opposing the bill.
Attentive Americans Solidly Back Jobs Bill
While fewer than half of all Americans favor passage of a jobs bill similar to Obama's, a solid majority of Americans who are following news of the bill very closely, 57%, want to see it passed.
Those who are not following it too closely also tend to favor the bill's passage, 43% vs. 26%, with a fairly large percentage having no opinion. The majority of those who say they are not following news about the Obama jobs bill at all have no opinion on the issue, with the rest closely divided but tilting against the bill.
Fifty-six percent of Americans are following news about Obama's jobs bill either very or somewhat closely, while 22% are not following it closely and another 21% say they are not following it at all. There is little difference in the percentages of Democrats, independents, and Republicans who are following news of the bill closely.
Independents Tilt in Favor of Bill
The Gallup survey describes the bill as "similar to the one President Obama has proposed," making it not surprising that Democrats strongly support it, while Republicans oppose it. Still, Democrats' support is more widespread than Republicans' opposition. This -- combined with independents' greater likelihood to favor than to oppose the bill -- results in the overall 45% to 32% tilt in support among all Americans.
The jobs bill President Obama proposed has many parts to it, and most Americans at this point no doubt do not understand fully what would be involved if it were to be passed either in part or as a whole. Still, over half say they are paying very or somewhat close attention to news about the bill, and the initial reaction from this group is much more positive than negative, suggesting that the president has public opinion on his side on this issue at this initial juncture.
Republican leaders have already objected to many parts of the bill, and 6 in 10 rank-and-file Republicans across the country say they would want their member of Congress to vote against the bill. But 4 in 10 Republicans either don't have an opinion on the bill or say they favor it, and this, combined with the plurality support from independents and the strong support among Democrats, gives the bill its overall positive footing.
Discussion and debate of Obama's proposals will likely expand in the weeks to come and, as is usual with these types of policy issues, this discussion and spin will change the public's views. At this point, however, while the president cannot count on majority support for his bill, he can note that more Americans support his ideas than oppose them.
Results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of Gallup Daily tracking survey Sept. 12-13, 2011, with a random sample of 1,010 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
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 landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each sample includes a minimum quota of 400 cell phone respondents and 600 landline respondents per 1,000 national adults, with additional minimum quotas among landline respondents by region. Landline telephone numbers are chosen at random among listed telephone numbers. Cell phone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.
Samples are weighted by gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, adults in the household, and phone status (cell phone only/landline only/both, cell phone mostly, and having an unlisted landline number). Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2010 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older non-institutionalized population living in U.S. telephone households. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting and sample design.
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.
For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit www.gallup.com.