CBS poll shows post-speech bump

CBS POLL SHOWS POST-SPEECH BUMP…. President Obama hoped to persuade some lawmakers on health care reform this week, but just as important, if not more so, was changing public attitudes about the initiative. A CNN poll taken Saturday night offered some encouraging numbers, but there were legitimate concerns about the sample. A Democracy Corps focus group also showed positive results, but it’s often tricky to extrapolate too much from one group’s reaction.

A new CBS News poll, however, offers some numbers that will be welcome at the White House.

Last week, just 40 percent of these adults approved of how the president was handling health care. More, 47 percent, disapproved. After the speech, 52 percent said they approved and only 38 percent said they disapproved. Those are the best assessments for Mr. Obama’s handling of health care shown all year by CBS News Polls.

Before the speech, 61% of respondents said Obama had not clearly explained his plans for reform, while 33% said he had. Now, those numbers have reached near-parity (42% yes, 43% no). Obviously, the White House would no doubt prefer even better numbers, but it does point to a major shift.

What’s more, for those who actually saw the president’s address, the number were far better still — 58% said he has clearly explained his plans for reform, 39% said he hasn’t.

Keep in mind, CBS’s report on this explains that the pollster “re-interviewed” respondents from a “poll conducted August 27-31.” In other words, we’re seeing a shift, not just in the public in general, but among some of the very same individuals.

The news was not all good. Last week, 19% said health care reform would help them personally, 30% said it would hurt them, and 45% said it would “have no effect.” Those numbers have improved, but not considerably — 22% now say reform would help them, 27% say it would hurt, and 42% believe it wouldn’t affect them personally.

That said, overall, the landscape looks more favorable than it did before the president’s remarks. At a minimum, these are results reformers can build on.