JONATHAN CHAIT FEBRUARY 18, 2010
PPP has a new poll that casts some interesting light on the health care debate. By a margin of 50%-39%, the public opposes President Obama's health care reform plan. But the breakdown is telling. Moderates support Obama's plan by a 48-38 margin. Conservatives, unsurprisingly, oppose it by 81-12, but liberals only support it by 73-19. That high percentage of liberal opposition takes a big chunk out of the support base.
Likewise, voters who say they definitely won't vote for a Democrat for Congress oppose health care reform by a staggering 94-1 margin. Those who are uncertain are basically split, 42-44. Those who definitely plan to vote Democratic support the bill by only a 79-7 margin (with 13% undecided) -- a much lower margin than the opposition among committed Republicans.
This suggests two things about the politics of health care reform. First, there's room to push up support merely by bringing base voters (who may be disappointed with the lack of progress or the absence of a public option) on board. Second, Voters in the middle are not that opposed -- it's overwhelming support by the GOP base that's driving opposition.