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Poll: Most voters believe healthcare mandate is unconstitutional

February 27, 2012|By Kim Geiger
(EPA/MICHAEL REYNOLDS )

Reporting from Washington — Nearly two years after President Obama signed his landmark healthcare package into law, three-quarters of registered voters believe the law’s requirement that every American carry health insurance is unconstitutional, according to a new survey.

A USA Today/Gallup poll taken earlier this month and released Monday found that a majority of voters -- those surveyed in battleground states and nationwide generally -- agreed in their dislike of the Affordable Care Act. Voters in battleground states are more likely to want it repealed, the poll showed.

Fifty-three percent of voters polled in battleground states – Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Nevada, New  Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Virginia and Wisconsin – said they would favor repealing the law if a Republican is elected president in November. Nationwide, 40% said they would favor repeal.

A majority of voters – 50% nationwide and 53% in battleground states – consider the law a bad thing. The vast majority of voters feel the law has so far had no effect on them or their families, but more than 40% believe it will ultimately make things worse.

The results are disappointing news for President Obama, whose reelection campaign counts enactment of the healthcare law as a signature achievement of his administration. And voters’ dislike of the law is likely to be revived next month when the Supreme Court hears arguments in a case challenging the constitutionality of the law.

The survey also polled voters on their general election preferences. Nationwide, Obama and Mitt Romney are tied in a hypothetical head-to-head matchup, with 47% each, according to the poll. Rick Santorum holds a 3 percentage point advantage with 49% compared to Obama’s 46%.  Both results are within the sampling error of four percentage points.

Of a number of polls released Monday, the USA Today/Gallup survey painted the gloomiest picture for Obama. A Rasmussen tracking poll showed Obama leading Romney 45% to 43% and ahead of Santorum, 47% to 42%. A Politico/GWU/Battleground poll showed Obama leading Romney 53% to 43% and leading Santorum 53% to 42%.

It is not unusual for results to vary widely among different polls, as methodology and subject matter can skew results. For example, as we noted last week, a recent polling experiment by Marquette University Law School found that the order of pollsters’ questions can impact respondents’ favorability toward a candidate. In that survey, Obama’s favorability was greater among respondents who were asked job-approval questions before being asked about the economy. 

kim.geiger@latimes.com

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