A new survey by the Public Religion Research Institute bucks the conventional wisdom that voters are overwhelmingly mad about health care reform and that candidates who embrace it on the campaign trail are putting themselves at risk.
Fifty-four percent of voters say they would be more likely to back a candidate who supported health care reform, according to the poll. That number includes 51 percent of independents and 79 percent of Democratic voters. Fifty-nine percent of Republican voters, however, say they would be less likely to vote for a candidate who supported the legislation.
"This isn't a shock to anyone who's actually been on the ground, in the 50 states, organizing," said Arshad Hasan, executive director of Democracy for America, which provides grassroots support to progressive candidates. "We've been shouting this from the rooftops all year, and this data backs it up. Most people are tired of being ripped off by big insurance companies and were hungry for reform. That's why President Obama ran on health care as an issue, and that's why Democrats should stand by it now. If anything, people are upset that reform wasn't stronger."
A recent Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking poll also found that 49 percent of the public has a "generally favorable" view of the Affordable Care Act, and 40 percent have an unfavorable view.
There are at least three Democrats -- Rep. Earl Pomeroy (ND), Rep. Steve Israel (NY), and Sen. Russ Feingold (WI) -- actively touting their support of health care reform on the campaign trail, as the Wonk Room's Igor Volsky notes.
In Feingold's new ad, for example, there are regular people praising the senator for fighting insurance companies and telling his competitor, Ron Johnson, "hands off my healthcare."
When asked by The Huffington Post about Feingold's strategy to embrace his health care vote, Senior Advisor John Kraus replied, "Russ is running on his record taking on the corporate special interests who have too much power and influence in Washington. Taking on insurance companies and passing health insurance reform was the right thing to do. Ron Johnson said he got in this race to repeal health insurance reform but he has run over $7 million in TV ads and is afraid to tell voters he wants to repeal reform and put insurance companies back in control. Russ has the backbone to stand by reform while Johnson doesn't have the guts to stand by his plan [to] repeal reform."
Another recent poll by the Associated Press found that "Americans who think the law should have done more outnumber those who think the government should stay out of health care by 2-to-1."
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