Obama vs. America

President Barack Obama appears to be personally popular, but the American people, according to a variety of reputable polls (Gallup, Rasmussen and Pew, for instance), disagree with him on his major policies, ranging from spending, to terrorism to health care.


The single most important issue is the economy, with 81% of voters rating it very important, compared to 49% for health care (Rasmussen, June 2.) Most Americans (54%) view the job Obama is doing on the economy in a negative manner, while 46% view it positively (Harris, May 28.) Voters now trust Republicans more than Democrats, 45% to 39%, on the economy (Rasmussen, June 8).


A majority of Americans (51%) disapprove of Obama’s handling of federal spending (USA Today/Gallup, June 8). Most voters (58%) believe Obama’s economic stimulus package either had no impact or actually hurt the economy; fewer than a third (31%) think it helped (Rasmussen, June 1). A plurality of Americans believe, by 44% to 39%, that Obama’s new plan to speed up stimulus spending will be bad for the economy. Just 39% say the remaining stimulus should be spent; 45% say it should be scrapped altogether (Rasmussen, June 10).

More than three-quarters of voters (76%) are concerned that Obama’s budget "will increase spending too much," with 49% "very concerned" (Rasmussen, March 18, 2009). This is supported by an Opinion Dynamics poll finding that a majority (54%) think Obama is proposing too much of an increase in government spending; only 6% say he is not proposing enough (Fox News, May 15). Most likely voters (52%) worry that the government will do too much in response to the nation’s recent economic challenges (Rasmussen, April 20).


In February, most voters (62%) wanted Obama’s stimulus plan to include more tax cuts and less government spending; just 14% disagreed (Rasmussen, February 9). A substantial majority (63%) think tax cuts would help the economy; just 13% say they would hurt (Rasmussen, March 26). Most Americans (51%) now favor an across-the-board tax cut for all Americans to stimulate the U.S. economy versus just over a third (34%) opposed. 59% of those not affiliated with either major political party think such a tax cut is a good idea; even among Democrats, half (50%) are in favor (Rasmussen, June 11).

More than three out of four (77%) believe the unwillingness of politicians to control government spending is a bigger problem in the U.S. than the unwillingness of taxpayers to pay enough taxes; just 14% say the problem is that taxpayers are unwilling to pay enough (Rasmussen, May 22). Most (52%) believe they pay more than their fair share of taxes (Rasmussen, April 22).

Bailouts, Nationalization

Most Americans (59%) think the federal bailouts for banks and other financial institutions are a bad idea, while barely a quarter (26%) are in favor (Rasmussen, April 21). Back in February, more than seven in ten Americans (72%) opposed the emergency loans given General Motors and Chrysler; just a quarter (25%) approved (Gallup, February 26).

Most Americans (54%) believe government regulation of business usually does more harm than good (Pew, May 21). Seven in ten voters believe that big business and big government generally work together against the interests of investors and consumers; just 14% disagree (Rasmussen, April 23). Most Americans (55%) believe big government is a greater threat than big business (Gallup, April 20).

Health Care

Nearly half of Americans (49%) believe private insurance companies will provide better service and more choice than the government-run proposal designed to compete with them and favored by Obama. Just over a third (34%) disagree (Rasmussen, June 15).

Moreover, 45% believe health care reform will actually increase the cost of coverage, while just 19% say otherwise (Rasmussen, May 15). Most (63%) say it’s likely that a government insurance company would lose money and require taxpayer subsidies; only 20% say that’s unlikely (Rasmussen, June 15). Most (54%) are not willing to pay higher taxes for universal health coverage; fewer than a third (32%) say they are. Among those not affiliated with either major party, 60% are opposed, while just 29% approve (Rasmussen, May 15).

National Security

More than three out of four voters (76%) consider "Defending U.S. against terrorism" to be a "top priority" (Pew, January 22). Most voters (51%) trust the GOP more than the Democrats (36%) on this issue (Rasmussen, June 8).

By a better than 2-to-1 margin (65% to 32%), most Americans oppose Obama’s announced policy of closing the Guantanamo Bay detention center in Cuba (Gallup, June 3). By more than two to one (49% to 22%), they believe that enhanced interrogation techniques such as waterboarding were effective in getting important information that saved American lives; 47% believe such techniques were justified, while only 30% do not (Harris, June 2). Most (52%) say "torture" of suspected terrorists to thwart terrorist attacks is sometimes justified (Associated Press/GfK Roper, June 1).


In the Senate, Obama voted against an amendment to the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007 to "require the enforcement of existing border security and immigration laws and Congressional approval before amnesty can be granted" (U.S. Senate, June 7, 2007). More than two out of three Americans (67%) favor an "enforcement first" policy; just 18% are opposed (Rasmussen, May 7, 2006).

Same Sex Marriage

Obama opposed Proposition 8, which amended California’s constitution to define marriage in the state as between a man and a woman. In a June 29, 2008 letter to the Alice B. Toklas Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Democratic Club, read at the group’s annual Pride Breakfast in San Francisco, then-candidate Obama wrote, "I oppose the divisive and discriminatory efforts to amend the California Constitution, and similar efforts to amend the U.S. Constitution or those of other states" (San Francisco Chronicle, July 2, 2008).

Proposition 8 passed with majority support, including "seven in 10 black voters and more than half of Latino voters" (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, November 5, 2008). Nationwide, most Americans (57%) are opposed to granting same-sex marriage legal status (Gallup, May 27, 2009).

Affirmative Action

Obama supports affirmative action in college admissions and government employment. (On the Issues: Barack Obama) Most voters (55%) think affirmative action should be abolished; an overwhelming 70% oppose giving some racial groups preference for government jobs. More than seven in ten (71%) disagree with Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor’s decision rejecting a claim of reverse discrimination by mostly white firefighters. (Quinnipiac, June 3).


In the Senate, Obama was rated 100% by NARAL on pro-choice votes in 2005, 2006 and 2007; he was rated 0% by the National Right to Life Committee. (On The Issues: Barack Obama) For the first time since Gallup has been tracking the issue, most Americans (51%) now call themselves "pro-life" on the issue of abortion; just 42% call themselves "pro-choice" (Gallup, May 15). As President, Obama reversed the prohibition on U.S. taxpayer funding of overseas abortions (Memorandum for the Secretary of State, January 23, 2009). Most Americans (58%) disapprove of this decision; only 35% approve (Gallup, February 2).

Obama opposed the ban on partial-birth abortion and strongly criticized the Supreme Court decision upholding it. In the Illinois state Senate, he opposed a bill similar to the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, which prevents the killing of infants mistakenly left alive by abortion (Washington Post, April 2). More than seven in ten Americans (72%) believe partial birth abortion should be illegal; just 22% say it should be legal. (Gallup, September 3, 2008)

School Prayer

Obama opposes teacher-led prayer in public schools; he was rated 100% by Americans United for Separation of Church and State (On the Issues: Barack Obama), which states "Public schools should not sponsor prayer" (Americans United for Separation of Church and State). In contrast, nearly two-thirds of the public (65%) believe that teachers or other public school officials should be allowed to lead prayers in school, according to a 2001 survey by the Center for Survey Research and Analysis at the University of Connecticut. (Freedom Forum/First Amendment Center, March 1, 2001). The following year, Gallup reported that support for allowing voluntary prayer in public schools and at graduation ceremonies remained around 75% (Gallup, December 10, 2002).