The Impact of the Obama Health Plan on the 2010 Elections
The word “Obamacare” has entered the American political lexicon as almost nine out of ten voters (89%) can rate the term on a positive/negative scale. Voters have little difficulty answering an open-ended question about their reaction to the term Obamacare.
Voters have a negative reaction to the term Obamacare (29% positive, 47% negative, with 13% having a neutral opinion). As in all the data on this topic, what is striking is the intensity with only 15% having a “very positive” opinion compared to 37% with a “very negative” opinion of Obamacare.
A majority of voters (51%) say an “acceptable” outcome of this election would be a repeal of President Obama’s health care reform plan.
Opinions are more closely divided though about the plan itself, with 45% supporting and 50% of voters opposing “the changes to the health care system that have been enacted by Congress and the Obama Administration.”
Other broad and consistent trends emerge as Independents (34% support, 60% oppose), seniors (38% support, 55% oppose) and voters in the 92 most competitive House districts (38% support, 55% oppose) are all more likely to oppose the president’s health care reform plan.
Health care reform is very much a key part of the debate this election season as more than four out of ten voters (42%) say they have seen a Congressional candidate advertising on the topic of “the changes to the health care system that have been enacted by Congress and the Obama Administration.” Not surprisingly, recall is higher (50%) in the target House seats.
Importantly, recall of campaign advertising about the president’s health care reform plan is slightly higher than the recall of advertising about health care reform in 1994 or the HMO reform debates of 1998/2000 during October of these election cycles.
The advertising could not be clearer to those respondents who recall seeing it: 61% say the ad was in opposition to the Obama plan, 13% in support, with another 23% of voters saying they recall advertising on both sides of the issue.
A plurality of voters tell us they want their vote to be a message to oppose the president’s plan (38% oppose) while 27% say they want their vote to send a message to support the plan. Again, Independents, seniors, and voters in the target House districts are all more likely to say they want to send a message to oppose the plan.
Intensity matters in politics … and it matters a lot. A differently worded question which asks people if the Obama plan is a good idea, bad idea or “if you do not have an opinion either way, please just say so” is revealing. It tells us 41% of voters say the president’s plan is a “very bad” idea versus only 25% who say it is a “very good” idea. Less than half of Democrat voters (47%) say it is a “very good” idea, while three-quarters of Republicans (76%) say it is a “very bad” idea. By literally 24 to 34 point margins, Independents, seniors, voters in target House seats, and those voters undecided about which party should control the House all are more likely to say the plan is a “very bad” idea.