Poll: Public Support for Reform Proposals Similar to Backing for ’94 Effort
Public opposition to President Obama's health reform efforts is similar to public dissent in 1994, when President Clinton attempted health reform, according to a new poll released Thursday by the conservative polling firm Public Opinion Strategies, Roll Call reports (Dennis, Roll Call, 8/27).
The poll surveyed 800 registered voters by telephone from Aug. 11-13 and found that 37% of voters oppose Obama's efforts and 25% support them.
In a June 1994 survey also conducted by Public Opinion Strategies, 35% of voters said they opposed Clinton's reform plan, and 23% said they supported it.
The new poll had a margin of sampling error of 3.5 percentage points.
Respondents at both times were largely undecided in their opinions about the reform plans.
In 1994, 42% of those polled said they had no opinion about the Clinton plan, while 37% of respondents in the recent poll said they have no opinion about Obama's proposals.
Politico notes that the recent poll asked voters about "Obama's plan, but in reality, there are several versions" of reform legislation being considered in Congress (Falcone, Politico, 8/27).
Bill McInturff, co-founder of the polling firm, pointed to insistence on a government-managed public insurance plan as the main reason for the limited voter support for Democratic reform plans.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday at an event organized by the Christian Science Monitor, McInturff said that Democrats "should have months ago jettisoned the public option" (Wayne, CQ Today, 8/27).
McInturff said Democrats "have hit a tripwire where the people who have good private coverage don't see a benefit to them," adding, "You cannot expand coverage if people believe they will lose their coverage as an option or their quality of care will be hurt. And fundamentally that has been what has happened so far in this debate."
McInturff said Obama could still achieve his goal for passing health reform legislation this year, but he would have to drop the public plan and convince many of his Democratic allies to support him (Cook, "The Vote Blog," Christian Science Monitor, 8/27).
McInturff, who was hired as a pollster for Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) presidential campaign in 2008, said the opposition to Obama's proposals has been partly fueled by the idea that "government has gotten way too big and is going way too far" (Politico, 8/27).
Suggesting that public support has been low for the public plan for some time, he said, "The president has spent weeks trying to move these numbers, and they've gotten worse," adding, "There's no way they're going to pass a public option" (Roll Call, 8/27).
McInturff said he believes Democrats will not simply drop the option, but will engineer a situation that demonstrates that they tried to include the public option but cut it to make a deal so that health reform legislation could pass (CQ Today, 8/27).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.