According to a poll conducted for The Hill, a Washington DC-based publication, two-thirds of likely voters say President Barack Obama has indeed kept his 2008 campaign promise to change the country. However, according to a sizable majority, Obama has changed it for the worse. The poll found 56 percent of likely voters believe Obama has transformed the nation negatively, as compared to 35 percent who believe the United States has changed for the better under his leadership. The results of the poll may show that there is unease in the electorate over Obama’s leadership just six months before the election. The poll was conducted among 1,000 likely voters on July 5 and has a margin of error of 3 percentage points.
Conducted for The Hill by Pulse Opinion Research, the poll found 68 percent of likely voters — whether they approve or disapprove of Obama — believe the president has substantially transformed the country since his 2009 inauguration. Unsurprisingly, it is Republicans who feel strongest that the country has slipped: at 91 percent, as compared to 71 percent of Democrats who support Obama’s change. In other words, 1-in-5 Democrats say they feel Obama has changed the United States for the worse.
Debate about Obama’s first term has intensified since the Supreme Court ruled the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate is constitutional. The ACA, once implemented, would usher in the most sweeping changes to the nation’s social safety net of the last 50 years. Obama’s supporters see the ruling as a validation of his “change we can believe in.” During his campaign, Obama hinted at his ambitions to mold himself along the lines of Ronald Reagan. “I think Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not. He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it,” he told the Reno Gazette-Journal in January 2008.
Independent of voter opinions about how the United States has changed, the poll found that 89 percent of likely voters see the Obama-Romney contest as crucial to the nation’s future. 47 percent say they are paying more attention to the current contest than the 2008 vote. Republicans are generally paying more attention than Democrats — 56 percent to 44 percent — to the 2012 campaign compared to 2008.
There is a difference of opinion along the black/white fault line, with just 29 percent of whites saying Obama has changed the country for the better compared to 92 percent of blacks.