A Turnaround Perceptions of Health Reform?

03/08/2010 10:04 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

As promised, my column for this week considers where general perceptions of health care reform currently stand, and whether they might improve should congress finally enact the legislation into law in the coming weeks.

Read it all for details, but the short version: While it is a long shot that passage will dispel many of the common misperceptions, it might not take much of a shift in the polling numbers to change the way political insiders perceive the legislation's popularity. Think of it this way: Many opponents of health reform point to our chart of general favor-or-oppose questions to argue that the legislation is "deeply unpopular," wisdom now so conventional it was the premise of a Saturday Night Live spoof over the weekend.

Yet our current trend estimate, based on all the available surveys, shows opposition leading support by eight percentage point (51% to 43%). If just 1 voter in 25 shifts from opposition to support, our estimate would show Americans evenly divided on the issue. I'm not predicting that will happen, just pointing out that it will not take a huge shift to bring these measurements to something fairly characterized as division rather than "deep" unpopularity.