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44% Think Obama Less Faithful to U.S. Constitution Than Most Other Presidents

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Most Democrats – and one-third of all voters – think President Obama should take action alone if Congress won’t agree with what he wants to do. But a plurality already believes the president has been less faithful to the Constitution than most of his predecessors in the White House.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 55% of Likely U.S. Voters believe that when it comes to dealing with issues the president considers important to the nation, the government should only do what the president and Congress agree on. Thirty-five percent (35%), however, think Obama should take action alone if Congress does not approve the initiatives he has proposed. Ten percent (10%) are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Fifty-eight percent (58%) of Democrats think the president should take action alone if Congress does not approve his proposals. Eighty-two percent (82%) of Republicans and 61% of voters not affiliated with either major party believe the government should do only what the president and Congress agree on.

After being told by House Speaker John Boehner that Congress will not pass immigration reform legislation this year, the president announced yesterday that he was beginning "a new effort to fix as much of our immigration system as I can on my own, without Congress." Opponents claim the president has already exceeded legal bounds with some of the executive actions he has taken, and Obama just lost a case taken to the U.S. Supreme Court challenging appointments he made while Congress was in recess.

When it comes to executive actions he has taken in the White House, 44% of all voters think the president has been less faithful to the U.S. Constitution than most other presidents. Twenty-two percent (22%) feel Obama has been more faithful to the Constitution than most of his predecessors, while 30% say he has followed the Constitution about the same as other presidents have.

Fifty-seven percent (57%) think it is more important to preserve our constitutional system of checks and balances than it is for government to operate efficiently, down slightly from 60% a year ago. Thirty-five percent (35%) place more importance on government running efficiently, a seven-point increase from the previous survey.

Fifty-four percent (54%) of Democrats now think it is more important for government to operate efficiently, a 14-point jump from 40% last July. Essentially unchanged from the earlier survey are the 77% of GOP voters and 64% of unaffiliateds who believe it is more important to preserve our constitutional system of checks and balances.

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on June 28-29, 2014 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Forty-nine percent (49%) of voters think we should take immediate action to stop global warming, but just 30% believe the president should take action alone if necessary to deal with the problem.

The Environmental Protection Agency at the president’s direction is moving ahead on its own with emissions control regulations, but only 30% think the EPA should be able to implement major regulations like this without congressional approval.

Just over half (52%) of voters believe Senate approval should be necessary for those nominated by the president to senior government positions, as is now the case in most instances. Twenty-eight percent (28%) do not think Senate approval should be necessary, while 20% are not sure.

Senate Democrats last year changed the rules for their chamber to allow presidential appointees to be approved by a simple majority vote. Prior to the change from 60 votes for approval, Republicans were able to delay and derail many of Obama’s nominees. Voters don’t agree with that GOP strategy: 50% believe every presidential nominee should receive an up or down vote on the floor of the Senate. Just 22% disagree, with 29% more who are undecided.

Seventy-eight percent (78%) of Republicans believe Obama has been less faithful to the Constitution than most other presidents, a view shared by 43% of unaffiliated voters and just 17% of Democrats. Among Democratic voters, 39% say the president has been more faithful to the Constitution, while another 39% say his level of allegiance has been about the same. Among unaffiliated voters, 17% say Obama has been more faithful to the Constitution than most of his predecessors, and 35% describe his faithfulness as about the same.

Republicans and unaffiliateds also believe much more strongly that Senate approval should be necessary for all those nominated by the president to senior government positions.

Eighty-seven percent (87%) of voters who say they are part of the Tea Party think Obama has been less faithful to the Constitution than most of his predecessors in the White House, while just 35% of those not in the grassroots movement agree.

The Political Class isn’t happy with the status quo: 54% of these voters think the president should go it alone on issues he considers important to the nation. Sixty-two percent (62%) of Mainstream voters disagree and believe the government should only do what has been agreed upon by the president and Congress.

Mainstream voters are twice as likely as those in the Political Class to believe the president has been less faithful to the Constitution than most other presidents.

Eighty percent (80%) of all voters say they have been following recent news reports about the president and Congress, with 45% who are following Very Closely. Those 40 and over are following this news much more closely than younger voters are.

Just eight percent (8%) think Congress is doing a good or excellent job.

Most Republican voters think their representatives in Congress have lost touch with the party’s base over the last several years, while most Democrats believe their Congress members have done a good job representing what their party stands for.

Fifty-six percent (56%) of Americans think the Constitution should be left alone. Thirty-three percent (33%) believe minor changes are needed in the nation's foundational document.

Additional information from this survey and a full demographic breakdown are available to Platinum Members only.

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