Likely Voters Confident Health Reform Will Pass

Following President Barack Obama’s health care summit on Feb. 25, a new poll shows that likely voters feel more confident that health reform legislation will pass in 2010. The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) commissioned Zogby International to conduct online surveys both before and after the summit.

“After the summit, there was an increase in the number of people who think health reform will pass this year,” S. Ward Casscells, MD, vice president of external relations and public policy and John Edward Tyson Distinguished Professor in Cardiology at UTHealth, said in a press release. “However, there remains an even split between President Barack Obama’s health care plan and a Republican alternative.”

The percentage of those surveyed who thought that health reform legislation has a 75% chance or better of passing this year increased from 22% to 34%. Conversely, the number of people who thought that health legislation has a 25% chance or less of passing dropped from 38% to 26%.

Before the summit, 40% preferred the Obama plan and 40% preferred a Republican alternative. Afterward little changed with 43% preferring the Obama plan and 44% a Republican alternative.

Casscells, former U.S. assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, said that last year when pollsters asked adults what they thought of the U.S Senate Finance Committee’s proposed health care legislation, only 27% supported it. Likewise, when health care reform is described as the “Obama plan,” key components are defined and it is contrasted with a Republican alternative, support goes up, Casscells said.

Another key finding, Casscells said, is that Democrats believe their party is being more forthright about reform than Republicans — 70% to 55%.

Independents were more likely to believe that Democrats are more serious than Republicans about putting the nation’s needs ahead of political gain. Still, nearly half of the independents (49%) do not think either party will put the nation’s needs first, according to the poll.

The pre-summit survey of 1,665 likely voters was conducted Feb. 24-25 and had a margin of error of +/- 2.5 percentage points. The post summit survey of 2,805 likely voters March 2-4 had a margin of error of +/- 1.8 percentage points.

In the latest survey, when asked if the president’s health care summit increased or decreased their support of the president’s health care proposals, 35% reported it had no impact on their support, 31% stated it decreased their support and 30% reported it increased their support.

Forty-two percent of those surveyed reported that they watched the bipartisan summit on health care and another 43% watched or read news coverage about the summit. Fourteen percent did not watch or read about it.

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