March 31, 2010

Public still against healthcare bill

By: AFF Editors

Last week, all eyes were on Gallup after it reported a startling bounce in popularity for the healthcare bill after it was passed by House Democrats. On the same day that I posted about the Gallup survey with a hint of skepticism, Michael taunted Republicans, asking “I wonder what they’ll say about this new poll.” Meanwhile, Elrod described the Gallup report as “the first indications…total opposition to the Democratic health care reform bill will be a Republican Waterloo.” Elsewhere, Matt Yglesias saw the poll as an initial vindication of his belief that the popularity of healthcare would increase significantly if the Democrats “just put their heads down and charged ahead.”

So, what do the latest polls say about Michael, Matt and Elrod’s confidence? At the very, very least, the message is “Hold on just a second.” Whereas the first Gallup poll showed a 49-40 margin in favor of the bill’s passage, Gallup’s next poll showed the public disapproving of the bill by a margin of 50-47 (or -3). A new survey from ABC and the Washington Post put the margin at 50-46 (-4), with CBS reporting the same differential, 46-42 (-4), while Quinnipiac registered the strongest disapproval, at 49-40 (-9).

But there’s definitely some good news for the Democrats, regardless of any premature celebration about the first Gallup poll. Before the vote, CBS reported the bill’s popularity at -11, while Quinnipiac pegged it at -18. The president’s approval rating on healthcare also shot up, from -10 in the previous poll from ABC and the Post to just -1 this week. And of course, the public continues to trust Democrats more than Republicans on healthcare.

So, if no one had gotten all excited about the first Gallup poll, my headline for this post would’ve been “public disapproval of healthcare dissipating”. But who has changed their mind? As Matt Y. has argued, a significant portion of pre-passage opposition to the bill seemed to be driven by a liberal thirst for an even more aggressive plan. Is the bump we’re seeing now just a result of liberal critics coming back home to celebrate the Democrats’ victory?

Finally, a word about the perennial outlier in the approval ratings, Rasmussen. It still shows the bill’s popularity at -13, the same as before it passed. As always, Rasmussen polls sample the opinion of those considered likely voters, while Rasmussen’s competitors look at either registered voters or all adults.