As Americans wait for Congress to act on health care, a Fox News poll released Thursday finds 55 percent oppose the reforms being considered, while 35 percent favor them.
In addition, just over half of voters think House Democrats are “changing the rules” to get their bill passed.
About a third of voters (31 percent) think House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats are “playing by the rules” to get health care through, while 53 percent think they are “changing the rules.” Looking at the results by political party, 53 percent of Democrats think their party is playing by the rules, about one in four think they are changing the rules (27 percent) and the rest are unsure (19 percent). Varying majorities of Republicans (78 percent) and independents (57 percent) think House Democrats are changing the rules to pass the bill.
The level of public support for the health care overhaul has remained fairly steady since last July -- 35 percent favor it now and 36 percent favored it last summer. The number opposed -- 55 percent -- is up from 51 percent in January, and from 47 percent last July. Opposition hit a high of 57 percent in December.
Among partisans, the president’s party faithful are alone in supporting the proposed reforms. Sixty-six percent of Democrats favor them, while 53 percent of independents and 88 percent of Republicans oppose them.
When the option of starting over from scratch is included, that’s what a plurality of voters want: 46 percent would toss out the current bill and start over, while 30 percent would stick with what is now on the table. One in five (19 percent) would do nothing on health care now.
On several features, proponents of the reforms have failed to convince voters of the benefits. By two-to-one people think the quality of their family’s health care would be worse, rather than better, if the bill passed. In addition, majorities think the reforms would cost them money (66 percent), and increase their taxes (75 percent).
As the main reason for opposition to the current plan, quality issues lead the way (30 percent), followed by cost (22 percent) and an over-ambitious reach (19 percent).
The number one priority for Americans is the economy, and President Obama says reforming health care will improve it. Yet the poll finds around 6 in 10 voters don’t believe that health care reform would create jobs (56 percent) or boost the nation’s economy (64 percent).
If the bill passes -- or fails -- what should happen next?
If it passes, nearly half (45 percent) would like lawmakers repeal it, 29 percent would expand it, and 18 percent say lawmakers should leave it as is.
If the bill fails, most voters want to either start over from scratch (42 percent) or drop it (36 percent). One in five voters would want Congress to keep trying to pass the current plan (19 percent).
The national telephone poll was conducted for Fox News by Opinion Dynamics Corp. among 900 registered voters from March 16 to March 17. For the total sample, the poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
How do voters view President Obama’s continued efforts to get health care reform passed?
Views are sharply divided -- nearly half think he is showing leadership (47 percent) and almost as many think he is showing stubbornness (45 percent).
Almost half (48 percent) think the president is only pushing the Democratic agenda and not trying to compromise, while over half (55 percent) think Republicans are only trying to block the president’s agenda rather than looking for middle ground.
Forty-three percent think Obama is truly trying to find middle ground with Republicans, while 31 percent think Republicans are looking for a compromise.
The president’s overall job rating stands at 46 percent approval and 48 percent disapproval, little changed from late February when 47 percent approved and 45 percent disapproved.
This is only the second time more voters have disapproved than approved of the president’s performance. The first was early last month (46 percent approved and 47 percent disapproved).
The president’s ratings among the party faithful are strong. Fully 80 percent of Democrats approve of the job he’s doing today -- down 5 points from when he took office.
It’s a different story among independent voters, who were critical to President Obama’s election. Since taking office his approval has dropped 17 points among this group -- from 64 percent in January 2009 to 47 percent now.
Approval of the president far outdistances that of Congress, which has an 18 percent approval rating, up from 14 percent in late February. Its disapproval rating stands at 76 percent. Even though Democrats control Congress, 63 percent of Democrats disapprove of the job lawmakers are doing.
Ratings of Congress are in line with the portion of voters who think Congress does what the American people want (17 percent), as opposed to whatever it wants (79 percent)
Likewise, 75 percent of voters feel their views are not represented by the federal government right now, including 58 percent of Democrats, 78 percent of independents and a whopping 92 percent of Republicans.
The poll finds 31 percent of voters approve of the job Nancy Pelosi is doing as speaker of the House, and 57 percent disapprove.