Poll: The Surge in Public Opposition to National Health Care, Explained

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Nov. 18 2013 4:56 PM

Poll: The Surge in Public Opposition to National Health Care, Explained

For 13 years, Gallup has been asking voters whether the the government should "make sure" Americans have health insurance. The trends hardly need any explanation, but, well, just look for the moment they flip.

Screen shot 2013-11-18 at 4.23.42 PM

We all know what happened in 2008: A Democrat won the presidency. Most voters spent the year expecting one to win. Health insurance reform was going to happen. So whose mind did it change?

Screen shot 2013-11-18 at 4.27.54 PM

There we go: The independents. In two years, from 2007 to 2009, their opposition to mandated health insurance surged by 30 points. It's stayed largely negative since then, during the Obama presidency. In the longer term, from the Bush era to the Obama era, Republicans have moved from slight majority opposition to mandates (48 to 65 percent) to supermajority opposition (77 to 87 percent).

When does that change? What if it doesn't? It's the existential fear behind all of the Democratic health care panic—the fear that a public that used to blame private insurers for the cost of health care will start blaming the feds, and never stop.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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