Jonathan Cohn

Health Care's Silent Majority

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Polling on health care reform remains as reliable as ever, which means that you shouldn't consider it particularly reliable. Voters have mixed feelings and few actually understand what it's in the law, which means answers depend a lot on how the survey firms word their questions.

But the polls do provide some insights. And they've consistently undermined the claim that  Americans are clamoring to scrap the Affordable Care Act because it tries to do too much.

The latest evidence comes from the new Associated Press-GfK poll, which Greg Sargent flagged on Friday. In the survey, 32 percent of registered voters responding said they wanted to repeal the law completely while another 9 percent said they wanted to revise the law so it did less. But 39 percent said they wanted to revise the law so it did more and 18 percent said they wanted to leave it as is. Opinion tips more towards scaling the law back if you consider only likely voters, but even then only 37 percent want repeal and less than 50 percent want to scale the law back at all.

Put it together with polling that shows Americans overwhelmingly favor the individual elements of health care reform--like guarantees of coverage for people with pre-existing conditions--and it's hard to make a credible argument that most Americans want repeal. As Steve Benen, who also noticed these new results, says

I wonder what the discourse would be like if equal attention were paid to those who want even more ambitious health care reforms as compared to those who think the Affordable Care Act some sort of secret communist plot.

Yeah, I wonder that, too.

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