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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

TDS Co-Editor Ruy Teixeira: Public Supports HCR, But Clarity Needed

In his latest ‘Public Opinion Snapshot’ at the Center for American Progress web pages, TDS Co-Editor Ruy Teixeira provides an important update on political attitudes toward health care reform. Teixeira explains:

…In a Kaiser Family Foundation/Washington Post/Harvard Public Health follow-up survey to the Massachusetts election, voters in that election were asked their views on the Massachusetts Universal Health Insurance Law, a law “assuring that virtually all Massachusetts residents have health insurance.” Massachusetts voters said they favored that law by 68-27, and even conservative Scott Brown’s supporters backed the law by 51-44. As for Obama’s claim that the public is not well informed about the health care reform bills and would support these bills more if they were clearly explained, he seems to be on very secure ground according to the latest Kaiser Health Tracking poll. In that poll the public’s reaction to 27 different elements of health care reform legislation was tested, and in 22 of those cases the public had a net positive reaction, with more people favorably inclined toward the measure than unfavorably inclined.

Teixeira then cites “the 10 most strongly supported features of the legislation,” including:

tax credits to small businesses (73 percent said they were more likely to support legislation with this provision compared to 11 percent who said were less likely); health insurance exchange (67-16); won’t change most people’s existing health care arrangements (66-10); guaranteed issue of coverage despite pre-existing conditions (63-24); Medicaid expansion (62-22); extend dependent coverage through age 25 (60-22); help close the Medicare prescription drug doughnut hole (60-21); increased income taxes on the wealthy (59-24); subsidy assistance to individuals (57-24); and reduce the deficit (56-20).

But Teixeira cautions “much of the public—exactly Obama’s point—does not know these provisions are in the reform bills that passed the House and the Senate,” and adds,

According to the same poll, among the provisions above that were tested, lack of awareness ranged from a high of 56 percent for closing the doughnut hole to a low of 28 percent for subsidizing individuals. For most provisions, around 40 percent or more of the public was unaware the provisions were in the legislation.

As Teixeira concludes, Republican charges that the public opposes the Democratic health care reform plan are groundless — as usual, and President Obama is right on target in citing the need to promote public awareness of the legislation’s components.

2 comments on “TDS Co-Editor Ruy Teixeira: Public Supports HCR, But Clarity Needed

  1. tmginnova on

    I agree with lfriedland.
    As with so many other issues, the GOP narrative seems to win most public opinion battles. It helps that they use simple, bumper sticker-style messages, while unfortunately Democratic talking points seem more complicated.
    It also helps them that they all (politicians and media supporters) use the same talking points.
    Can Democrats be more effective and disciplined in their messaging? They’d better be. They have a good message which should get out more consistently and clearly.

  2. lfriedland on

    This is an important poll and Texeira’s explanation of it is useful. But as a strong Democrat and supporter of the president in the battleground state of Wisconsin, it’s hard to understand the treatment of the public’s lack of knowledge of the provisions of the bill as a kind of natural disaster. The public doesn’t understand it because the White House strategy has been poor. We’ve stood by and allowed our opponents to define this bill, while letting the visual coverage be the haggling in the Senate. We need to get back on course, and this poll points the way. But let’s not pretend that somehow “just got here.” This is a communications fiasco of the party’s own making and many disgruntled Democrats after Massachusetts (at least out here) want to know that someone in leadership understands this.


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