A Gallup Poll finds that President Barack Obama’s use of the “bully pulpit” of the Presidency in the 21st century — speeches carried on news shows, photo ops and a major prime time press conference — notably increased support for his economic stimulus plan.
Most interestingly, his efforts shored up Democratic party support, had little impact on divided independents — but helped him regain some lost Republican support (further proof that not all Republicans follow the lead of Rush Limbaugh):
Public support for an $800 billion economic stimulus package has increased to 59% in a USA Today/Gallup poll conducted Tuesday night, up from 52% in Gallup polling a week ago, as well as in late January.
You can rest assured that Team Obama — in particular, Obama himself — will draw lessons from this polling:
Most of the newfound support comes from rank-and-file Democrats, suggesting President Barack Obama’s efforts to sell the plan over the past week — including in his first televised news conference on Monday — have shored up support within his own party. Last week, Gallup found 70% of Democrats in favor of Congress passing the economic stimulus package, but today that figure is 82%.
Over the same period, support for the stimulus package held steady among independents, with a slight majority in favor of it. The percentage of Republicans favoring the package rose slightly from 24% to 28%, but remains below the 34% support received in early January, before Congress began its formal consideration of the package.
Here’s a graphic on the support for the stimulus according to party ID:
What does this mean?
1. Obama was able to get cohesive support from Democrats.
2. Independents remained split but is still a group that he can appeal to and have a good prospect of convincing.
3. He can peel away a certain number of Republicans.
4. If there is a major issue he needs to get out on the hustings and use all communications skills he can because he can make a difference.
5. Criticism of his press conference — calling him windy, too pessimistic, etc. — is apparently not how it played in terms of political support. If not used excessively, formal press conferences can increase his clout with voters and Congress.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.