A new USA Today/Gallup poll out this morning shows that more Americans blame the Democrats more than any other group when it comes to the inciting the violence and vandalism that have spread across the country in the week since health care reform became law. Fifty percent said passing the bill was a “bad thing,” while 47% said it was a good thing.*
When asked about the violence, 49% of the 1,009 adults surveyed over the weekend said the “Democratic tactics” are a “major reason” for the violent incidents. Forty-six percent said conservative media was responsible, and 43% blamed the attacks on the rhetoric of Republican political leaders.The poll suggests that Americans are warming to the Republican view of the bill and the way it was passed in the days since President Obama signed the historic legislation.
While a widely-cited USA Today/Gallup poll taken the day after the House vote on the bill showed more Americans favored the legislation than opposed it, the poll released today shows that number has flipped back to its pre-passage split.
Americans also criticize the legislative tactics Democrats used to get the bill passed. In the new poll, 53% called passage “an abuse of power” by the majority Democrats, while just 40% said the legislative measures used were “appropriate.”
The poll also features more of the confusing numbers that suggest that overall, Americans don’t know what’s in the health care bill or how it works. Majorities said say it will raise costs and hurt the federal budget, but majorities also said it will improve health coverage and the overall health of the nation.
And though 65% said the bill “will expand the government’s role too much” into the health care system, 51% said “it doesn’t go far enough in regulating the health care industry” and 58% said it should have included a public option.
The contradictory numbers suggest that Democrats can still win over opponents of the bill with strong messaging. But the results blaming the post-passage violence on Democrats and criticizing the legislative tactics used to pass the law suggest that for now, Republicans are winning the message war.
Late Update: Gallup released the full poll data on responsibility for post-reform violence this afternoon. Inside the data, which the USA Today just touched on in its larger story on the poll this morning, is evidence that the public is largely split on who’s to blame. Republicans, by huge majorities, say Democratic legislative tactics incited the anti-reform vandalism and threats. Democrats, by equally large numbers, say either Republicans or conservative commentators are to blame.
Independents think that the answer is a bit more nuanced. Fifty percent say Democratic tactics are the “major factor” behind the violence, while forty percent say the major factor is either the Republicans in Washington or the conservative media.
On the issue of whether Democrats abused their power by using legislative tactics like reconciliation to pass reform, Independents come down on the side come down on the side of Republican respondents, who overwhelmingly say the Democrats went too far. Fifty-eight percent of independents said the Democratic tactics were an “abuse of power” while just 36% said the methods used by the Democratic majority were “appropriate.”