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Poll: Americans split on Supreme Court's healthcare decision

July 02, 2012|By Morgan Little
  • This artist rendering shows Chief Justice John Roberts, center, speaking at the Supreme Court in Washington.
This artist rendering shows Chief Justice John Roberts, center, speaking… (Dana Verkouteren / AP Photo )

Americans remain sharply divided on President Obama’s healthcare reform law following the affirmation of most of its provisions by the Supreme Court. But, a new CNN/ORC poll reveals that there have been some positive, if slight, gains for the Affordable Care Act since its contentious passage into law.

Fifty percent of Americans side with the Supreme Court in its ruling Thursday, with 49% disagreeing. As for the law itself, opposition to its provisions has dropped since 2011, the last time CNN asked the same question. More Americans now narrowly favor at least most of its elements (52%), rather than opposing most (47%). That’s a 7-percentage-point swing in favor of the pro-Affordable Care camp, and a 3-percentage-point drop for those against it.

Though approval of the Supreme Court has been on the decline since the early 2000s, a majority of Americans still back the way the court fulfills its duties, 53% to 43%. But delve deeper into those figures, and there’s a sharp divide between Democrats and Republicans in the wake of the court’s healthcare ruling. Seventy-three percent of Democrats approve of the court, compared with just 31% of Republicans.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., whose vote in the 5-4 ruling was pivotal, and surprising to many, remains in good standing despite a rush of criticism from conservatives for agreeing with the court’s more liberal justices that the healthcare mandate was a tax and thus constitutional. Forty-one percent hold a favorable opinion of him, and just 24% have an unfavorable view. But, as tends to be the case with Supreme Court justices, a full 21% had not heard enough about Roberts to render an opinion.

Still, another poll released Monday found a substantial portion of Americans unaware of the Supreme Court’s decision, despite omnipresent media coverage. The Kaiser Family Foundation poll said 41% of Americans acknowledged being unaware of the court’s ruling.

The CNN/ORC poll held between June 28 and July 1 surveyed 1,517 individuals and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points among the general electorate, and plus or minus 4.5 percentage points when divided along party lines.

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