As shown in this Pollster.com graphic, public support for President Obama and the Democrats’ health care reform plans has consistently been around 45% (plus or minus a few percent) for several months, whereas opposition has consistently approached 50% for the past few months.
That nearly all recent polls show opposition exceeding support — albeit often by small margins — may lend some credence to Republican Senate floor leader Mitch McConnell’s claim over the weekend that the country does not want the pending legislation and that Democratic efforts to pass it are at their own peril.
In a technical sense, McConnell may be right. However, the implication that conservative opposition to the Democrats’ bills is carrying the day does not appear to be correct.
A new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll (in the field November 13-15) obtained a typical finding, namely that 46% favored the U.S. House’s recently passed “bill that would make major changes in the country’s health care system,” whereas 49% expressed opposition. However, CNN asked this follow-up question to respondents in the opposition camp: “Do you oppose that bill because you think its approach toward health care is too liberal, or because you think its approach toward health care is not liberal enough?”
Responses broke down as follows: 34% opposed the bill because they considered it too liberal; 10% opposed it because they felt it was not liberal enough; 3% opposed it for other reasons; and the remaining couple of percent apparently did not endorse a reason. One can thus conclude (within the usual confines of the margin of error) that 56% of Americans favor either the House-passed version of health care reform or something further to the left. (Thanks to Pollster.com discussant “Wong” for pointing out this finding.)
I just did some Google searching on the CNN/ORC question wording for the item that asked opponents why they didn’t favor the bill, and I could not find any previous instances of this question being asked. Without such a question, we would not know whether opposition to the Democrats’ health call bills was monolithic or diversified. Now, we have a pretty good idea.