POLL: Opposition to Health Care Reform Is on the Rise

REFORM GROUPS – The 45-50 percent division in overall support vs. opposition to reform, reported above, is not statistically significant at the customary 95 percent confidence level. But it's 88 percent probable that more people oppose than support the reform package as this question asked it.

Differences among groups are telling. Beyond the partisan divisions reported above, support for reform is considerably higher among uninsured Americans (57 percent) than among the 85 percent who do have insurance (43 percent support reform). Reform's supported by 58 percent of adults under age 30, but 44 percent of 30- to 64-year-olds and just 34 percent of seniors, apparently concerned about its potential impact on Medicare. And support's 8 points higher among women (who are more apt to be Democrats) than it is among men.

Changes among groups in views on a public option also are informative. Opposition has increased by 17 points among Republicans, from 59 percent in June to 76 percent now; but it's also risen by 15 points among independents, from 32 percent then to 47 percent now. (It's essentially unchanged among Democrats). Opposition has increased by 16 points among conservatives, to 67 percent, but also by 11 points among liberals and by 9 points among moderates, albeit to much lower levels, 22 and 38 percent, respectively.

Proponents of a public option can argue that it still has more support than opposition, at 52 percent vs. 46 percent. Nonetheless that 6-point gap has narrowed substantially from a 29-point advantage in favor of a public option in June.

ANGER – Another result shows rough balance on an emotional scale; 15 percent of Americans are "enthusiastic" about reform, but 18 percent are "angry" about it. Some of that anger has boiled over at so-called town hall meetings held by Congress members in recent weeks; given what they've heard, 51 percent of Americans think such protests have been appropriate overall, while 45 percent call them inappropriate.

Views on reform make the difference: Health reform opponents overwhelmingly see the protests as appropriate (71 percent say so); supporters, as inappropriate (64 percent). Similarly, among people who are angry about reform, 85 percent call the town half protests appropriate; among those who are enthusiastic about reform, just 31 percent agree.

Health Care and the Congressional Election

VOTE IMPACT – Measurements of potential impacts on voting are somewhat speculative; few voters are propelled by a single issue, and congressional elections are far distant. Nonetheless, by 32 percent to 23 percent, more Americans say they'd be inclined to vote against rather than for a congressional supporter of health care reform.

Narrowing down to those who say it'd make a strong difference, the vote effect is negative by a 12-point margin: Twenty-six percent say they'd be much more apt to oppose such a candidate, compared with 14 percent much more apt to support one. It's not predictive, but it hardly makes reform a political slam-dunk.

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