WSJ/NBC poll shows ObamaCare fading; Update: Poll data coming out later; Update: New numbers look as bad as the old

Update: The key data in the post below comes from a survey done at the end of July.  Here’s the NBC report from today on the poll coming out this evening:

And according to a brand-new NBC News poll, 47% of Americans — a plurality — oppose the public plan, versus 43% who support it. That’s a shift from last month’s NBC/WSJ poll, when 46% said they backed it and 44% were opposed.

In a follow-up question explaining the benefits and disadvantages associated with a public plan, 45% said they agreed with the description — by supporters — that it would help lower health-care costs and provide coverage for uninsured Americans.

But 48% sided with opponents who say a public option would reduce access to their choice of doctors, and would lower costs by limiting medical treatment options.

Here’s what happened.  When I read the MS-NBC report on the poll, I went to the WSJ front page and found the headline for a poll, but didn’t realize that headline was for a story from three weeks ago.  Thanks to Geoff A for pointing out the difference.  I’ll have the new poll data when it gets released.

My apologies for the confusion.  However, it doesn’t look as though the thrust of the post will be incorrect when the latest poll data gets released today.

Update II: Geoff A forwarded me the PDF from the new survey … and it’s at least as bad as the end of July.  Same survey type (adults), the partisan sample is even more skewed (33% Democrat/20% Republican without leaners, 41%/29% with leaners), and still bad news for Obama.  Some lowlights:

  • Overall approval drops from 53% to 51% — and that’s with a four-point boost to the Democratic advantage in the sample of adults, as opposed to registered or likely voters
  • Health care approval gap spreads to -6, with 47% disapproving and 41% approving
  • Support for a complete overhaul of the health-care system dropped from 33% in April to 21% in August.  Support for a “minor reform” jumped 10 points to 31% in the same time period.
  • 40% of respondents say that Obama’s plan will make their health care worse, as opposed to 24% who say it will improve it.  In April, those numbers were 24% and 22%.  He’s lost 16 points on that question.
  • The public option still trails, 47%-43%.
  • What will ObamaCare bring?  55% believe it will allow access to illegal immigrants, 54% believe it will lead to a full gov’t takeover of the health-care system, and 50% believe that tax money will pay for abortions.  On the plus side, 50% thought death panels were unlikely to happen, although 45% weren’t as sanguine.

With a sample like that, Obama should have gained ground.  Instead, he’s losing ground.  It’s not brain surgery to figure out why.

Original post follows:


The longer Americans look at ObamaCare, the less they like it.  A new poll by NBC and the Wall Street Journal of adults, rather than likely or registered voters, confirms that Barack Obama has lost ground on his ambitious overhaul of the US health-care industry.  Two months ago, a WSJ/NBC poll showed Americans split on ObamaCare.  Now a plurality opposes it, and only 15% of those currently with insurance think it would improve their care:

In mid-June, respondents were evenly divided when asked whether they thought Mr. Obama’s health plan was a good or bad idea. In the new poll, conducted July 24-27, 42% called it a bad idea while 36% said it was a good idea.

Among those with private insurance, the proportion calling the plan a bad idea rose to 47% from 37%.

Declining popularity of the health-care overhaul reflects rising anxiety over the federal budget deficit and congressional debate over the most contentious aspects of the legislation, including how to pay for it. The poll also shows concern over the role of government in determining personal medical decisions. …

In the Journal poll, only two in 10 people said the quality of their own care would improve under the Obama plan; just 15% of those with private insurance thought it would. Twice as many overall, and three times as many with private coverage, predicted their own care would get worse.

Again, sampling adults rather than registered voters or likely voters would tend to skew polls more to the left — which makes this result even more compelling.  Their sample includes 30% Democrats and 22% Republicans, without leaners; with leaners, it’s 42% Democrats and 33% Republicans, which seems like too wide a split for any real predictive value.

Given that, it’s not surprising that Obama’s job-approval number in this poll is still at a majority, but at 53%, it’s getting closer to crossing the line.  Three months ago, that number was 61%.  He’s now below the majority line for handling the economy, with a 49% plurality of approval.  On health care, however, he’s below water, with a 46% plurality disapproving of his performance, while only getting 41% approval.

And on individual mandates, the news looks especially bad for Obama.  Only 34% approve of requiring Americans to carry health insurance, while 60% oppose the individual mandate.  The business mandate for offering coverage has slipped in support from 55% a month ago to 49% now.  These have been key points of Obama’s health-care reform, and people have begun rejecting government mandates — which would eliminate the entire notion of saving costs on services to the uninsured, a critical component of Obama’s argument for reform.

In other words, Obama and his allies are losing ground.  Why?  People have had the opportunity to ask questions — and find out that the people who pushed this legislation have no clear idea of what’s in it.  The natural suspicion of common-sense people when seeing complicated matters being handled in a rushed fashion piqued their interest, and the more they discover, the less they like.

Update: Gallup’s poll now shows Obama at his lowest approval rating — a still not-bad 52% — and at his highest disapproval, 42%.