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As Republicans debate on Capitol Hill whether to defund Obamacare, at least three major conservative groups have released polls showing to what extend the public believes this is a good or bad idea: American Crossroads, Heritage Action, and FreedomWorks.
So what do Americans’ really believe? Let’s take a closer look.
Over the summer, American Crossroads released a poll that some argued showed a shutdown strategy over Obamacare would backfire. The question asked:
Some people say that the health care reform law is so bad that an effort to repeal it should be attached to a bill necessary to keep the government running. Do you think it is a good idea or a bad idea for opponents of the health care reform law to risk shutting down the government in an effort to get rid of the law?
Asked this way, 64 percent of Americans said this was a “bad idea,” compared to only 29 percent who said “good idea.” Critics were quick to claim the question wording was biased. See the chart below.
Erik Erickson at RedState accused Crossroads of a betrayal of mythic proportions, like how Ephialtes betrayed the Spartans at Thermopylae. Matt Lewis at Daily Caller seemed less inclined to say the poll was “rigged.” Sean Hannity even hosted Karl Rove and Sen. Mike Lee on his radio program to debate the merits.
In response, Heritage Action fielded a poll of constituents in ten Republican-leaning Congressional districts that asked:
As you might know, major parts of the Obama health care law will soon be implemented, including the mandate that requires every individual to buy health insurance or pay a fine, and the government sponsored health insurance exchanges that are affecting private sector health care premiums and access to doctors. Do you think it would be appropriate for congress to temporarily halt funding for the health care law before these provisions take effect, to make sure they do not do more harm than good?
Asked this way, Heritage found the exact opposite of Crossroads: 68 percent said “yes,” 25 percent said “no.” See chart below.
Salon’s Alex Seitz-Walked called Heritage’s poll “comically euphemistic” and “misleading.” But Slate’s David Weigel explained the logic of how a “well-messaged Obamacare war would not only be a boon to [Republicans] in their districts—it would scare a few Democrats in seats they should have lost already.”
This week, FreedomWorks released our own poll attempting to gauge, in an evenhanded way, what the public truly believes. We asked:
As you may know, Congress is set to pass a spending bill as a stopgap measure called a “continuing resolution” that funds the government and avoids a temporary government shutdown. Would you prefer Congress to pass a continuing resolution that includes tens of billions of dollars in funding for implementing Obamacare, or a continuing resolution that does NOT include funding for Obamacare at this time?
FreedomWorks found that a majority of 56 percent of Americans favor a continuing resolution that “does not include funding for Obamacare,” compared to 35 percent who do. Republicans were more emphatically against, with 82 percent of Republicans favoring a CR that does not include funding for Obamacare. See chart below.
So what do Americans’ really believe? Skeptical readers may well dismiss all of this, given the time honored tradition in Washington of releasing skewed poll numbers.
I would argue that FreedomWorks poll offers respondents the most balanced trade off of any defund Obamacare poll question I’ve seen. Considering Obamacare’s declining popularity—only 17 percent of voters say they would be personally “better off”—the data seems to shows that Republicans in Congress have sufficient support in the public to fight. At very least, defunding Obamacare is not obviously a political loser.
But read the polls, judge for yourself, and let us know what you think in the comments below!