Obama's Healthcare Law Creates More Reaction Than Romney's

Obama's Healthcare Law Creates More Reaction Than Romney's

by Frank Newport

Both the national law and the Mass. law have a more negative than positive impact on voters

PRINCETON, NJ -- President Obama's support for the 2010 national healthcare bill has more of a political impact than Mitt Romney's support for a healthcare bill he signed into law when he was Massachusetts governor. Specifically, 22% of registered voters say Obama's support for the national healthcare law makes them more likely to vote for him, while 36% say it makes them less likely. If Romney wins the Republican presidential nomination, 6% say his support for the Massachusetts healthcare bill will make them more likely to vote for him next November, and 21% less likely.

As you may know, passing the healthcare law was one of President Obama’s major goals. Does his support for the law make you more likely to vote for President Obama in this November’s election, less likely, or does it not make much difference?\n\nAs you may know, when Mitt Romney was governor of Massachusetts he signed into a law a healthcare bill for that state. If Romney is the Republican nominee for president, would his support for that Massachusetts healthcare law make you more likely to vote for him in this November’s election, less likely, or would it not make much difference? February 2012

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The overall impact of both bills on voters is a net-negative rather than a net-positive, given that more voters say the healthcare bills associated with Obama and Romney make them less likely as opposed to more likely to vote for each candidate.

Americans voters' opinions about Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act are significantly more divided along partisan lines than are opinions about Romney's Massachusetts law.

About half of registered Democrats (49%) interviewed in a Feb. 20-21 USA Today/Gallup poll say Obama's support for the U.S. healthcare law makes them more likely to vote for him, while 4% say it makes them less likely. On the other hand, two-thirds of Republican voters say Obama's support for the law makes them less likely to vote for him, while 3% say more likely.

The politically important group of independents tilts negative, with 32% saying the law makes them less likely to vote for Obama and 20% more likely.

Effect of Obama/Romney Support for U.S./Mass. Healthcare Law on 2012 Vote, February 2012

The Massachusetts healthcare law passed in 2006 when Romney was governor has been an issue mainly within the Republican Party this year; Romney's Republican opponents have frequently raised the law as evidence of Romney's moderate to liberal leanings. Perhaps because Romney has yet to win the GOP nomination and the general election campaign is not yet underway, more than 6 in 10 voters within all three political groups at this stage say Romney's support for his state's healthcare law has no impact either way on their likelihood to vote for him in November if he is the nominee.

Attitudes about the Massachusetts law vary remarkably little across partisan groups. Twenty-three percent of both Republicans and independents say they are less likely to vote for Romney because of the Massachusetts law, compared with 14% of Democrats. Less than 10% of any partisan group says the law makes them more likely to vote for Romney.


Obama's support for the 2010 healthcare law has become one of the major points of contention in his re-election campaign. The president refers to the bill as a signature achievement of his first term, while Republican candidates criticize the bill as an unwanted intrusion of government power into Americans' personal lives.

Overall, American adults are divided as to whether the bill is a good or a bad thing, although registered voters tilt more negative, with 42% saying it is a good thing and 50% a bad thing.

However, at this point, the law is a net negative for Obama in several respects. First, by about a 15-percentage-point margin, voters say the bill makes them less likely to vote for Obama rather than more likely to vote for him -- with 4 in 10 saying it will make no difference to their vote. Second, the key group of independents is more negative than positive, by a 12-point margin (20% more likely to vote for Obama, 32% less likely).

Romney's GOP opponents have raised the Massachusetts law as an indication of Romney's historical support for more moderate causes, and have argued that the law is quite similar to Obama's national law. About a quarter of Republicans appear to agree that Romney's support for his state's law is a negative, with most of the rest saying it makes no difference to their support for Romney.

If Romney becomes the GOP nominee, it is unclear how much his support for the Massachusetts healthcare law will affect the vote for him in the general election. Obama and his supporters may continue to attempt to use Romney's signing of that bill into law to defuse his almost certain criticism of Obama's law.

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Survey Methods

Results for this USA Today/Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of the Gallup Daily tracking survey Feb. 20-21, 2012, with a random sample of 881 registered voters, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

For results based on the total sample of registered voters, 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 and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each sample includes a minimum quota of 400 cell phone respondents and 600 landline respondents per 1,000 national adults, with additional minimum quotas among landline respondents by region. Landline telephone numbers are chosen at random among listed telephone numbers. Cell phone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods. 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, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, adults in the household, and phone status (cell phone only/landline only/both, cell phone mostly, and having an unlisted landline number). Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2011 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older non-institutionalized population living in 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 www.gallup.com.

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