Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Gallup Poll Shows That Plurality Supports Healthcare Reform

According to a Gallup poll conducted the day after healthcare reform legislation passed, 49% of the public supports the legislation, while 40% does not. This is up from a March 9 poll, when 48% of respondents opposed the reform measure, but 45% did not.

It is unclear whether this represents a true bounce or a momentary blip. But a few factors suggest that the level of public opposition could soften over time. First, at the start of the reform debates, the public overwhelmingly favored healthcare reform. After months of protests and distortion by opponents and shoddy management by the White House, public opinion shifted against the proposal. That public opinion could now return to its former state is not surprising.

Also, public opinion is highly malleable as a general principle.  Once the media and politicians begin to shift attention to other issues, the emotion surrounding healthcare reform will likely subside. This will probably lead to a reduction in opposition to the measure.

Furthermore, several polls have reported that respondents oppose healthcare reform -- until they learn of the substance of the measure. If the Democrats and the media educate the public about the content of the reform legislation, it is possible that voter opinion will modulate toward the positive side.

Political affiliation affected voter response. Democrats overwhelmingly endorsed the reform measure, while Republicans overwhelmingly opposed it. Moderates were virtually split down the middle.

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