As is so often the case, the focus in news reporting on the fresh results of the Marquette Law School Poll, released on Wednesday, was on the race for governor, with Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s lead over Democratic challenger Mary Burke holding steady from the prior round of polling in January. (Walker led 48 percent to 41 percent this time, compared to 47 percent to 41 percent then.)
But there is a lot more in each round of polling, both results that shed richer light on voters’ views related to candidates and voters’ views on issues. Distinguished Fellow Mike Gousha looks at some of the former in his posting on this blog, which can be found by clicking here. Permit me to look at one aspect of the latter, the results related to the new federal health law, often called Obamacare — results which don’t get much time in the spotlight.
Professor Charles Franklin, director of the Marquette Law School Poll, pointed to one of the most interesting results related to health care in his discussion of the results with Gousha on Wednesday. Put simply: There isn’t much political mileage to be gained from being either strongly in favor or strongly opposed to the federal law. What the majority of those who were polled said they want is to keep the new law but improve it. Specifically, only 8 percent want to keep the law the way it is, only 18 percent want to see it repealed and not replaced. But 52 percent want it improved, while another 18 percent said they want it repealed but replaced with an alternative. That’s 70 percent who want a better plan than Obamacare, but still want a federal health care law (presumably in addition to or expanding on Medicare and Medicaid).
About half of the 801 participants in the poll were asked if they would be more or less likely to vote for someone who supports the current health care law. Twenty five percent said more likely, 28 percent said less likely, and 45 percent said it would make no difference.
The other half were asked a variant on that question: would they be more or less likely to vote for someone who favors complete repeal of the health care law. The answers: 24 percent more likely to vote for such a candidate and 35% less likely, with 39% saying it would make no difference.
In other words, taking a strong stand either in favor of against would make a candidate more attractive to no more than a quarter of all voters. That too supports the thought that the bulk of people are somewhere in the middle, wanting a better law but not completely opposed to a federal health law.
Overall, there has been some rebound in the popularity of Obamacare, but the larger numbers of voters have unfavorable opinions. Last October, 42 percent of voters said they had a favorable view of the law and 48 percent had an unfavorable vote. After the problem-filled roll-out of the enrollment system for the law, only 35 percent said they felt favorably toward the law, with 56 percent unfavorable in January polling. Now, two months later, favorable views rose to 39 percent and unfavorables went down to 50 percent — still well below the October level and still with unfavorable views dominating.
There are a variety of other issues included in polling each time we do it. This time, that includes gay marriage, local control of regulation of sand mining and minimum wages, and whether marijuana should be legalized. And you can find all of that by clicking here to get the full results of the poll. And you watch the conversation between Franklin and Gousha by clicking here.