FOX News Poll: 52 Percent Say Town Hall Protesters Expressing Authentic Outrage

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After weeks of congressional debate and significant media coverage of the recent town hall meetings being held around the country, more Americans continue to oppose health care reform.

A FOX News poll released Thursday shows that by a 15 percentage-point margin the public opposes the plans under consideration (34 percent favor and 49 percent oppose). In late July the difference in views was a bit narrower, although even at that time more were opposed by an 11-point spread.

For the most part, the public doesn't see the upside of reform. Views are mixed on how the plans will affect the country, with a slightly higher number saying "most Americans" will be worse off (36 percent) under the plans as think they will be better off (34 percent). Some 20 percent say the reforms would not make a difference.

Click here to see the full poll results.

And when asked about how the plans would affect their own family, by a much wider 15-point margin more Americans think they will be worse off than better off, while just over a third (37 percent) say the reforms would not make a difference to their family.

Moreover, nearly half of Americans feel "frightened" (31 percent) or "angry" (17 percent) about the government being more involved in their health care, while about one in four feels "indifferent" (27 percent). Less than one in five Americans feels "reassured" (19 percent).

Americans say the noisy protesters at town hall meetings are expressing authentic outrage. Some 52 percent think it is real outrage by concerned citizens — significantly more than the 29 percent who think the protesters are fake mobs planned by lobbyists and other opposition groups. More than a third of Democrats (34 percent), most Republicans (74 percent) and nearly half of independents (49 percent) think the meetings are an expression of real anger.

And what about the Obama administration's request for people to send emails with information they see about health reform that seems fishy? A 57-percent majority disapproves of the White House asking people to do this.

Fifty-three percent think the horror stories they hear about what happens in government-run health care systems in other countries could happen here under the proposed plans, and if they were seriously ill an overwhelming 88-percent majority says they would rather receive medical care in the United States than in Canada. That includes large majorities of Democrats (86 percent), Republicans (92 percent) and independents (88 percent).

Opinion Dynamics Corp. conducted the national telephone poll of 900 registered voters for FOX News from August 11 to August 12. The poll has a 3-point error margin.

Among those favoring health care reform, the main reasons given include expanded access for their family (19 percent), improved care for children and the poor (13 percent), better quality health care (13 percent), lower costs (11 percent) and that there should be health care for everyone (8 percent).

For those opposing reform, the top reason is that the quality of health care would decline (14 percent). Others say the main reason is they don't trust the government to run health care (11 percent), that it would raise their costs (10 percent), increase the federal deficit (8 percent) and reduce access to care (8 percent).

Not only do more Americans oppose President Obama's health reform effort, but a majority also sees the budget deficit as the bigger problem right now. More Americans say reducing the budget deficit should be a higher priority for the federal government than reforming health care (57 percent to 34 percent). When the choice is between cutting taxes and reforming health care, health care is the priority by a 49 percent to 40 percent margin.

Finally, two findings that are still relevant to the current debate from the July 21-22 poll: If a government-run health insurance plan is established, most Americans — 81 percent — think members of Congress and the president should be required to be part of that public plan.

And an overwhelming 92 percent majority says members of Congress should be required to read and understand legislation before voting, "even if the bill is thousands of pages long."

Click here for the raw data.