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Voters Oppose Obama Acting Alone But Don’t Think House Can Stop Him

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Most voters agree with Republicans in Congress that the president does not have the right to change laws without Congress’ approval, but they doubt a House lawsuit will stop him from acting on his own.

The House voted last week to sue President Obama for exceeding his constitutional authority by making changes in the new national health care law after it had been passed by Congress. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that only 22% of Likely U.S. Voters believe the president should be able to change a law passed by Congress if he thinks the change will make the law work better.

Sixty-three percent (63%) think any changes in a law should be approved first by Congress. Fifteen percent (15%) are not sure. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Forty-five percent (45%) favor the House’s decision to sue the president to stop some of his executive actions on the grounds that they exceed the powers given him by the Constitution. But just as many (44%) oppose the lawsuit. Eleven percent (11%) are undecided.

However, only 30% think it is at least somewhat likely that the lawsuit, even if it is successful, will stop the president from taking executive actions on initiatives he has proposed that Congress refuses to go along with. Fifty-six percent (56%) consider this unlikely. This includes 11% who say the lawsuit is Very Likely to stop the president from acting alone and 21% who say it is Not At All Likely to work.

Fifty-five percent (55%) of 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%) think Obama should take action alone if Congress does not approve the initiatives he has proposed.

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on July 31- August 1, 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.

When it comes to executive actions he has taken in the White House, a plurality (44%) of voters thinks Obama 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.

Not surprisingly, 89% of Republicans and 70% of voters not affiliated with either major party think any changes a president wants to make in a law should be approved by Congress first, but just 34% of Democrats agree.

Seventy-seven percent (77%) of voters in the president’s party oppose the lawsuit to stop him from going it alone. Eighty percent (80%) of GOP voters and unaffiliateds by a narrower 47% to 40% margin favor the House lawsuit. But voters in all three groups agree there is little chance that the suit, even if successful, will stop the president from taking executive actions on initiatives he has proposed that Congress refuses to go along with.

Among voters who believe the president should be able to make changes in a law that he thinks will make it work better, 87% oppose the House lawsuit. Sixty-seven percent (67%) of those who feel Congress needs to approve those changes first favor the suit against the president.

Seventy-seven percent (77%) of all voters say they have been following recent news reports about Congress’ relationship with the president at least somewhat closely. This includes 46% who have been following Very Closely.

Forty-nine percent (49%) think we should take immediate action to stop global warming, but just 30% believe the president should take action without Congress’ approval if necessary to deal with the problem.

Voters continue to give the U.S. health care system low marks but also remain convinced that Obamacare will only make things worse

Critics of the president have called for his impeachment and for lawsuits challenging his executive actions, but most voters nix both ideas. Better, they say, to elect an opposition Congress. 

Heading in to the 2014 elections, most voters are unhappy with Congress’ performance, and just 25% think their member of Congress deserves reelection. Most Republican voters continue to believe that 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.

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

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