Americans Overwhelmingly Say It's OK To Criticize The President

Especially if he's from the other party.
President Barack Obama listens to President-elect Donald Trump in the White House Oval Office on Nov. 10, 2016.
President Barack Obama listens to President-elect Donald Trump in the White House Oval Office on Nov. 10, 2016.

Americans overwhelmingly agree it’s fine to criticize the president of the United States ― how fine, exactly, depends on which president they’re talking about.

Sixty-three percent of respondents say it’s appropriate for Americans to publicly criticize the president of the United States, a new HuffPost/YouGov survey finds, with just 19 percent believing it’s inappropriate.

That sentiment holds broadly true among both parties, with just 21 percent of Democrats and 26 percent of Republicans saying it’s inappropriate to criticize the president. 

Normally, polls focusing on the White House are unavoidably tinted to some extent by partisanship. But the current transition period offers a brief eclipse of sorts, as it’s less clear whether questions about the presidency bring to mind President Barack Obama or President-elect Donald Trump.

Exactly who the respondents are thinking about turns out to matter. Both men are seen as fair game ― asked specifically about the propriety of criticizing either leader, just 21 percent of Americans say criticizing Obama is inappropriate, and only 19 percent that criticism of Trump is inappropriate.

Unlike the reactions to the broader question, however, responses show a definite partisan edge.

Democrats say by a 55-point margin, 72 percent to 17 percent, that it’s appropriate to criticize Trump. They say the same of Obama by a much smaller 28-point margin, 59 percent to 31 percent. 

On the opposite side, Republicans say by a 52-point margin, 69 percent to 17 percent, that criticism of Obama is appropriate. They consider criticism of Trump appropriate by a smaller 23-point margin, 53 percent to 30 percent.

The HuffPost/YouGov poll consisted of 1,000 completed interviews conducted Jan. 7-9 among U.S. adults, using a sample selected from YouGov’s opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population.

The Huffington Post has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls.You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov’s nationally representative opinion polling. Data from all HuffPost/YouGov polls can be found here. More details on the polls’ methodology are available here.

Most surveys report a margin of error that represents some, but not all, potential survey errors. YouGov’s reports include a model-based margin of error, which rests on a specific set of statistical assumptions about the selected sample, rather than the standard methodology for random probability sampling. If these assumptions are wrong, the model-based margin of error may also be inaccurate. Click here for a more detailed explanation of the model-based margin of error.