Thursday, April 1, 2010

Obamacare is getting it from both sides now

So 65 percent of Americans say that Obamacare expands government too much, according to the latest USA Today/Gallup poll. And 64 percent say that Obamacare costs too much. That's good news for Republicans, many of whom have staked out an outright "repeal" position.

But as a look at the graphic above shows, the picture is a bit more complicated than that. 58 percent of Americans say that the bill does not do enough to curb costs, while 52 percent say that it should have included a public option, and 51 percent say that it doesn't do enough to regulate the insurance companies.

So the picture we see is of a public that is not averse to government activism, but doesn't trust Barack Obama & Co. to administer the program. And so now 50 percent of Americans disapprove of the bill and disapprove of Obama. In the words of USA Today reporter Susan Page:

Half call passage of the bill "a bad thing" and 47% "a good thing." That differs from a one-day USA TODAY poll taken March 22 — a day after the House approved the legislation — in which a 49%-40% plurality called the bill "a good thing."

"Any one-day poll in the immediate aftermath of a major event is likely to be subject not only to sampling error but also to very short-term effects," says political scientist Charles Franklin of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. At the time, "the news cycle was dominated by the positive side of the story, and only a little bit by the Republicans' rebuttal to that."

There was a strong reaction against the tactics Democratic leaders used to pass the bill. A 53% majority call Democratic methods "an abuse of power;" 40% say they are appropriate.

And when asked about incidents of vandalism and threats that followed the bill's passage, Americans are more inclined to blame Democratic political tactics than critics' harsh rhetoric. Forty-nine percent say Democratic tactics are "a major reason" for the incidents, while 46% blame criticism by conservative commentators and 43% the criticism of Republican leaders.

Those last findings are particularly interesting--it seems that people blame the Democrats for divisive tactics, not Republicans.

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