Poll suggests political consequences from U.S. healthcare deal
Think today’s U.S. Senate election in Massachusetts could be bad news for President Obama? Then consider what pollsters are saying now about the healthcare reform debate’s potential effect on the November congressional elections.
The latest ABC News/Washington Post poll shows little overall movement in public sentiment since August — only 44 percent of Americans favor healthcare reform vs. 51 percent who oppose it.
But findings also show popular support for reform losing some of its cohesion. As recently as November, 30 percent of Americans “strongly” backed proposed changes. But people in that category now account for only 22 percent. That compares with 39 percent who are strongly opposed.
But will those who oppose reform vote against reform-minded lawmakers in November, when Republicans hope to wrest control of Congress from Democrats?
The poll says 24 percent of Americans would vote against a lawmaker who backed healthcare reform, compared with 12 percent who would vote for one. The split is 26 percent vs. 10 percent among independents, who represent the key swing vote in close-fought elections.
Part of the problem for Obama and his reform allies may be popular perceptions that a final deal would lack a public option and tax health plans instead of the wealthy. The poll shows that Americans would prefer to tax their wealthier fellow citizens by 58 percent to 22 percent. They also favor the creation of a public health insurance program by 47 percent to 41 percent.
The Jan. 12-15 telephone survey of 1,083 U.S. adults has a 3.5 percent margin of error.
Photo Credits: Reuters/Jim Young (Obama and Senate Democrats); Reuters/Change the Works handout (Healthcare Reform Supporter); Reuters/Kevin Lamarque (Anti-Reform Protest Sign)