The United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll, conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International, surveyed 1,013 adults by landline and cell phone from Nov. 14-17. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points.
Amid all of the turmoil surrounding the law, solid majorities of Americans continue to say they believe it will "make things better" for people who do not have health insurance (63 percent) and the poor (59 percent). Only about one-third thought the law would "make things "¦ worse" for each group. In each case, that's a slight improvement in the overall judgment since the July poll. Back then, 58 percent thought the law would help the uninsured and 55 percent believed it would benefit the poor.
These results reflect a broad consensus. In the new survey, solid majorities of Democrats, independents, nonwhites, and both college-educated and noncollege whites say the law will help the uninsured; majorities of each of those groups except whites without college degrees also say it will help the poor (and even a 49 percent plurality of those noncollege whites agree). Republicans were more dubious, but even so, 47 percent thought the law would help the uninsured and 42 percent believed it would benefit the poor.
These results are a mixed blessing for the law's supporters, though, because the poll also finds that most Americans, especially whites, are much more dubious that the law will benefit broader groups in the country, or their own families. That confounds the anticipation of Democratic strategists who have hoped for decades that health care reform could reverse the skepticism among many voters, particularly middle-class whites, that Washington can deliver tangible benefits in their own lives.
Relatively few voters, especially whites, are anticipating such benefits from the health care law, the poll found. Overall, just 33 percent said they expected the law will make things better for "people like you and your family," while 49 percent said they thought it would make things worse. That was little changed since July (when those polled split 35 percent positive to 46 percent negative). But the results continued the decline since September 2012, just before Obama's reelection, when a narrow 43 percent to 40 percent plurality expected the law to improve their personal health care.
The latest result continued the stark racial split on this critical question. Minorities, by a 51 percent to 30 percent margin, thought the law was more likely to make things better than worse for their families. That represented a small deterioration (within the margin of error) for Obama since July, but maintained a huge gulf in attitudes compared with whites. Just 25 percent of whites said they believed the law would improve conditions for their family; nearly three-fifths of whites (58 percent) thought it would make things worse for them. (That also represented only a small deterioration, also within the margin of error, since July.) Only about one-fifth of whites without a college degree, a group consistently tough on Obama, thought the law would make things better for them; but so did only about one-third of college-educated whites, a constituency usually more open to him. Minorities and whites remain starkly divided as to whom will benefit from the president's health care plan.