Independent Voter Heartburn: Health Care Reform

By Bill McInturff and Nicole McCleskey, Partners, Public Opinion Strategies

Comparing where we were during the first six months of 2009 to today offers a unique perspective on just how far the Obama Administration has fallen.  During the first six months of 2009, President Obama held a 56% approve/35% disapprove rating.  In contrast, Obama’s job approval rating today among Independent voters has sunk to 44% approve/50% disapprove.

One sure reason for the descent is the President’s misguided effort to overhaul health care.  Absolutely, health care requires some amount of reform … but it is the nature and extent of that reform that is causing Independent voters’ heartburn.

In our most current survey conducted in partnership with Newt Gingrich and the Center for Health Transformation, we see just how far Independents are from the President’s agenda to overhaul the system:

▸    Just 29% of Independent voters agree that our health care system is in need of a “complete overhaul.”

▸    Only 19% of Independents believe the role of the federal government should be to provide universal coverage to all Americans.  Independents much prefer to see government in the role of “assisting those who cannot afford coverage” (37%), and still 39% of Independents believe the federal government has no responsibility at all when it comes to providing health care.

Independents have stiffened their resistance to the Obama/Democratic health care reform plan.  Today, nearly six out of ten Independent (59%) oppose the health care plan being developed by President Obama and Democrats in Congress.  Importantly, 41% of Independents say they are “strongly opposed” to the plan.

By a considerable margin, Independent voters side with Republicans who say it is time to wipe the health care reform slate clean and focus on areas where there is agreement on health care:

Who do you agree with more…

34%    President Obama and Democrats who support comprehensive health care reform and want to pass a version of the House and Senate bills.

57%     Republicans in Congress who want to start the health care reform process over and focus on areas of agreement and smaller pieces of legislation.

Independents are not equivocating on health care.  They have formed very clear opinions on health care reform that are very likely to have electoral consequence in 2010.

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