Truth-tellers, liars and equivocators

Donna Edwards and health care reform: Do Americans support repeal?

January 20, 2011 - 11:35 AM
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The Republicans' push to repeal the health care overhaul is doomed, and everyone knows it. Lacking a majority in the Senate or the super-majority required to overturn a presidential veto in the House of Representatives, the repeal vote that passed last night is little more than a publicity stunt and a ploy to satisfy their base.

One of the arguments Republicans make for repeal is that the American people oppose the health care law and want them to do so. According to Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.), that argument doesn’t hold water. On Wednesday's TBD NewsTalk with Bruce DePuyt, Edwards, who represents parts of Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, made the case that most Americans thought health care reform took the county in the right direction.

“It’s true that the majority of Americans either think we should do more with health care or are really satisfied with where we’re going,” said Edwards, who has always been a staunch supporter of the law. "Where the GOP is going right now actually doesn't match where the American public is."

Democrats have long insisted that the legislation would become more popular as people began to realize the benefits of its consumer protections. So, where do Americans really stand on the health care law and its repeal?

The Facts Machine located five polls by national news outlets or well-known polling organizations on health care reform released since the beginning of the year. The polls are from Gallup, the Washington Post/ABC News, the Associated Press, Rasmussen and CNN. Here’s what each found:

Rasmussen: Fifty five percent of likely voters support repeal of the health care law, while 40 percent oppose repeal. However, only 40 percent strongly support repeal, “matching the lowest level found since the health care bill became law.” Caveat: Rasmussen is thought by some to have “exhibited a considerable bias toward Republican candidates.”

Washington Post/ABC News: Like Rasmussen, the Post/ABC poll shows an advantage for opponents: 50 percent of those polled opposed the law, while 45 percent  supported it. But when opponents were asked if they bill should be repealed, only one-third of them supported a full repeal. Thirty five percent wanted a partial repeal and 30 percent wanted a “wait-and-see” approach.

And, most importantly, a quarter of those who opposed the bill “say the legislation is faulty because it did not go far enough, not because it pushed change too far.”

Associated Press/GfK: According to a spokesman for Edwards, this is the poll she was referring to. It found that 40 percent support the law, while 41 percent oppose it. Among all Americans, only 25 percent want to repeal the law entirely and 43 percent want it to do more to change the health care system.

CNN: This poll, like Rasmussen's, is binary. Half of those polled would want to see all the law’s segments repealed, and 42 percent want to see them kept in place.

Gallup: Gallup's poll shows 46 percent want their congressman to support repeal, while 40 percent want to keep it intact.

When given two options: repeal or no repeal, Americans decidedly choose repeal. But in the two polls -- the Post's and the AP's -- where people surveyed are given multiple options, the results show that Edwards is right: more people are either satisfied with the law, or think that doesn't go far enough, than favor total repeal.

According to the AP poll, only a quarter of Americans support total repeal, while 43 percent want it to do more to change the health care system and a little less than a fifth want it to stay the same. That's exactly how Edwards portrayed it.

The Washington Post/ABC shows something similar. While half oppose the law, a full quarter of that group didn't think the legislation went far enough. And only one-third of those who opposed the law wanted a full repeal.

If you give Americans a yes or no option, they want to see health care repealed. But a deeper look at the crosstabs shows opposition to bill softens, and that many people either wish the legislation had been more expansive, or that people like certain segments of the law and hope it is not entirely repealed. Given that, Edwards was Mostly On Point.

Mostly on point
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