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Fox News Poll: Voters support delaying Obamacare, but oppose defunding it

Two extraordinary events happened on Tuesday: The opening of insurance exchanges at the center of President Obama’s health care law and a partial government shutdown stemming from disagreement over the federal budget and whether to defund or delay Obamacare. 

While voters oppose defunding the health care law, they say implementation should be delayed, and a majority wants all or part of the law repealed. 

Voters also view the shutdown negatively and clearly think it is a serious problem, yet a majority believes their family won’t be significantly affected by it.

That’s according to a Fox News national poll conducted after the shutdown began. 

The new poll, released Thursday, finds that an overwhelming majority thinks the shutdown is a serious problem, including 58 percent who see it as “very” serious.  And two-thirds think the government closing is “definitely a bad thing.”  That’s more than twice the number who say it “could be a good thing” (67-30 percent).  

A 59-percent majority says their family won’t be “significantly affected” by the shutdown, while a sizable 37-percent minority says they will. 

Meanwhile, a quarter of voters blame “Republican leaders such as John Boehner” (25 percent) for the shutdown and about the same number point the finger at President Obama (24 percent).  Some 17 percent blame “Tea Party Republicans such as Ted Cruz.”  Just 8 percent blame “Democratic leaders such as Harry Reid.”  Another 20 percent think all of them are responsible for the shutdown.

By a 48-39 percent margin, voters say they trust Republicans in Congress more than President Obama when it comes to cutting government spending enough to make a difference in the deficit while at the same time not cutting so much that valuable programs are hurt.

Those who identify with the Tea Party movement are more likely to think the government shutdown is not a serious problem (53 percent) and most say it could be a good thing (71 percent).  Nearly half of Tea Partiers place blame for the shutdown solely on Obama (49 percent). 

President Obama’s overall job rating has improved 5 percentage points over last month:  45 percent approve now, up from 40 percent in September.  That comes mainly from an increase in approval among his party faithful.  Some 84 percent of Democrats approve of Obama’s performance now, up from a record-low 69 percent last month during the situation with Syria.

The president’s approval for his handling of health care is also up.  In the new poll 45 percent of voters approve, while 38 percent approved in September.

In addition, while about twice as many voters overall have a favorable opinion of Barack Obama as Ted Cruz, the Texas senator has a healthy 60 percent favorable rating among Tea Partiers.  That’s lower than Obama’s 86 percent favorable rating among Democrats, yet it tops Boehner’s 35 percent among Republicans and Reid’s 34 percent among Democrats.

Health Care Law

A 54-percent majority of voters would like to see all or part of the health care law repealed.  That’s down from 58 percent who felt that way in June, and a high of 61 percent in January 2011.  The current 54 percent supporting repeal of at least some of the law matches a low recorded twice before in October 2012 and October 2010.

Most people are happy with their current health care coverage (76 percent).  And by a 52-36 percent margin, they say the pre-Obamacare system would be better for their family than the new law. 

Yet despite a 57-percent majority saying the law “should be delayed for a year until more details are ironed out,” voters oppose defunding the law by 53-41 percent.

Some 39 percent of Democrats favor delaying implementation of Obamacare, along with 55 percent of independents and 80 percent of Republicans.

Last week Sen. Cruz, a supporter of the Tea Party movement, took to the Senate floor to make the case for getting rid of Obamacare.  Voters are more likely to think Cruz’s 21-hour speech did more to hurt (36 percent) rather than help (19 percent) his cause.  Nearly 4 voters in 10 aren’t familiar enough with the speech to offer an opinion.  Among Tea Partiers, 50 percent think Cruz’s speech helped, while 16 percent say it did damage. 

Views split over lawmakers’ attempts to cut off funding for the health care law.  Forty-six percent see it as “an important effort.”  The same number consider it “a waste of time and effort” (46 percent).   Fully 74 percent of Tea Partiers and 59 percent of Republicans call it an important effort, while 61 percent of Democrats view it as a waste of time. 

In the end, 64 percent of voters believe Obamacare will survive these battles and remain the law of the land.  That’s up from 56 percent who felt that way in 2011. 

Poll Pourri

How are things working in the country today?  Almost all voters -- 88 percent -- say “the government is in charge of the people.”  That includes 83 percent of Democrats, 88 percent of independents and 94 percent of Republicans.  

Only 8 percent feel “the people are in charge of the government.”

The Fox News poll is based on landline and cell phone interviews with 952 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide and was conducted under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R) from October 1-2, 2013.  The full poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.

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