Kaiser Health Tracking Poll -- August 2010

The August Health Tracking Poll finds that support for health reform fell over the course of August, dipping from a 50 percent favorability rating in July to 43 percent, while 45 percent of the public reported unfavorable views. The dip in favorability returned public opinion on the new law to the even split last seen in May before a modest uptick in support in June and July.

Americans’ views of how reform will affect them personally have changed little over the summer, with 29 percent saying in August that they and their family will be better off under the law, 30 percent saying they expect to be worse off and 36 percent saying it won’t make much difference. But the gap between those who think the new law will make the country better off and those who think it will make it worse off narrowed over the last month, with 39 percent saying the law will benefit the nation and 37 percent expressing the opposite view.

Partisan views of heath reform have remained relatively fixed: Most Democrats continue to support the law (68%), most Republicans continue to oppose it (77%), and independents are more closely divided (41% in favor and 48% opposed). And the likely reported impact of health reform on the congressional elections has changed little over recent months. The law still splits registered voters into three roughly equally sized groups: A third (34%) say they are more likely to oppose a candidate who backed the law; about a third (31%) are more likely to support that candidate; and a third (33%) say it won’t impact their vote.

Asked what would make the biggest difference in their vote for Congress, the “direction of the nation as a whole” topped the list, named by 34 percent, twice as many as the proportion who chose “specific national issues”. Roughly a quarter said the “candidate’s character and experience” would be the driving factors, and 19 percent named local or state issues. Health care is competing with a host of other pressing topics for attention.

While most of the early deliverables in the law, as well as the coverage expansions coming later, remain highly popular, the individual mandate, which is currently the focus of debate and lawsuits by states against the federal government, presents a more complex picture.

Findings (.pdf)

Chartpack (.pdf)

Toplines (.pdf)

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