Health Care, the President and the Election

October 14, 2010, 5:22 PM GMT+0

Republicans have promised to try and repeal the health care bill, should they gain control of Congress in the fall elections. There is no clear majority for that action, but 42% of Americans favor repeal; just 36% do not.

Even those who are the target of the reforms just implemented are divided on whether the bill should be repealed.

While the economy remains the country’s biggest problem (42% cite it as most important), health care is number two, mentioned by 14% of Americans. And while the flagging economy may dominate the fall elections, health care is an issue many voters say will matter to them. Two out of three registered voters say the issue will be very important in their vote this fall – and more than one in ten say it will be the most important factor in what they do. Republicans are more likely than Democrats to describe the issue as very important to their vote.

That suggests that despite the general popularity – in principle – of the reforms that have been implemented, health care reform won’t help Democrats this fall. In this week’s Economist/YouGov poll, registered voters choose the Republicans when it comes to selecting a candidate in their district’s elections for the U.S. House of Representatives. 47% favor or lean towards the Republicans, 42% the Democrats. This is one of the clearest leads for Republicans in this poll. And, as in many previous Economist/YouGov Polls, Republicans gain among likely voters. 50% of them favor Republicans, 43% Democrats.

The issue does not help President Obama. Asked to evaluate his handling of health care, only 39% approve, one of his lowest marks on the issue (the lowest ever was 37% last January). A majority, 55%, disapprove. Assessment of the President’s handling of health care started slipping last year, and has continued a decline.

And as for his overall popularity, only 41% this week approve of the way President Obama is handling his job as President, matching his all-time low. 52% disapprove.

One problem for the President: he is more likely to be viewed as “out of touch” with most Americans than as “in touch” with them. 23% say they would use the phrase “in touch” to describe the President, but 38% would not.

Image source: flickr (Progress Ohio)

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