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Morning Jay: Where is the Public on Obamacare?

6:00 AM, Mar 30, 2011 • By JAY COST
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On the Fox New Sunday panel last weekend, there was an interesting discussion about Obamacare, a year after the controversial bill became law. Nina Easton said:

[T]hings haven't changed much in 12 months. We have a -- despite by, the way, ramped-up efforts by the White House which is going to ramp up again to explain the benefits of health care reform to the nation, we have a divided country.

Half the country hates it, thinks it's government overreach, possibly socialistic. We have got another half, though, which supports it or thinks it's not liberal enough. So none of that has moved.

Bill Kristol argued:

I think March 21, 2010 [the day the bill was passed], will be the high watermark, historically, of big government liberalism and of the entitlement state. This is sort of the overreach that shows how insane the modern entitlement state has become. And they expected their support to build, because in previous entitlements, when they got passed, people liked them once they were passed.

That has not happened in this case. The polls haven't changed. They're not changing. And I think it's going to be a burden for the president and his re-election effort. And as I said, I think this will be repealed.

Meanwhile, Juan Williams asserted:

I think so much has changed. You look at the polls, the polls now indicate -- I think it was Gallup now has it 46-40, the American people support this health care reform effort.

So, that's three different takes on Obamacare: no change and a split between supporters and opponents; no change, significant opposition; change toward the supporters.

What to make of all this?

The most recent poll from Gallup showed a split of 46-44: 46 percent said passing the bill was a "good thing," while 44 percent said it was a "bad thing." These are about the best numbers you can find for Obamacare, at this point. Indeed, the other numbers from Gallup are not that good. Just 39 percent said they thought it would improve health care in the U.S. and just 25 percent thought their own care would improve.

There have been other polls that have found mixed news for Obamacare. For instance, the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll in January found that 39 percent thought that passing the bill was a "good idea," and 39 percent thought that passing it was a "bad idea." Earlier this month, Bloomberg found that 41 percent thought it should be repealed, 42 percent thought we should wait to see how it works, and 12 percent thought it should be left alone. Meanwhile, the Kaiser poll found that 30 percent want to "expand" the bill, 21 percent want to keep as is, and 39 percent want to repeal it.

Against this data, we can look at the results from RealClearPolitics, which averages polls that ask the straightforward question whether respondents favor or oppose repeal. The numbers on this front are not good at all for those in support of Obama's health care overhaul.

These numbers are generally, but not uniformly, terrible for Obamacare. What is especially helpful about this is that there is a relatively consistent question asked across the polls -- and unlike the NBC/WSJ question, for instance, it is direct and to the point on the political issue.

Another direct question is whether or not respondents approve of President Obama's job performance on the health care issue. And here, the numbers are quite negative: see CNN (41-58), Bloomberg (44-50), Quinnipiac (40-56), and Gallup (40-56).

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