The Washington Post

The people who want health law expanded don’t exist

CNN has a new poll out today on health reform — exactly one year after President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law — that’s getting a lot of attention. Here’s CNN’s headline:

CNN Poll: Time doesn’t change views on health care law

And it’s true that the poll finds that Americans oppose the law, 59-37 — basically unchanged since last March. But if you dig into the internals of the poll, you find that roughly a quarter of those who oppose the law (13 percent) do so because it’s “not liberal enough.”

If you recalibrate the numbers to take this into account, you find that 50 percent support the law or want a more liberal version of health reform, versus only 43 percent who oppose it because it’s “too liberal.” As Dave Weigel summarizes:

Poll: One Year On, Most Favor Health Care Law or Wish It Was More Liberal

What interests me here is that despite this, Republicans are heavily promoting this poll today. For instance, John Boehner just Tweeted:

CNN survey: 59 percent of Americans oppose job-crushing ObamaCare, “unchanged” from 1 yr ago

A top aide to Mitch McConnell is also pushing the poll. And they’re right: Opinion does remain unchanged on health reform. Dems have failed to sell the bill to the public. Predictions that public opinion would turn around on the law have not come to pass. No one is disputing those points.

And yet, even this CNN poll being pushed by Republicans shows that the picture is more complex than the toplines allow: The number who support the bill or think it wasn’t ambitious enough is larger than the number who oppose it because it’s too liberal. It’s hard to see how that translates into massive support for repealing it. But Republicans can count on the fact that hardly anyone will look past those toplines. A solid majority opposes the bill. End of discussion.

Greg Sargent writes The Plum Line blog, a reported opinion blog with a liberal slant -- what you might call “opinionated reporting” from the left.


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