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Rounding up the post-passage health-care reform polls

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Nate Silver looks at the post-passage polling on health-care reform. The USA Today/Gallup poll that showed a sharp jump looks to have been an outlier. The emerging picture is that the bill got a bit more popular, Obama's handling of the bill is getting a bit more respect, and congressional Democrats look a bit better.

More polling data is starting to pour in on health care reform and it generally contains decent, but not great, numbers for Democrats. Most of the polls show a bump of some kind in approval for health care reform -- but it's not as large as that implied by the USA Today/Gallup one-day poll that was released on Tuesday. If we take an average of the four polls that have been conducted entirely after the health care bill passed the House, rather (those from Gallup, Rasmussen, Quinnipiac and CBS), they average out to 43 percent in favor and 46 percent opposed. Those are numbers that I think Democrats would gladly take relative to where health care has been in the past, but it's not exactly as though the bill has become wildly popular -- nor is it likely to do so in advance of the midterms.

Of the polls that have come out so far, I would most recommend the one from Quinnipiac, who in essence did two separate large surveys just before and after the health care bill was passed. ... Quinnipiac found about a 4-5 point bump in support for the health care bill itself, although a larger bump (8 points) in Obama's handling of the issue. Obama's overall approval rating, on the other hand, was little changed. ... What's a bit more surprising is that Quinnipiac also found a decent-sized bump in approval of the Democrats in Congress: from a pathetically low 30 percent to a not-quite-as-awful 36 percent. And most of the bump came from independent voters, among whom approval increased from 19 percent to 33.

By Ezra Klein  |  March 26, 2010; 10:38 AM ET
Categories:  Polls  
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Next: Looking to the midterm election

Comments

RomneyCare not so unpopular after all? Who knew?

Posted by: luko | March 26, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse

I'm surprised the difference is so small for Democrats. I had gotten the impression that the Democrats were extremely irritated their party wasn't getting it done before HCR, but apparently it's the independents.

I'd actually mildly approve of the Democrats (in regards to their handling of HCR, at least) so I guess I'd be one of those 5% of Republicans.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | March 26, 2010 10:56 AM | Report abuse

This is why I would question the decision (made by Senator Baucus) to omit expedited judicial review from the Act. Generally, if one believes a lawsuit to be frivolous, one wants it to be reviewed quickly, bringing the matter to a close: by omitting expedited review, the Act essentially forces a protracted battle.

The polls seem to be accurate in that a plurality finds the Act objectionable (from what I'm reading, due to unwanted Federal presence, not due to concerns directly related to health) with a smaller minority favoring it. The onset of taxes and fees prior to the delivery of meaningful benefits may increase the level of objection, all while litigation continues to bring the Federalist aspects to public attention.

One potential positive outcome is that individual states will independently arrive at relatively conservative health care plans, obviating the need for Federal action: if the movement begins to believe both (a) health care reform is needed and (b) there are some things the Federal government cannot or should not do, the straightforward solution is for each state to implement its own program.

Posted by: rmgregory | March 26, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Quinnipiac used the same respondents. Could it be a sizable portion was trying to be consistent with their pre-passage answer?

Posted by: wimprange | March 26, 2010 11:00 AM | Report abuse

In addition, I still would like to see more polls that ask why people disapprove of the reforms. To see how much criticism is coming from the left because the reforms don't include at least a Public Option.

Posted by: wimprange | March 26, 2010 11:02 AM | Report abuse

rmgreggory, I think it's very doubtful that people are going to follow the court cases that closely. If it's overturned by the Supreme Court it will be a big deal, amping up Republican and deflating Dems, but otherwise it's just not that interesting. "The Plaintiff's filed a motion to reconsider the trial court's judgement!" HCR is passed now and most people, and news organizations, will move on to another topic.

I'd wager good money that even the right wing commentators like Rush and Beck will move on to another topic soon. It's just not interesting talking about fighting something which is already law. Again, that may change if there's a final court decision before November, but I think that's unlikely.

Posted by: MosBen | March 26, 2010 11:31 AM | Report abuse

I still really think the Dems should either try to pass something really popular through reconciliation (both to be passing something popular and to show a pattern of passing legislation over Republican obstruction) or take a strong and popular stance on FinReg knowing that they can't get it passed Republicans but can make them look bad.

Or who knows, maybe they should propose a ton of new smaller, targeted bills which all serve popular, progressive positions. Not only will it then look like the Republicans are obstructing a whole ton of stuff, but the Dems can say, "They told us the government couldn't do big reform on healthcare, so we're listening this time and offering up smaller reforms, but they're still obstructing!"

Posted by: MosBen | March 26, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse

I keep reading claims that a significant number of the people who were against the HCR bill (before passage) were against it because it didn't go far enough. Krugman makes the point again in his column today: "While many Americans disapprove of Obamacare, a significant number do so because they feel that it doesn’t go far enough." If so, why don't we have polls that ask that specific question? If such polls are out there, why aren't people using them to combat these that argument? I count myself in that group (happy this passed as a first step, but wished it went further). Keep up the good work...your blog is a daily stop for me now.

Posted by: micahlv | March 26, 2010 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Averaging the polls (Gallup, Rasmussen, Quinnipiac, and CBS) suggested that roughly 43% are in favor and 46% oppose the bill!

However,this is very misleading! Further research reveals that the majority APPROVE the passage of the bill by a LARGE margin - 49% approval vs. 40% opposed according to Gallup. The variance in ratings comes from the types of questions asked in these 4 different polls. The main reason why the 46% opposition by averaging the polls is that of the 46%, a large minority of that opposition wanted to see MORE government oversight and more reform - that's why they opposed the bill - they still are in favor of the passage of the bill by a large margin, they just wanted to see more reform!

Posted by: leochau12 | March 26, 2010 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Who the heck were those Democrats who approved of Congress before HCR passed? 63% pre-hcr? really? I would have thought it would have been much lower.

If you go to Nate silver's place, the results are bizarre: you also see a big bump from Republicans in approval of republicans in Congress AFTER HCR is passed. What are the Republican voters approving of?

Posted by: constans | March 26, 2010 1:52 PM | Report abuse

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