Five takeaways from the Kaiser Tracking Poll

Want to know how seniors feel about President Obama's health policies? Have a question about whether Obamacare will ever get more popular? You, Wonkblog reader, are in luck: the Kaiser Family Foundation is out with its monthly health care tracking poll. It's full of data on how voters are feeling about health care issues heading into November. Here are the five key takeaways:

1. Medicare is the key health care issue for the election - not the Affordable Care Act. Seventy-three percent of those Kaiser surveyed said Medicare would be "extremely" or "very" important issue in their vote. The Affordable Care Act, that number stands at 59 percent.

All this polling, it's worth noting, happened before Romney's selection of Paul Ryan as his vice-presidential pick launched us into a week of heated Medicare debate. It's actually been true for months now: When Kaiser asked the same question back in February, the answers looked nearly identical.

2. When it comes to the health care law, seniors are - just barely - on Obama's sign.

A plurality of those over 65 thought Obama was more likely to make the right decisions on the health law's future than his opponent. That's a bit surprising, given that they tend to have less favorable ratings of the Affordable Care Act than other demographics. This was, however, lower than other demographics: those under 65 tended to have slightly more trust in the president's direction.

This actually aligns pretty nicely with other polling we have on seniors and the health care law. They tend to be just a bit more skeptical of the health law, but not by much. Thirty-seven percent of seniors had a favorable opinion of the law in a July poll from Kaiser, compared to 39 percent of younger voters.

Forty-nine percent of seniors surveyed by Kaiser in July had an unfavorable opinion of the law, compared to 43 percent of younger Americans.

3. That could have something to do with this graph: Most voters have a better sense of where Obama is headed on health care. One of the biggest gaps that shows up in all of Kaiser's polling is on this question, about whether voters have a good sense of what policies each candidate is proposing.

3. People are learning more about the parts of the Affordable Care Act that have gotten a lot of attention. Kaiser polls regularly ask about the favorability of various provisions in the health care law - and whether people know they're actually in the law. Reliably, they find a gap:

That gap appears, however, to be shrinking on certain provisions. It's especially dramatic when you look at the percent who know about the health care law eliminating cost-sharing for preventive health services. The number has spiked in the past year:

4. The flip side: People are forgetting about the parts of the law that haven't started yet. Eliminating co-pays for preventive care is pretty small potatoes compared to the law's insurance expansion. That's pretty much the whole thrust of the law. It does not start until 2014 though, and some people seem to be forgetting that's what will happen:

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