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Poll: Obama's Speech Buoyed Public Support

President Obama attempt to explain his plans for health care reform to the American public Wednesday night appear to have been successful — to some extent. Special Report: Health Care

A CBS News poll shows that Americans now give him the best marks of his presidency on handling health care, but they're still divided over whether he's clearly explained his plan. And only 22 percent of those asked said the reforms now being considered would help them personally.

The day after Mr. Obama's congressional address, CBS re-interviewed 678 adults first questioned in a poll conducted August 27-31.

Last week, just 40 percent of these adults approved of how the president was handling health care. More, 47 percent, disapproved. After the speech, 52 percent said they approved and only 38 percent said they disapproved. Those are the best assessments for Mr. Obama's handling of health care shown all year by CBS News Polls.

President Obama's speech was particularly successful in unifying Democrats. Now, 85 percent of them approve of his handling of health care.

Approval rates also rose among independents and Republicans, but independents are still divided and only 17 percent of Republicans approve of the president's health care actions.

However, a majority of all adults still aren't sure he has met one important goal; clarifying what reforms would mean — although there has been major improvement. Before the speech, just 33 percent said Mr. Obama had clearly explained his plans for reform. That rose to 42 percent afterward, but 43 percent still said he had not clearly explained his plans.

All of the improvement on this question came from those who watched the speech. A majority of those who watched the speech, 58 percent, said the president had explained his plans, up from 40 percent before the speech. But among those who didn't watch, only one in four now say he has explained his plans — the same percentage as before the speech. Poll Database

Still, most Americans remain skeptical about how reforms currently under consideration in Congress would affect them personally. Just 22 percent of Americans think the reforms under consideration in Congress would help them personally. Twenty-seven percent think the new plans would hurt them. Those numbers have hardly changed at all since last week.

More From the Poll:

Support for Public Option Grows

Read the Complete Poll

Full coverage of the president's speech on health care:

Obama Tells Congress to Stop Bickering
Full Video Full Transcript Speech Highlights
GOP Response: "It's Time to Start Over"
Marc Ambinder: Will Obama's Sales Job Work?
Mark Knoller: Obama Willing to Compromise - Up to a Point
Was Obama Clear on the Public Option?
Ted Kennedy's Letter to Obama
Rep. Wilson Apologizes for Obama Speech Outburst
Analysis: The Road Ahead for Health Care

This poll was conducted by telephone on September 10, 2009 among 648 adults first interviewed by CBS News August 27-31, 2009. Phone numbers were dialed from samples of both standard land-line and cell phones. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus four percentage points. While the error for subgroups is higher, the error on measures of individual change is smaller.

This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

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