The issue is a bigger negative motivator for Republicans than a positive one for Democrats: Four in 10 Democrats say they'd be more likely to support a candidate who favors reform, but 65 percent of Republicans say they'd be more likely to oppose such a candidate. Most crucial in election equations are independents, and by 2-1 they say they'd be more likely to oppose than to support such a candidate, 31 percent to 16 percent. Narrowing to independents who'd be "much" more likely to support or oppose a candidate on these grounds, supporting reform is a negative for 25 percent, vs. a positive factor for 10 percent.
OBAMA OVERALL – Obama's overall approval rating remains better than his approval specifically for handling the top issues of the day, the economy and health care. But its course tells a similar story: down 11 points from his initial mark of 68 percent in February, which exceeds the average seven-month decline, 5 points, for first term-presidents since 1945.
Obama remains far more popular among young adults than old – 71 percent approval among 18- to 29-year-olds vs. 47 percent among seniors, albeit down about equally in both groups since February. But the biggest gap is partisan: He's moved not at all among Democrats – 90 percent approval in February, 90 percent now. But he's gone from 37 percent approval among Republicans to 19 percent now; and, among independents, from 67 percent approval in February to 50 percent now.
That's a difficult trend for Obama, more so given his 36 percent approval among independents specifically on health care. In Congress he can make do with Democrats, who control both houses. But in public opinion, on health care and much else – and letting go of the chimera of post-partisanship – he needs independents as well.
METHODOLOGY – This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by telephone Aug. 13-17, 2009, among a random national sample of 1,001 adults, including landline and cell-phone-only respondents. Results for the full sample have a 3.5-point error margin. Click here for a detailed description of sampling error. Sampling, data collection and tabulation by TNS of Horsham, Pa.