Poll Finds New Jerseyans Skeptical Of Health Care Reform

medicalcosts_optThe percentage of New Jerseyans who say the country is on the right track declined to from 41 percent to 35 percent in two months, according to a Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind poll made public Thursday. Likewise, President Obama’s approval numbers dipped below 50 percent for the first time, to 48 percent, down from 52 percent in October. The president’s approval is lowest among those aged 60 and over (38 percent) and highest with those under age 30 (60 percent). Those who have entitlement¬†insurance such as Medicare, Medicaid, or veterans benefits give the president lower approval marks (41 percent) than those who have employer-provided and private health insurance (50 percent).

Republicans are convinced that they’ll be worse off with the health care reforms that Obama is currently proposing and Democrats and independents have a lot of doubt.

Three of four Republicans (77 percent) say they’ll be worse off with the proposed reforms, while only 9 percent say they’ll be better off. A majority of independents (55 percent) say they’ll be worse off, and more than a third (36 percent) say they’re not sure. While a majority of Democrats (56 percent) say they’ll be better off with health care reform, and few Democrats (15 percent) say they’ll be worse off. Another 30 percent aren’t sure.

“In fact, at this point, neither the president nor congressional leaders have convinced the public that the bill they are working on is for the better,” said Peter Woolley, the poll’s director.

The trust of Democrats and mistrust of Republicans is evidenced in the broader question about how health care reform will affect the whole country: seven in ten Democrats (70 percent) say the country will be better off, while nearly eight in ten Republicans (78 percent) say the country will be worse off. Those who already have government provided health insurance are just as likely as those who have employer provided insurance to say they and the country will be worse off with reform.

Overall, just a third of New Jerseyans (34 percent) say they’d advise their member of Congress to vote for the bill, while 44 percent say they’d advise against it and 22 percent just aren’t sure. A majority of Democrats (61 percent) say they’d advise their member of Congress to vote for the bill. A majority of Republicans say they’d advise their member of Congress to vote against it.

A majority of independents (56 percent) also say they’d advise their member to vote against it. And in a generic vote for a member of Congress, Republicans actually run even or ahead of Democrats by 46 percent to 44 percent.

“Health care legislation has become the defining partisan issue of our age,” Woolley said. “Expect that its merits or demerits will not be debated fairly by party leaders or pundits steeped a perpetual campaign.”

The poll of 801 registered New Jerseyans statewide was conducted by telephone from Jan. 4, 2010, through Sunday, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. NJN

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