Tuesday, March 23, 2010

USA Today poll--Americans have 9-point favorable view of health care reform

It has been a while since I've talked about public opinion polls, but I do find this poll very interesting. This may be the first poll I've seen taken after the health care reform bill passed Congress, and was signed by President Obama today. It is certainly not going to be the last poll on this issue. From USA Today:

WASHINGTON — Americans by 9 percentage points have a favorable view of the health care overhaul that President Obama signed into law Tuesday, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds, a notable turnaround from surveys before the vote that showed a plurality against it.

By 49%-40% those surveyed say it was "a good thing" rather than a bad one that Congress passed the bill. Half describe their reaction in positive terms, as "enthusiastic" or "pleased," while about four in 10 describe it in negative ways, as "disappointed" or "angry."

The largest single group, 48%, calls the bill "a good first step" that should be followed by more action on health care. An additional 4% also have a favorable view, saying the bill makes the most important changes needed in the nation's health care system.

Remember that the Republicans have consistently reiterated that the American people are against the health care reform bill. Now that the bill has passed, this first poll is showing that Americans are starting to warm up to health care reform. All that GOP fear-mongering over health care, and their incessant rhetoric that the American people are against health care has become baseless. Now with President Obama going into campaign mode to sell this health care law, I have to wonder what direction the next polls will be taking as Americans digest the specifics of this law?

The USA Today poll shows that President Obama job standing is at 46 percent excellent or good, while 31 percent call it poor. Congressional Democrats job standing are split at 32 percent good and 33 percent poor. The job standing for congressional Republicans on health care is 26 percent excellent or good, while 34 percent say it has been poor. More Americans apparently disapprove of the Republican job standing than approve. My guess is that Americans did not like the negative rhetoric, fear-mongering, obstructionism and hatred that has been spewed by the Republicans and the hard-lined conservative activists during this health care debate. Now it is starting to show.

Steve Benen at The Washington Monthly makes a brilliant analysis here:

This is the Republican nightmare coming to fruition -- the country gets a better system, Democrats get a victory, the president looks like a hero, and the country is pleased with the results.

It's not too late for Republicans to reconsider that "repeal" strategy, if only the party's unhinged base would let them.

The Republicans have certainly boxed themselves into a corner here. Moderating their strategy of working with the Democrats will anger their crazed, "unhinged base," that they've courted. Whatever moderates that are left in the GOP would also earn the wrath of Fox News and conservative commentators like Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage. So the Republicans continue to pander to the extremist votes. This will certainly alienate the moderates, non-partisans and independents, but will they continue supporting the Democrats this November? Especially now that health care reform has passed? I'm tempted to say yes, but it may be a close vote with the GOP pulling every dirty campaign trick and negative ads to use against the Democrats.

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