Greenberg Quinlan Rosner
National Public Radio


NPR Survey Results March 2009 (PDF - 8 K)

NPR PowerPoint (PDF - 21 K)

Executive Summary


The first bipartisan survey conducted for NPR by Public Opinion Strategies and Greenberg Quinlan Rosner since the 2008 election shows Barack Obama with high overall approval ratings and strong marks on handling the economy, but much more important, Democrats winning the big debates surrounding Obama’s first budget on taxes, energy, health care, and the deficit by significant margins. These results are based on a bipartisan survey conducted together with Public Opinion Strategies for National Public Radio, which are not responsible for these conclusions.

Key Findings

In an exercise unique to the NPR survey, the Democratic and Republican pollsters wrote their strongest messages in each area, with important guidance for the public debate ahead. On both energy and health care the Democratic message wins by 53 to 42 percent, a margin nearly twice the Democrats’ 6-point partisan advantage. A majority of voters also side with the Democratic argument on taxes (52 to 43 percent) and the deficit (51 to 45 percent).

As Democrats hold the advantage on key issues, President Obama’s approval rating remains strong. Nearly six-in-ten voters (59 percent) approve of the job President Obama is doing while just 35 percent disapprove.

This survey shows that voters remain deeply pessimistic about the economy as only 3 percent rate it as “good” while two-thirds give it a poor rating. This deep pessimism keeps the economy at the top of voters list of concerns and nearly three-quarters (72 percent) say “the economy and jobs” is one of the top two issues that the President and Congress should be paying the most attention to.

Despite voters’ gloom about the economy, they remain confident in President Obama and support his economic policies. A solid majority of 56 percent approve of the way President Obama is handling the economy, while just 39 percent disapprove. Indeed, by a near two-to-one margin, voters think that Obama’s economic recovery package will help rather than hurt the economy (40 to 21 percent with 34 percent believing it will have little impact on the economy) and a strong majority favor the recovery package passed by Congress and signed into law by the President (55 percent favor to 42 percent oppose).

Within their pessimism about the economy voters show a great diversity about what they see as the top economic concern. Worries about the declining stock market and investment losses tops the list of economic issues for voters (with 34 percent mentioning it as one of the two most important issues facing them and their family), which is matched by the number who mention loss of work, pay cuts or the inability to get a job.


These results are based on a bipartisan survey conducted by Public Opinion Strategies in conjunction with Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research for National Public Radio. The survey fielded March 10-12 & 14, 2009 and was conducted among 800 likely voters nationwide. It has a margin of error of +/-3.4 percent. The results and broadcast can also be found at