Where’s the Anger on Health Care Reform?

The public isn’t rising up in opposition to the new health care law as conservatives expected, writes Ruy Teixeira.

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Conservatives have been predicting for months that the health care reform bill passed in March would over time generate massive public opposition. So where is it?

Consider results of the most recent Kaiser Health Tracking Poll, the most thorough ongoing assessment of public opinion on the bill. The poll asked respondents whether they had a generally favorable or unfavorable opinion about the law. It elicited a 49 percent favorable to 40 percent unfavorable verdict.

Doesn’t sound like massive opposition to me. The poll also asked a follow-up question of those with an unfavorable view to see if they wanted to give the bill a chance to work or have it repealed as soon as possible.

The results of the original question and the follow-up question are combined in the chart below. The chart shows that just over a quarter of the public has both an unfavorable view of the bill and wants to see it repealed as soon as possible. This looks even less like massive opposition.

Finally, what about all that anger conservatives and some commentators have been expecting? Certainly some angry people are out there—32 percent of the public does say that “angry” describes their feelings about the health reform law. But they are actually fewer in number than those that say they are pleased about the law.

None of this is to say everyone loves the new law or even understands it. But the idea that the public is rising up in angry opposition to the law is clearly wrong.

Ruy Teixeira is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. To learn more about his public opinion analysis go to the Media and Progressive Values page and the Progressive Studies program page of our website.

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Ruy Teixeira

Former Senior Fellow

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