Advancing Obama’s Address: A Summary of Health Care Data

Sep 9, 2009 2:18pm

Advancing tonight's presidential address, a summary of the most recent publicly released polling on health care reform follows, including AP/GfK poll results released today. None is radically different from what we’ve seen in the last few weeks, including in our own ABC/Post poll Aug. 17.

-AP has 52 percent disapproving of the president’s handling of health care. That’s about what we had – 50 percent disapproving – in our Aug. 17 poll. (AP has a bit fewer approving, 42 percent vs. our 46 percent. CBS on Aug. 31 had it 40-47 percent approve/disapprove, more undecided.)

-The AP poll has the president’s overall job approval rating at 50 percent, with 49 percent disapproving. As noted previously, this has been inconsistent in polls recently – ranging from 50 to 58 percent since August, disapproval from 35 to 49 percent (a new high in today’s AP/GfK poll) with no clear pattern. The instability likely is related to the reassessment underway as current problems (economy, Afghanistan, deficit, as well as the health care debate) come fully under Obama’s ownership, as we reported last month.

-AP has 77 percent calling health care an extremely or very important issue, about where it’s been, about the same as terrorism and the deficit, lower than the economy (92 percent).

-AP has 49 percent opposed to the health care reform under discussion; similarly CNN had it at 51 percent Aug. 31, we had it at 50 percent Aug. 17. AP has less support for the plan, 34 percent vs. our 45 and CNN’s 48, apparently because AP offers a “neither support nor oppose” option.

-A better way to show intensity of sentiment is to ask it directly; we found significantly greater intensity on the nay side of reform – stronger disapproval, stronger opposition. So did CNN.

- AP has a division between scrapping the plan and starting over (42 percent) vs. continuing to work to pass a plan by year’s end (39 percent). Just 18 percent favor keeping the health care system as it is now, underscoring that compunctions about reform should not be taken as an endorsement of the status quo. (CNN had similar results.)

-AP also has 79 percent calling bipartisan agreement important, 56 percent very important; and 66 percent saying Obama and the Democrats should keep trying for a deal with the Republicans rather than passing a bill without their support.

-CNN’s Aug. 31 poll had people by 55-19 percent thinking the reforms would increase rather than decrease their medical costs and by 38-21 percent saying their family overall would be worse off rather than better off, both about the same as in June. CBS on Aug. 31 had people by 34-19 percent saying reform would worsen their quality of care, essentially identical to what we had Aug. 17.

-CNN had 55 percent support for a public option, CBS had 53 percent, we had 52 percent. What-if pushback knocks this down.

-CNN also had 53 percent saying they think Obama wants “the federal government to eventually take over all aspects of the health care system in this country.”

-CNN had essentially equal numbers (19 and 18 percent) saying controversy at the town hall meetings had made them more or less likely to support Obama’s policies; far more, 62 percent, said it had no effect on their views, reinforcing that the concerns expressed are substantive, not reactive.

-Gallup in a poll completed last week (Sept. 2) had Americans divided 39-37 percent on whether they’d advise their representative in Congress to support or oppose a reform bill, the rest undecided. This is essentially the same as they had in early August, 36-35.

-Gallup also found people who oppose reform more likely to say it’ll be a major factor in their vote for Congress next year, again echoing one of our Aug. 17 results.

Also of interest may be our memo yesterday comparing Obama ’09 with Clinton ’93 (and Truman ’49).

The president speaks at 8.

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