Amid all of the turmoil surrounding the law, solid majorities of Americans continue to say they believe it will “make things better” for people who do not have health insurance (63 percent) and the poor (59 percent). Only about one-third thought the law would “make things … worse” for each group. In each case, that’s a slight improvement in the overall judgment since the July poll. Back then, 58 percent thought the law would help the uninsured and 55 percent believed it would benefit the poor.
These results reflect a broad consensus. In the new survey, solid majorities of Democrats, independents, nonwhites, and both college-educated and noncollege whites say the law will help the uninsured; majorities of each of those groups except whites without college degrees also say it will help the poor (and even a 49 percent plurality of those noncollege whites agree). Republicans were more dubious, but even so, 47 percent thought the law would help the uninsured and 42 percent believed it would benefit the poor.
These results are a mixed blessing for the law’s supporters, though, because the poll also finds that most Americans, especially whites, are much more dubious that the law will benefit broader groups in the country, or their own families. That confounds the anticipation of Democratic strategists who have hoped for decades that health care reform could reverse the skepticism among many voters, particularly middle-class whites, that Washington can deliver tangible benefits in their own lives.