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Poll: Health-care reform more popular after passage than before


One of the predictions that I and many others had about the health-care reform bill was that it would become more popular after passage than it was before passage. Voters like success, the media covers winners more positively than losers, and people take their cues from outcomes. The first poll taken entirely after the House vote bears that out: 50% were enthusiastic or pleased while 42% were angry or disappointed. Similarly, 49% thought this a good thing for the country while 40% thought it bad.

The poll is a Gallup poll, and as they say, that's a sharp improvement over the pre-passage numbers. On 3/9, they asked whether you'd advise your representative to vote for the bill. About 45% said yes, while 48% said no. So there's been a flip from plurality opposition to plurality support. This is, of course, just one poll, amd soon we'll know if it's a general trend.

By Ezra Klein  |  March 23, 2010; 4:57 PM ET
Categories:  Polls  
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As you and Paul K said earlier, the headlines will be about how great the dems are for passing the bill and what it will do for people or (if it fails) how weak and pitiful the dems are and how they can't govern. I am happy that option 1 was chosen by dems.

Posted by: srw3 | March 23, 2010 5:37 PM | Report abuse


have you ever posted a negative poll about Obama?

I personally like this one:

Run by Dems.

As you may have heard, President Obama has proposed a plan to change the health care system that passed in the House of Representatives and the Senate. From what you have heard about this plan, do you favor or oppose Obama's health care proposal?
40% Favor, 52% Oppose

Imagine what Rasmussen says?

Overall the average is 40 favor 52 oppose right now. Could it change sure but let's be honest about it, ok?

Posted by: visionbrkr | March 23, 2010 5:44 PM | Report abuse

I am so proud of you President Obama - keep it up you're on a roll!

Posted by: ronimacz | March 23, 2010 5:53 PM | Report abuse

How about Obama's own poll numbers, Ezra?

Posted by: tomtildrum | March 23, 2010 5:58 PM | Report abuse

"Overall the average is 40 favor 52 oppose right now. Could it change sure but let's be honest about it, ok?"

First, your favorite poll is a bit out of date: "3/15-18/10"

Second, your favorite poll from 6 days ago says this: "Favorable / Unfavorable
Republican Party: 29 / 47
Democratic Party: 35 / 44
Barack Obama: 49 / 40"

Third, Ezra said this about the poll he mentioned today: "This is, of course, just one poll, amd soon we'll know if it's a general trend."

As of this moment, Ezra's information and conclusions are actually quite timely, reasonable, and even-handed. So, let's be honest about it, ok?

Posted by: slag | March 23, 2010 6:00 PM | Report abuse

Liberals think they won the war. It was a battle.

It ain't over 'till it's over

The bill passed both houses with no Republicans on board. They own it. Even Medicare had at least half the other party on board. Also, it was passed when the polls clearly demonstrated that a majority of the citizenry did not want this bill, but listening to the people, even their own constituancies, didn't matter.

These same liberals will be mystified when they experience the blowback from this....and there will be a lot of blowback.

My prediction is that there will remain some type of reform (which was needed), but this it will be unrecognizable by 2013 as a new Congress essentially guts this socialist bill.

Posted by: WrongfulDeath | March 23, 2010 6:06 PM | Report abuse

"Liberals think they won the war. It was a battle."

Yes. Waterloo was a battle.

Posted by: slag | March 23, 2010 6:08 PM | Report abuse

Remember the hysteria. Remember the dire predictions. Nothing short of a Totalitarian Socialist Dictatorship!!! 80-85% of Americans will see no difference between now and election day. Destruction of America and Freedom!!!
Weeks, months will go by and America will still be here, free as ever ...except that more will have health insurance and fewer will have it taken away by insurance companies after they've paid for years and then gotten sick.

Those whackjobs who only listen to Glen "Social Justice Christians are really Commies" Beck on Fox will be digging Fox holes anticipating the overthrow of America by radical Socialist Muslims from Hawaii with degrees from Harvard Law and secret political training from the Institute of Chicago Machine Politics while the rest of America continues the recovery from 8 years of disastrous non-governing by the Republicans.

Life goes on. Republicans become more and more annoying and irrelevant.

Posted by: thebobbob | March 23, 2010 6:19 PM | Report abuse

@ WrongfulDeath :My prediction is that there will remain some type of reform (which was needed), but this it will be unrecognizable by 2013 as a new Congress essentially guts this socialist bill.

Yes this bill was patterned after a proposal made by well known socialists Bob Dole, Howard Baker, and Tom Daschle and have several elements from the 1993 socialist health care takeover plan from those well known socialists, Newt Gingrich and Trent Lott.

rightwingnuts, a note from Jon Stewart

See now you're in the minority. It's supposed to taste like a s#%t taco. And by the way, if I remember correctly when a disagreement was expressed about that President's actions when ya'll were in power I believe the response was "Why do you hate America?".

Posted by: srw3 | March 23, 2010 6:27 PM | Report abuse

If I had been polled, judging by the way these questions had been worded, I probably would have been one of those in the early 'no' camp. Yes I am glad it is now a signed bill and we can move on to more important things that are truly bi-partisan like GPS air traffic control improvements. Wow did you see it, 93 Senators voting yes to spend money and not a single Republican saying NO. Unbelievable.

Posted by: bcause | March 23, 2010 6:33 PM | Report abuse

@vb: latest kos research 2000 poll 3/18
Obama approve 53%
disapprove 41%

I bet these go up this week because of HCR passing.

I personally think that we focus too much on polls especially 7 months out from the next election, but I don't think that Ezra's poll quote from gallup is somehow suspect.

Posted by: srw3 | March 23, 2010 6:38 PM | Report abuse


Though you usually do a far better job with this sort of data than many journalists, this is pretty obviously a stretch. There probably will be a bump but its a bit disingenuous to draw the conclusion that it already has from this one poll

The questions are far too different to warrant the comparison. Most problematic is the ambiguity Gallup left in the post-passage question. The immediate and dramatic bump can probably be accounted for by those who may not have supported the bill (or were indifferent) but are just relieved that the process is over and they don't have to hear about it anymore. If you read the question, that sort of reaction makes perfect sense.

Posted by: mschemper | March 23, 2010 6:40 PM | Report abuse

So for all that were against the healthcare reform-- how many of you all will be the first to get a piece of the "pie" and admit u were first in line-- Republicans, who cheered and clapped at tea party goers who spit and slandered innocent by standers.

Posted by: yhorsefire | March 23, 2010 6:40 PM | Report abuse

" The immediate and dramatic bump can probably be accounted for by those who may not have supported the bill (or were indifferent) but are just relieved that the process is over and they don't have to hear about it anymore. "

Well the Yes votes may have many reasons for doing so but the No votes are pretty clearly saying that they don't want the bill and they are in the minority. No one who dislikes the bill would be glad that it passed.

Posted by: srw3 | March 23, 2010 7:00 PM | Report abuse


Here's a suggestion for a post: A little positing story on what would be happening right now, and in the future, if the Democrats hadn't had the guts and the caring to pass the health care bill.

Instead of today 49% thinking the bill was good for the country and 40% bad, it would be 60% thinking the bill was bad and 32% thinking it was good.

The Democrats would be in disarray and at each others throats. The base would be staying home instead of very motivated to go to the polls to prevent even partial repeal. Campaign contributions and volunteers would plummet.

The Republicans would be gloating and energized, and all over the media about how they had saved the country from socialism – and how they will do the same for finance reform and cap and trade.

Poll numbers for Democrats would plummet and the news would be full of stories on the crack up, mistakes and failure of the Democrats, their incompetence and inability to govern.

And of course, the percentage without insurance and premiums would continue to soar.

Posted by: RichardHSerlin | March 23, 2010 7:05 PM | Report abuse


the point was they were Democratic pollsters and they couldn't even cheat it up to a majority favoring it. And if you've got a newer poll from Carville and Greenberg i'd love to see it. That was the point not the timeliness of the poll that's less than a week old.


really? KOS? aren't they a tad slanted? As I said I'm sure if i cared enough i could pull up a Rasmussen poll or a Fox poll that showed that 90% knew this was a communist plot (speaking of that loved the Jon Stewart skit last week about Beck, hysterical!)

Sure it'll be over the long run. that's why I prefer to watch the main pollster poll and see where it goes. Its been pretty steady at what I said 40-52 against.

Richard Serlin,

you really don't think premiums are going down do you? The on effect on this legislation is going to make them go up and make pharma and some other PLAYERS in the game rich. Don't be naive.

Posted by: visionbrkr | March 23, 2010 7:51 PM | Report abuse

The dems read the people correct. People usually vote in their best interests. I'd guess that many people are now getting a bettter understanding of what the bill offers and will not stand for removal of those items that serve their best interests, no denial upon becoming ill, tax credits for small buisnesses - long due, no denial for pre-exixting conditions, plugging the doughnot hole etc.

Posted by: cch1 | March 23, 2010 8:00 PM | Report abuse

Probably the reason for the swing is more basic. Most polls that had it broken down showed that about 15-20 percent of those who opposed the bill simply thought it was not far reaching enough.

However, while they might not think it was enough before, they are willing to accept it now that it has passed. They have recognized that this was as far as things could go.

Probably, what has happened is that those 1 in 5 who opposed for the reason stated are saying it's a good thing that it has passed. That would account for the 10 point swing.

Posted by: backell | March 23, 2010 8:23 PM | Report abuse

This poll, as reported, merely has a similar problem to the CNN poll that was initially reported as a negative poll. It combines into the "no" category two very distinct and opposite groups: those who oppose the bill because they feel it's too liberal, AND those who oppose it because they feel it's not progressive enough.

There's a case to be made that the latter group will swing quickly to the "yes" side now that the bill has actually passed. But even those who'd reject that logic surely can't quibble with breaking the responses into three categories rather than two, because the opponents' positions are actually diametrically opposed and therefore combining them presents a misleading picture.

If the "no" group is broken out into two categories, clearly the "yes" group will be the plurality.

Posted by: laboo | March 23, 2010 8:30 PM | Report abuse

"'Liberals think they won the war. It was a battle.'

Yes. Waterloo was a battle.

Posted by: slag | March 23, 2010 6:08 PM"

And I think this health care bill was someone's Waterloo, but it wasn't Obama's.

Posted by: paulflorez | March 23, 2010 9:03 PM | Report abuse

Adding to my last comment:

The Republicans would claim vindication that the American people hated this plan – and the poll numbers would support them. They would claim that Americans are agianst big governemnt and so it's suicide for the Democrats to support any action on global warming, or economic stimulus, or you name it.

The Tea Party would feel completely vindicated in their 100% no approach and would exert such pressure on the Republican Party (you think it's extreme now) that they would be a solid wall of no for almost any major initiative imaginable at least until the 2012 election – and with the disaster of health care they might even take both houses of congress and the presidency in 2012 – imagine what that could mean.

And to visionbkr: The highly expert, non-partisan, and respected CBO estimated that premiums for a given policy would be lower with this plan than without, even without the subsidies, and way lower once you add them in.

Posted by: RichardHSerlin | March 23, 2010 9:41 PM | Report abuse

Except that a new Bloomberg poll shows 50% disapproving and only 39% approving:

This follows a CNN poll on Monday that showed 59% disapproving:

Wonder how come you forgot to report those?

The public isn't buying it. Make sure you come armed with information because the Pro-Obama propaganda voices like Ezra Klein are going to be trying to spin this loser scam bill into a win for Obama.

Don't let them: this bill forces you to buy expensive corporate healthcare from predatory lenders. If you don't, the IRS will come after you. Healthcare premiums are going to rise. And it adds trillions to the debt.

It's a bad bill and the Obamacrats know it. They just want you to forget it. Don't forget it!

Posted by: DJK1 | March 23, 2010 10:14 PM | Report abuse


I took this from CBO's website on projections from 2015-2020.

"On that basis, CBO projects that real GDP will grow at an average annual rate of 2.4 percent during the 2015–2020 period, which matches the growth rate that is ­projected for potential output during those years. The unemployment rate will average 5 percent between 2015 and 2020, which is equal to CBO’s estimate of the natural rate of unemployment"

I'd LOVE to believe we'll get to 5% unemployment by 2015 but I highly doubt it. Many jobs that have been lost overseas are gone forever. If healthcare costs in the US compared to the rest of the world is a main cause (and I believe it is to an extent as well as poor trade agreements and poor enforcement) then there is very little chance we'll get to those type of employment levels.

If we don't reach those levels then it continues to be a drag on revenues, the ever expanding social safety net and the CBO's figures will be proven wrong.

The fact is we all know they'll be wrong. They're just a scientific guess.

Also data that is calculated by CBO as I'd suspect you know is only as good as the data given to it and under the means they are asked to decipher it. In other words, Dems can make statistics dance, just like Republicans could do when they were in power.

And all of this doesn't even factor into the ideas that government won't have the intestinal fortitude to actually do things like listen to IMAC when recommendations are made. You do remember the cervical cancer rage for a couple weeks this past summer, no? If a politician (R or D) thinks if they take a stand and it won't get them re-elected they'll back off on cost control in favor or remaining in power.

cont . . .

Posted by: visionbrkr | March 23, 2010 10:53 PM | Report abuse

I for one was always amazed that the Republicans claimed that they were the only ones in touch with this strange unitary entity, "the American people". But that unitary entity was their construct, and presumably its view was divined by taking the view of the majority of the American people to be the view of the American people.

That said, the Gallup poll today shows the majority of the American people now support the passing of health care.

Surely it would be only reasonable therefore to now expect a great - and lockstep - turning-on-a-dime by the Republicans and the outbreak of instant bipartisanship.

Posted by: Transcept | March 23, 2010 11:01 PM | Report abuse

also Rep Ryan asked CBO to score the bill assuming the things that many conservatives and even a liberal or two (Lawrence O'Donnell) don't believe will ever happen like the excise tax).

here's what they said:

and a nice little excerpt:

"If the changes described above were made to the legislation, CBO would
expect that federal budget deficits during the decade beyond 2019 would increase
relative to those projected under current law—with a total effect during that
decade in a broad range around one-quarter percent of GDP."

Posted by: visionbrkr | March 23, 2010 11:02 PM | Report abuse

what Ezra won't tell you is that the wording of the Gallup poll released today is a wording that Gallup had never used in the past, in regard to health care. Ezra compares apples an oranges. There's no bump if the wording is inconsistent from one poll to another.

Posted by: kingsbridge77 | March 24, 2010 12:50 AM | Report abuse

DJK1 said
"Except that a new Bloomberg poll shows 50% disapproving and only 39% approving:

This follows a CNN poll on Monday that showed 59% disapproving:

Wonder how come you forgot to report those?"

Probably because the point of this post was to show the difference in the polls before and after the vote. The Gallup poll was done the day after the vote, while the other two began on the 19th and continued through either Sunday or Monday.

Kingsbridge77 - I'm wondering how Gallup could have worded the question differently given what they were asking. They asked " you think it was a good thing or a bad thing that Congress passed the bill..."
Was the structure of this question somehow misleading? Should they have pretended the bill hadn't passed?

Posted by: randakost | March 24, 2010 1:36 AM | Report abuse


I love Lawrence O'Donnell but I don't count much on his predictions. He predicted that we wouldn't go to Iraq. Once we were there he predicted, repeatedly, that Bush would pull out before the end of his first term and then before the end of his second. He also predicted that health care would never pass. Lawrence is very good at explaining Senate procedure and political analysis, but not at predicting outcomes.

Posted by: randakost | March 24, 2010 1:42 AM | Report abuse

Today I donated $100 as a congratulations gift at
I'm looking forward to wearing the "Health Care Reform" t-shirt, with the Hope and Change logo, they will send me in return. I'm a retired Colorado homebuilder and have been around the block a few times. Although I'm a confirmed independent to maintain objectivity in the issues I am a solid supporter of President Obama and his agenda. My hope is as I wear the shirt I can engage in conversations with folks I meet about health care reform and share my insights - in particular, list the lies and hypocrisy that is running roughshod through the GOP/teabagger crowd. The bill is not perfect, Obama admits this, but it was shameful the way the GOP did the "waterloo dance" to "kill the bill". If I have any success they will pay a price for their anti-American, immoral tactics - which amount to nothing more than a naked grab for power. God Bless America.

Posted by: truthseeker13 | March 24, 2010 1:56 AM | Report abuse

how is it that those who listen to Glen Beck are the commies when we want less government control not more. We wish for one thing and one thing alone Life liberty and the pursuit of happiness how can we do this when the government decides how we make our every move. I am not saying that this one act of health care reform is going to be the end of all life but I will say it is a foot hold that will continue to grow and destroy our wish and goal of freedom. Thomas Jefferson said this "A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned - this is the sum of good government." I implore you to see reason to understand that with the price of such freedom lost (and yes this will be a steep price even from a bill that seems small to some). You do not think you will pay for this bill? come on think about it the government is taxing who the pharmacies and insurance plans. Who do you think is going to pay for these tax increases. Do you honestly think the insurance companies are going to. No! It will be passed to the YOU AND ME! Think about that America and if nothing is done soon watch as our worst fears become reality! "All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent."
Thomas Jefferson

Posted by: wintersa2 | March 24, 2010 4:14 AM | Report abuse

When are Americans going to realize en masse that republicans lie to them, repeatedly? They lied about 9/11. They lied about Iraq. They lie as a matter of strategy.

Posted by: GeorgHerbet | March 24, 2010 8:41 AM | Report abuse

DJK1 - the CNN poll shows 59% oppose becaue 13% of those wanted the public option and/or single payer.

Inside the poll you will find that 52% Support the Bill or want it to be more liberal. 43% oppose for being too liberal.

The polls have been repeatedly reported as everyone opposing the bill being Conservative - This is patently False!

The Truth inside all these polls has been, and continues to be, the Majortiy Supports or want the reform to be more liberal and the Minority opposes!

Posted by: CindyLugo | March 24, 2010 9:35 AM | Report abuse

This entire discussion has been idiotic from the get-go. People that were just saying NO, like Senator Mitch Whinehouse, were being lumped in with those not satisfied with the breadth and width of the reform. Single payer constituents aren't about to vote for Republicans because they didn't get evertthing they wanted.

Hopefully, they'll realize that voting for Nader got them Scalia appointing W, and Ken Blackwell stealing Cuyahoga County, but you can never tell with those progressiver-than-thou Spock babies.

Posted by: aprilglaspie | March 24, 2010 9:44 AM | Report abuse

aprilglaspie - progressives that wanted single payer are NOT voting for republicans. The only people voting for repubicans are Independents who leaned republican or what we term blue-dog democrats.

The people who inside the polls say they opposed the bill because no public option and/or single payer - support the bill now, as the poll Ezra posted here shows. They are going to work to add a public option and up the date states can implement single payer. (the bill includes a provision for states to implement single-payer systems in 2017.

All along a Majority supports the reform - and the minority opposes - but the reporting in the media has been irresponsible and appalling. Thy consistently strive to create and propogate the most conflict - it boosts ratings and profits, but does a disservice to the American people.

Media has allowed people to spout outright lies without correction. Lies are never a legitimate argument but to treat them as such makes people believe the lies are legitmate.

The Majority has to get motivated to vote -the lunatic disgusting behavior and hatred of the minority rightwing has been stoked and incited and they show up to vote. We have to motivate the majority to actually vote.

Posted by: CindyLugo | March 24, 2010 10:04 AM | Report abuse

oh look here's a new poll you won't see around here.

Posted by: visionbrkr | March 24, 2010 10:05 AM | Report abuse


Yet another poll taken before the health care vote, which is why it won't be posted here. This post, once again, is about the difference in polling before and AFTER the health care vote.

Posted by: randakost | March 24, 2010 10:10 AM | Report abuse

"Don't let them: this bill forces you to buy expensive corporate healthcare from predatory lenders. If you don't, the IRS will come after you. Healthcare premiums are going to rise. And it adds trillions to the debt."

Predatory *lenders*? Really? Ummm, health insurance companies are sure as hell predatory, but lenders they are not. Until yesterday, these predators could take as much of your money every month as they could get away with, distribute as much as they wanted to their shareholders, and then cut you off when you got sick. As of today, they have to spend 80-85% of total revenue on your care, they can't deny you coverage for "pre-existing conditions" (like being over 50, or female), and they can't rescind your coverage when you get sick. As of 2014, yes, you will be required to buy insurance--but it'll be subsidized by the government. So they're still predators, but now they're on leashes and can't open their nasty jaws all the way.

Now personally, I'm in that 15-20% that wanted single-payer national health insurance and held out for at least a strong public option to contain costs. I'm still for that, and I support Rep. Alan Grayson's bill to allow anyone to buy into Medicare as the most expeditious route to national insurance. I also support state-by-state initiatives in that direction. I despise the entire private (and especially for-profit) health insurance racket, and I hate the fact that our government is so compromised by the campaign finance system and by corporate oligarchy that it was impossible to get universal national insurance on this round. Private health insurance as a *system* (though it could remain as an option) deserves to be abolished. I for one will do all I can to see that it is, and that we get a sane, humane, and universal health care system in this country as a basic right.

Posted by: adamfc | March 24, 2010 12:13 PM | Report abuse

With the passage of this bill. It appears from and analysis that employers nationwide will be assessed a $2,000 penalty for every employee not offered group health insurance or commonly referred to employer sponsored health insurance. Does this include part time employees that traditionally didn’t qualify or buy health insurance in the first place because of the cost vrs. Hours worked? How in the world is an employer going to absorb this cost? So if an employee doesn’t want to participate in paying their share, the employer is penalized $2,000?

Posted by: mikeoliphant | March 24, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

What does "glad" mean. Without any type of definition that could mean a different thing to different people. Some people are glad because it passed. Some people are glad because it allows this country to move one. Some people are glad because the bill could have been worse.

It doesn't say if people approve of the bill or disapprove of the bill.

It is complete a non-sensical question to support a desired outcome to confirm ones one believes about HRC.

Posted by: SteelHop | March 24, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse

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