Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

The Most Important Number in Politics Today


That's the percentage of independent voters who approve of the way President Barack Obama is handling health care reform as compared to 49 percent who disapprove of his performance, according to the latest Washington Post-ABC News survey.

That number is a significant dip from Obama's health care showing among independents in the April Post/ABC survey where 53 approved of the way he was handling health care while just 40 percent disapproved.

Obama's performance among independents -- particularly on the issue of health care -- is significant for two reasons.

First, self-identified independents make up the largest voting bloc in the Post data; 41 percent of people called themselves independents (up four points from the June Post poll) while 33 percent said they were Democrats (35 percent in June) and 22 percent described themselves as Republicans (unchanged since June).

Second, one of the critical piece of President Obama's electoral success was his appeal to independents who went heavily for him in 2008 -- due, at least in part, to a distaste with President George W. Bush and a desire for something new.

Before anyone begins writing Obama's political obituary among independents, however, it's important to remember that nearly six in ten (58 percent) of independents still approve of the job Obama is doing -- a number that tracks almost directly with his overall job approval (59 percent) in the Post survey.

Keep a close eye on future poll data to see how health care fares among independents. You can bet the White House is watching.

By Chris Cillizza  |  July 20, 2009; 11:13 AM ET
Categories:  Most Important Number  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Morning Fix: Jindal Rises Again
Next: Michael Steele, the Health Care "Experiment" and Anxiety Politics


And stop calling me Shirley!


Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | July 21, 2009 10:01 PM | Report abuse

Oh come on Jake you aren't fooling anyone, we can all see that "Lisa421" has the same writing habits you do. Now you're "conversing" with yourself. It won't work.

You're way too inept to dusguise your writing.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | July 21, 2009 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Good one, Lisa421, calling "chrisfox8" Martha. "Shirley" would have been better (from the Airplane movie ; )

Posted by: JakeD | July 21, 2009 9:14 AM | Report abuse

Obama is now finished. Its time to impeach him and install a Republican as president of the U.S. for 100 years. Throw out the Constitution and make everything biblical. Women should be made to submit to all men, and men can have as many sins as they want, as long as they ask forgiveness from God, after which they can sin some more, as long as no one is watching. HEalth care is against God's wishes, because if God wanted us to be healthy he would not let us die, so who needs Obama's socialized communist health care. Let the sick find God. And everyone should carry a gun and blow away anyone they want... It's in the Constitution...Oh wait..I said no Consitution..Ooops! I meant....its in some religious text somewhere. Anyway..we should have guns and blast people anywhere we want blahbutti-blah blah blah blah blah

Posted by: hayden1 | July 20, 2009 7:39 PM | Report abuse

And only Jake announces his departures, believing anyone cares

Posted by: chrisfox8 | July 20, 2009 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Gotta go now, Martha. I will be back.

Posted by: Lisa421 | July 20, 2009 4:40 PM | Report abuse

To chrisfox8, whom among us really belong?

Posted by: Lisa421 | July 20, 2009 4:26 PM | Report abuse

You don't. Go away.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | July 20, 2009 4:19 PM | Report abuse

To chrisfox8, at least it belongs here.

Posted by: Lisa421 | July 20, 2009 4:15 PM | Report abuse

You already posted it in another thread where it doesn't belong, Jake.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | July 20, 2009 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Lisa421 | July 20, 2009 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Wow 41% "Independents", what a great time to start a run as one. I wish I had a ton of someone else's money. I'd do it.


You could join the American Independent Party and run as their candidate. You might be required to grow a tail and walk on all fours, though.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | July 20, 2009 2:58 PM | Report abuse

thanx, mikeinmidland.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | July 20, 2009 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Wow 41% "Independents", what a great time to start a run as one. I wish I had a ton of someone else's money. I'd do it.

Posted by: shrink2 | July 20, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

mikeinmidland is correct to point out that the numbers that The Fix discusses aren't in the published poll data. It is quite likely that he has access to the crosstabs that are not available to the rest of us.

Posted by: bsimon1 | July 20, 2009 2:14 PM | Report abuse

CILLIZA -- Could you correct your error/misleading headline? It's insulting to your readers.

Posted by: drindl | July 20, 2009 2:07 PM | Report abuse

No one continues to have approval ratings of nearly 60 percent among indies. Obama is doing just fine.

All of this is simply anti-Obama hatred cooked up by the Republicans and a salacious media.

Posted by: parkerfl1 | July 20, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse

WaPost pollster Jon Cohen just finished a chat in which this response to a question about Obama perhaps over-promising was given:

"On the overreach question: there's little evident pushback against Obama's early action on the economy, health care and the deficit. Majorities in the new poll say he's putting the right emphasis or should do more still in each of these key areas.

In terms of expectations, most, 62 percent, say he's delivered on a central pledge ... that "he has brought needed change to Washington." "

Posted by: bsimon1 | July 20, 2009 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Chris refers to "independent" voters polling at 44 to 49 on this issue. I don't see a break-out of independents in the linked poll data.

Perhaps there is more detail than is in the link, somewhere else. The same numbers, reversed, would be quite a coincidence, though.

Posted by: mikeinmidland | July 20, 2009 1:59 PM | Report abuse

CC - As others have pointed out, the WaPo poll online reflects approval of the Prez's handling of health care, not disapproval. Either the WaPo poll is incorrectly posted or you should change [or kill] this thread.

Bsimon! and others correctly point to the failure to provide depth in the polling, whatever the numbers.

The nation may have the impression that the Prez has been a straighter-talker than the Congress on health care; I certainly do. I join "sverigegrabb" in looking for the Prez to apply more pressure - but especially on aggregate health care cost containment, where Congress has abdicated its responsibilities.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | July 20, 2009 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Wait, am I reading this wrong? I thought the poll said there was a 49% net approval rating on health care, and a 44% net disapproval rating.


It's called "lying" and all Republicans do it

Posted by: chrisfox8 | July 20, 2009 1:51 PM | Report abuse

FIX IT, Mr. Fix! 49% approve, 44% disapprove.

Posted by: mikeinmidland | July 20, 2009 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Wait, am I reading this wrong? I thought the poll said there was a 49% net approval rating on health care, and a 44% net disapproval rating.

Posted by: miadctransplant | July 20, 2009 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Fairlington -- I'm speaking of a DC media-cultural thing, not death rays.

This is an example of what I mean, from someone who does a better job explaining:

"Two different articles came out today on healthcare reform. One is in Politico and the other is in the Washington Post. They both do two things that are inexplicable and inexcusable.

First, the president's healthcare reform package is thrown into doubt in both articles. Will he be able to pass it? Is he floundering? Is this reform effort in trouble?

When you read the articles, however, you don't get any reason why these assumptions are made or these questions asked. There are no poll numbers to indicate that the American people want healthcare reform any less - or that they are more skeptical about Obama's version. In fact, we know the opposite is true. There have been many different polls that show the public is overwhelmingly in favor of Obama's version of reform, which includes a public option (for example, a CBS News/New York Times poll had 72% in favor and even a poll done by healthcare reform opponents showed 83% in favor of the public option).

Those are unreal numbers and indicate that Obama has the public clearly behind him on this issue. So, what does the media do? They write an article about how Obama is in trouble on this issue. Their evidence? He called a "hastily scheduled" press conference on Friday that Republican Senator Chuck Grassley was not in favor of. Are you kidding me?

But mainly they almost seem to rejoice in pointing out that he is having trouble getting some of his fellow Democrats on board. That is true. And that gets us to point number two. Throughout both articles, they credulously point to conservative Democrats concerns about how quickly this is all proceeding or how much the plan will cost.

Did it not occur to these reporters that some of these so-called conservative or centrist Democrats might be against this reform effort because their primary financial benefactors are the same healthcare companies that are desperate to kill this bill? Would it not have given the reader a better and more informed perspective to at least mention this possibility? Or do you want to just take these politicians at their word?

Look, we all knew the healthcare industry was going to try to kill this reform effort, especially the public option provision. How did you think they were going to do it? Did you think they would just walk up to the media and announce, "We have bought these six to eight senators and they will vote our way because we paid them."?

Posted by: drindl | July 20, 2009 1:20 PM | Report abuse

"8, laid on it's side, as in infinity. That is todays magic number. Hillary Clinton, representing the out of touch liars in this White House, signed a new "trade agreement" in India today removing all limits from H1-B visas and allows for millions of additional Indian "guest workers" in nursing, medicine, government work, etc"


This never happened. You've been scrivenering H1B Visas on this site for almost a year now, when called out on it you are never able to produce supporting evidence.

I will admit to beign wrong if you can produce a link about this new agreement or whatever that you just mentioned.

Posted by: VTDuffman | July 20, 2009 1:13 PM | Report abuse

I would stand with a sign in front of the White House if the H1-B cap was raised. I'd like to see some evidence of this. Pile all those lousy programmers and testers on a barge back to India and this area would *explode* with jobs, there are thousands and thousands of H1-Bs at Microsoft and there are thousands of people looking for work.

Completely f*cking disgusting to be bringing in foreign workers when we have high unemployment.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | July 20, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse

mibrooks, I can't find any articles describing that new trade agreement. Google News doesn't have anything related to H1Bs or guest workers, and every article about Hillary's India visit focuses on nuclear and climate change issues. Can you point me to your source?

Posted by: Blarg | July 20, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

8, laid on it's side, as in infinity. That is todays magic number. Hillary Clinton, representing the out of touch liars in this White House, signed a new "trade agreement" in India today removing all limits from H1-B visas and allows for millions of additional Indian "guest workers" in nursing, medicine, government work, etc. So, instead of just the 4.5 million American's that have lost their jobs due to free trade, public employees doing clerical work, database work, work in the health care sector, stand to loose their jobs. Instead of curbing job outsourcing and ending guest worker visas, the treasonous swine in our White House has just undermined the very ability to survive for millions of additional American's. I wonder how many liberals will be so stupid as to support ANY Democrat at this sellout. The slogan for 2010 - "Obama, - Worse than Bush".

Posted by: mibrooks27 | July 20, 2009 12:35 PM | Report abuse


Although the polling shows a slightly disturbing trend in terms of a 2012 reelection bid, I agree with you that it's very, VERY early days to write either the President or any of his initiatives off.

On health care, I should personally prefer to see him with a bit more of his shoulder to the wheel (rather than 'gallavantin' around the world at the moment), but who (even WH Correspondents) really knows what phone calls emanate from the Oval Office, or through WH surrogates? We'll see where this goes.

The Matt Bai piece was very interesting, as was the (slightly over-the-top?) piece on the 'Fork in the Road'.

I read the Ensign link yesterday. DEEP Sununu--and deservedly so!

Posted by: sverigegrabb | July 20, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

What Good is Health Care Reform When a Fed-Enabled "Program" Violates the Civil and Human Rights of the Unjustly "Targeted"?


FEMA, Secret Service, FBI, the U.S. military and intel agencies are among the federal enablers of volunteer community policing, anti-terrorism and town watch organizations transmogrified by Bush-Cheney into fronts for a nationwide, civilian Gestapo-like army.

This grassroots-based extrajudicial targeting and punishment "torture matrix" uses covertly implanted GPS tracking devices to stalk, harass, vandalize and terrorize unjustly "targeted" Americans and their families.

When "targets" travel, the GPS system alerts local units of this American Gestapo, and the harassment follows. Local police cooperation denies these targeted Americans their Constitutional right of equal protection under the law.

Silent, injury- and illness-inducing microwave and laser radiation "directed energy weapons" are being used to torture, and to degrade the lives of targeted citizens -- what could be described as a quiet, ideologically-motivated genocide.

Victims charge that members of this civilian Gestapo have infiltrated the health care system, calling into question the quality of the services they receive when they need hospital or emergency care.

And companion array of “programs of personal financial destruction — using the IRS as a political weapon — decimates the finances of “target” families. Their telecommunications and U.S. mail appear to be subject to warrantless surveillance, interception and tampering — including the alteration of financial accounts and credit card and utility billing statements.

This cruel bypass of the American judicial system makes a mockery of the rule of law -- and political "dissidents," "whistle-blowers" and those considered to be social "deviates" are among its prime targets.

Civil rights advocates: Wake up and smell the police state that has co-opted POTUS and a deluded Congress into becoming enablers of vigilante injustice and domestic torture.

OR (if link is corrupted / disabled):

See "GESTAPO USA" at ("stream" or "stories" list).

Posted by: scrivener50 | July 20, 2009 12:13 PM | Report abuse

This poll like this other ones are about general satisfaction with how the economy is doing. Since it's still in the tank, the numbers are drooping.


@drindl - It's a publicly traded company. Go check the filings yourself. seriously think shareholders are going to give Cillizza his marching orders? You're headed into Scrivener territory here.

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | July 20, 2009 12:11 PM | Report abuse

No, the number is 49. You have the approval/disapproval transposed (unless the poll write-up has a typo). Get some coffee.

Posted by: member5 | July 20, 2009 12:08 PM | Report abuse

This is one of those polls that catch people's top-of-mind views based on sound bites. I bet most people don't understand the nature of the health care bill from either side of the aisle....

Posted by: RickJ | July 20, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse

The poll numbers might not be all that helpful because they don't show why people are unhappy. How many object to a public plan, and how many are unhappy because the public plan isn't single-payer, and how many are unhappy because he's left it to Congress to sort out instead of proposing his own plan?

The way the results are presented seems to assume that everyone in opposition are unhappy with Obama's health care reform for the same reasons, which is unlikely.

Maybe next time ABC-WaPo conducts a poll they can be just a bit more discriminating?

Posted by: Gallenod | July 20, 2009 11:52 AM | Report abuse

What we don't know is what about how the president is handling healthcare independents don't approve. Do they not like the actual plan? Or do they not like that the WH has ceded the plan to Congress? Or do they not like healthcare reform at all? Or something completely different?

Some will likely jump to the conclusion that the poll indicates the Obama admin's - or Dems generally - plans are the problem. As an independent who's frustrated with the healthcare reform efforts, my beef isn't with the admin specifically so much as with the sausage-making process. I am skeptical that they will pass a bill this year that will not require repair in subsequent years.

Posted by: bsimon1 | July 20, 2009 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Wasn't the big story a while back the significant drop in people who self-identified as "Republicans?"

If you have a bunch of people who stop calling themselves "Republicans" and instead call themselves "Independents," not because of any real shift in political philosophy, but because they are basically just embarassed to be associated with Republicans, it's not entirely suprising to see those kinds of numbers from "Independents."

Just my $0.02

Posted by: VTDuffman | July 20, 2009 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Gee -- I guess the MSM's push to kill healthcare reform is working.


How many insurance companies/for-profit healthcare agencies are in the corporate bloc that owns the Washington Post?

Posted by: drindl | July 20, 2009 11:44 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company