Four in 10 Americans Believe Healthcare Law Goes Too Far

by Jeffrey M. Jones

Twenty percent say the healthcare law is about right

PRINCETON, NJ -- Americans are most likely to say the healthcare law passed earlier this year goes too far (42%), while 29% say it does not go far enough and 20% say it is about right. Those who believe the law goes too far tend to favor repealing it and passing a new bill as opposed to scaling back the existing bill or repealing the law and not passing new legislation in its place.

Views of Healthcare Law, November 2010

The healthcare law was a major achievement for this Congress but proved to be a symbol of anti-big-government sentiment that helped fuel the Tea Party movement and led to big Republican gains in Congress in the midterm elections. Republican leaders are now deciding what to do with the law after they take control of the U.S. House in January. Even if the House did pass legislation to repeal the healthcare law, the likelihood of its succeeding is slim, given a Democratic president and Democratic-controlled Senate.

The Nov. 4-7 USA Today/Gallup poll finds that most Americans are generally dissatisfied with the law -- 20% describe it as "about right." But less than a majority think it goes too far, and 10% favor repealing the legislation and not passing a new bill in its place.

A substantial minority of 29% seem inclined to want to expand on what the current law does, saying it does not go far enough. That includes 46% of Democrats, but also 27% of independents and 12% of Republicans.

Republicans are, not surprisingly, most likely to say the law goes too far. Half of Republicans would like to repeal the legislation and pass a new bill to replace it, while 20% favor repeal without new legislation.

Views of Healthcare Law, by Political Party Affiliation, November 2010


If the new Republican House majority attempts to repeal the healthcare law, it will be following the wishes of the party's supporters. However, it is not clear whether the wider public would prefer that course of action. Americans in general do not seem to be overly satisfied with the healthcare overhaul, but the appetite for repealing it may not be as big as the midterm election results might suggest, given that less than a majority of Americans believe the legislation goes too far. Further, even most who think the bill goes too far still believe some new healthcare legislation should be passed in its place.

Odds of a repeal effort's succeeding in the next Congress are low, but the Republicans may decide not to fund key provisions of the bill to delay its implementation.

Survey Methods

Results for this USA Today/Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Nov. 4-7, 2010, with a random sample of 1,021 adults, aged 18 and older, living in the continental U.S., selected using random-digit-dial sampling.

For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones (for respondents with a landline telephone) and cellular phones (for respondents who are cell phone-only). Each sample includes a minimum quota of 150 cell phone-only respondents and 850 landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas among landline respondents for gender within region. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.

Samples are weighted by gender, age, race, education, region, and phone lines. Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2009 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older non-institutionalized population living in continental U.S. telephone households. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting and sample design.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

View methodology, full question results, and trend data.

For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit http://www.gallup.com/.

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