In Health Care Debate, Public Attitudes Remain Unchanged

Support for the plan peaks at 74 percent of Democrats, 71 percent of liberals and 70 percent of people who favor a larger government that provides more services. Opposition stands at 85, 74 and 67 percent, respectively, among Republicans, conservatives and people who favor a smaller, less active government. Nothing in the debate has changed these fundamentals.

Nonetheless, attitudes on reform do reflect a missed opportunity for President Obama. When he raised it as a top priority in April – at his peak of popularity overall – 57 percent of Americans approved of his handling of health care. That quickly subsided as details were advanced and the debate was engaged – 53 percent approval in June, 49 percent in July, 46 percent in August.

Today, it's 44 percent, matching its low last month, with 52 percent disapproving – numbers almost precisely matching views on the plan itself. And again intensity is against him: Many more strongly disapprove than strongly approve of the president's work on health care reform. 43 percent vs. 24 percent.

METHODOLOGY – This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by telephone Jan. 12-15, 2010, among a random national sample of 1,083 adults, including landline and cell phone-only respondents, with an oversample of African-Americans (weighted to their correct share of the population) for a total of 153 black respondents. Results for the full sample have a 3.5-point error margin. Click here for a detailed description of sampling error. Sampling, data collection and tabulation by TNS of Horsham, Pa.

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