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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Obama, Health Reform Support Solid As Congress Mulls Amendments

DemFromCT has an informative Kos post on support for the President and health care reform, among other issues. He quotes from Jonathan Weisman’s Wall St. Journal report on On the latest WSJ/NBC News poll conducted 9/17-20 by Hart/McInturff:

…The president has shored up eroding support for his top domestic priority, with the survey showing he has arrested the slide in support for his health-care plan following this month’s speech to Congress.

On the same poll, from MSNBC’s First Read:

According to the poll, the president’s health-care numbers have slightly increased, although that increase remains within the margin of error. Thirty-nine percent believe Obama’s health-care plan is a good idea, which is up three points since August. Forty-one percent say it’s a bad idea.
In addition, 45% approve of Obama’s handling of health care, while 46% disapprove, which is up from his 41%-47% score last month. By comparison, just 21% approve of the Republican Party’s handling of the issue…And who will get blamed if health care doesn’t get passed this year? Per the poll, 10% say Obama, 16% say congressional Democrats, and 37% say congressional Republicans.

From the poll’s PDF:

Do you think it would be better to pass Barack Obama’s health care plan and make its changes to the health care system or to not pass this plan and keep the current health care system?
Better to pass this plan, make these changes 45
Better to not pass this plan, keep current system 39

The poll indicates 73 percent of respondents agree that it is “extremely important” or “quite important” to give people a choice of a public plan administered by the federal government and a private plan for health insurance.” When asked however, “Would you favor or oppose creating a health care plan adminsitered by the federal government that would compete directly with private health insurance companies?”, 46 percent favored the idea, with 48 percent opposed. DemFromCt notes that only 15 percent of respondents said they understood the legislative proposals being debated in congress “very well,” and he adds:

What they do understand is that they want something that requires that health insurance companies cover people with pre-existing medical conditions (63% say “absolutely must be included”, another 26% “would prefer” it be included), but people don’t want mandates to buy insurance (23% don’t want that included, and another 34% say it absolutely must not be in there).
…We’ve reached a stabilization of opposition and support of Obama’s health care policies for now, along with job approval. Obama continues with strong personal approval numbers.
The fate of the Congress rests with health reform and until that’s settled, the public is likely to take a dim view of Congress, especially on the R side. But that won’t stop voters from taking it out on Democrats… the generic D vs R congressional number in this poll is only +3 for Dems. If I were them, I’d take this as a strong signal to produce something on health reform. Failure is not an option.

As the Senate Finance Committee takes health care reform amendments and proposals, this poll indicates that there is a fair amount of ambivalence in public attitudes toward some of the particulars of health care reform, but not about the need for reform — and who is expected to lead the way forward.

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