In a week of surprising polls, Gallup has just released another that will raise some eyebrows given legislation just passed in the House last Saturday:
[T]his year marks the first time in the history of this trend that less than half of Americans say ensuring healthcare coverage for all is the federal government's responsibility...The current poll results indicate that, with the renewed healthcare debate since Obama took office, Americans have become less convinced that it is an appropriate goal for the federal government to take on the responsibility of ensuring that all Americans have healthcare coverage.
That's an eye catcher.
More Americans now say it is not the federal government's responsibility to make sure all Americans have healthcare coverage (50%) than say it is (47%). This is a first since Gallup began tracking this question, and a significant shift from as recently as three years ago, when two-thirds said ensuring healthcare coverage was the government's responsibility.
Gallup has asked this question each November since 2001 as part of the Gallup Poll Social Series, and most recently in its Nov. 5-8 Health and Healthcare survey. There have been some fluctuations from year to year, but this year marks the first time in the history of this trend that less than half of Americans say ensuring healthcare coverage for all is the federal government's responsibility.
The high point for the "government responsibility" viewpoint occurred in 2006, when 69% of Americans agreed. In 2008, this percentage fell to 54%, its previous low reading. This year, in the midst of robust debate on a potentially imminent healthcare reform law, the percentage of Americans agreeing that it is the government's responsibility to make sure everyone has health insurance has fallen even further, by seven points, to 47%. Half of Americans now say this is not the government's responsibility.
Interesting. So, the more America learns about this matter, the less they believe government is responsible to insure people.
I guess that explains why the Democrats don't want to make the bills public before they're voted on.
Maybe more telling is how this trend is bipartisan:
A look at the trends on this question shows that both Republicans and Democrats since 2006 have become less likely to choose the "government responsibility" option, though Democrats' views have remained steady over the past year while Republicans' support has declined further.
The percentage of Republicans choosing the "government responsibility" option fell 20 percentage points between 2006 and the current survey, compared to a 13-point drop among Democrats. From a longer-range perspective, however, Democrats' views today reflect essentially a return to the sentiment seen early in the decade, while Republicans now express significantly lower support.
Quite a shift since 2006. Gallup's conclusion?
The current poll results indicate that, with the renewed healthcare debate since Obama took office, Americans have become less convinced that it is an appropriate goal for the federal government to take on the responsibility of ensuring that all Americans have healthcare coverage. It is possible that the current debate has increased the average American's awareness as to the nuances of the various roles the government could play in the healthcare system, helping make the generic "make sure all Americans have healthcare coverage" sound less appealing. Plus, the current debate may have produced more skepticism among Americans that the government's role in healthcare could or should be this broad.
Most polling shows that Americans tend to favor a "public option" in which the government would provide a healthcare plan that would not be mandatory but one of several options for those seeking healthcare insurance. Americans apparently do not equate this with government's guaranteeing that all Americans have healthcare coverage.
Finally, the current data confirm the basic premise that all in all, Americans do not support the idea of a government-run system as a full replacement for the current system based on private insurance.
Will this get much coverage by Obama-loving media in the coming days, and if so, how will it get reported?
Will this raise questions as to why Congress should move forward with this legislation if less than half of the electorate thinks this is government's responsiblity?
Will political leaders such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid be asked if these results should alter the rush to push this legislation through without any bipartisan support?
And given Gallup's conclusion that the more Americans learn on this subject, the less inclined they are to believe it's government's responsibility, will so-called journalists put pressure on Democrats to give the public ample time to review whatever comes out of the Senate BEFORE it's voted on?
Readers are encouraged to review the other surprising Gallup poll this week concerning Republicans now leading Democrats in generic voter preference heading into the 2010 Congressional elections.