CNN Poll: Should health care law be overturned?
March 26th, 2012
04:00 PM ET
10 years ago

CNN Poll: Should health care law be overturned?

Washington (CNN) - Most Americans don't want the Supreme Court to completely overturn the landmark yet controversial 2010 federal health care reform law, but only a quarter of the public wants to see the high court leave the measure alone, according to a new national survey.

And a CNN/ORC International poll also indicates that while the two year old law is growing in popularity, especially among independent voters, half of all Americans still oppose it, although some who disapprove of the measure do so because they think it's not liberal enough.

See full results (pdf)

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The poll's Monday release comes as the Supreme Court began hearing three days of potentially landmark oral arguments over the constitutionality of the sweeping health care measure, formally know as the Affordable Care Act, which was championed by President Barack Obama and passed by a Democratic controlled Congress.

According to the poll, 43% of Americans approve of the law, up five points from last November, with 50% saying they disapprove, down six points from last autumn. Of those who currently disapprove of the measure, 37% say they oppose the law because it's too liberal, with 10% saying the give the measure a thumbs down because it's not liberal enough.

"The views of Republicans and Democrats on the health care law have barely budged since last year," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "But support among independents grew from 32 percent to 41 percent since November."

The survey indicates that 23% want the Supreme Court to leave the current law as is, with 43% saying some provisions should be overturned, and three in ten saying the justices should overturn the entire measure.

The principle question before the justices is whether the requirement that people buy health insurance is unconstitutional. The provision, known as the "individual mandate," was designed to help more people get affordable health insurance coverage - including the 49 million uninsured today - and bring health costs under control.

The health insurance mandate splits the public right down the middle, with a bare 51% majority of those questioned saying that they oppose it and 47% favoring the provision.

"Most women support the individual mandate," Holland notes. "Most men oppose it."

The potentially landmark arguments over the constitutionality of the sweeping health care law is one of the most politically charged cases in recent years in from of the Supreme Court. With a divided bench, do Americans think the justices will base their decisions mostly on an objective interpretation of the law? Fifty percent say that the justices' decisions will be based mostly on their personal political views, with 46% saying their decisions will based on an objective interpretation of the law. That may be one reason why six in ten Americans would like to see the Supreme Court allow televisions cameras into the courtroom when the justices hear arguments.

Will the Supreme Court's decisions on the health care law affect the general election in November? Maybe not. More than three-quarters say their vote would be unaffected if the high court strikes down all or part of the health care law, and the president might wind up gaining as much support as he would lose.

"One reason: only one in ten Americans say that health care is the most important issue facing the country today; more than half continue to name the economy as the country's top problem," adds Holland.

The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International Saturday and Sunday, with 1,014 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

- CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.

Also see:

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Graham's 'comfortable' with Romney

Plouffe calls out GOP candidates over Obama reaction

soundoff (214 Responses)
  1. Eric

    I think we should do another poll. We need to ask those that have private insurance if they support this bill, then ask those that do not have insurance if they support this bill. I think the numbers will absolutely speak for themselves. This is not a Republican or Democratic thing, this is a poor vs. wealthy thing. It's easy, when you have insurance, to sit back and tell others that we don't need this bill. But try being without insurance, have a pre-existing condition, or nearing the limits of your policy, and stand on the same principal. It won't work. That's the bottom line. The wealthy do not want to do anything that helps bring a bit of equity to the poor and suffering. It's always nice to sit on your high horse and preach to others about what they need, or don't need, when you're already covered.

    March 26, 2012 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  2. Hugganoak

    Adam R and Rudy NYC, you are right on the money! Too many people just have a knee jerk reaction and don't take time to understand the reason. I'll only add that Obama's health care plan forces people to TAKE RESPONSIBILITY! You would think the pugs would be all for it for that reason, but they are too busy playing politics.
    BTW, I wonder if the supreme court rules that the government can't force you to pay for something you don't want, does that mean I can also stop paying my taxes?

    March 26, 2012 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  3. WDinDallas

    "why is the US the opnly development country with out it?"

    Because we are the ONLY developed country in the world! That's why!

    The government can't run an out-house efficiently. The only working "government" control thing that works is our military and that is because the Generals keep politicians noses out of most procurement and implementation.

    March 26, 2012 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  4. Mike

    I have doubts about this being a fair case hearing. After all its not everyday that your wife is on the payroll of the opposition for oh $680,000+ which isn't that big of a deal I guess.... except he reported it as if she received no income for a number of years. Lies and deception no big deal right? They aren't going to come right out and tell you but I'm betting Virginia will get a HUGE bonus or kick-back for helping the insurance companies to continue robbing us blind by picking and choosing who they cover out of the pool of healiest people and leaving the rest without coverage.

    March 26, 2012 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  5. G Van Etten

    I do not get it.....How in the world can anyone support this poorly thought out legislation ? I have yet to hear of one politician, whether Republican or Democrat who has even read the complete bill. I for one have seen government at work and am still looking to find an example, of something they do efficiently and right. If anyone thinks this anything thinks our bloated Federal Government can handle health care, I have a large high desert ranch for sale. It is a great deal, trust me.

    March 26, 2012 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    Are Americans really too stupid to understand that the US spends 4 times more on health care than any other advanced industrialized nations, for only middling outcomes (e.g., life expectancy, infant mortality)? And that this is both a drain on our economy and a disadvantage for American employers?

    "Health care" and "the economy" are not separable issues, much as the Rethuglicans would like to tell us otherwise.

    March 26, 2012 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  7. RAD


    The version of this story that you posted as e-mail TOTALLY misrepresents the actual story. In the email, you report "Nearly one in three Americans thinks the U.S. Supreme Court should overturn the entire 2010 health care law..."

    When did you hire someone from Fox to write your e-mails. Clearly it would have been more correct to say that more than two-thirds of Americans think the law should be UPHELD! Why report on less than a third said something? Some of us can still do math.

    Hey, this is Americans we're talking about. Probably more than a third of them believe that Jesus spoke English! Or that Obama is a Kenyan Muslim! And probably fewer than that could find their own state (never mind the USA) on a map.

    March 26, 2012 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  8. Tewks44

    People spend years studying the law to know how it should be interpreted. The fact your average American thinks he/she is in any way qualified to know how the law should be interpreted when lawyers, judges, and supreme court judges are having difficulty is absolutely hilarious.

    March 26, 2012 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  9. larper2

    Rudy NYC: No one needs car insurance until they wreak his/her car either but we are forced to have car insurance. Our car insurance is high because of the people who don't have it and the industry has to cover the ones that don't have car insurance. Don't you see the parallel between car insurance and health insurance.

    March 26, 2012 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  10. Captain

    This is a poll, not news! You could produce a poll that says 95% of Americans believe the sky is red, but that doesn't make it a fact.

    March 26, 2012 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  11. Cindy

    Saying that healthy people should not be forced to "participate in commerce" to pay for something they are not currently receiving is a whole lot like saying I should not have to pay my property tax because I don't have any kids in public schools, which receive the lion's share of that tax. Part of the social contract is the individual mandate to help support the health, prosperity and well-being of ALL members of your society. To do less is just dog eat dog and is that what we're really aiming for this country to look like or do we want better for ourselves and our friends, neighbors and communities?

    March 26, 2012 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  12. Larry L


    "These judges are bought and paid for. They'll pass the law."
    SInce the Court appears to be little more than a tool for the Republicans I have a hard time understanding your comment. Do you recall the Bush-Gore election debacle or more recently, the Citizen's United decision? The conservative judges tend to vote (resulting in a 5-4 split) for everything the Republicans want and they certainly don't want this law – because it's good for the American working class. Do I misunderstand your meaning?

    March 26, 2012 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  13. BioHzrd420

    "The problem tends to be that we don't know who was polled, where, when, or how the questions were ordered or actually posed."

    @BigRed...It's easy to say that when you don't read the article. It is posted on the blatant link called "see full results," which gives the full 12 page pdf that explains and states EXACTLY EVERYTHING you have complained is not there. Here, I will copy and paste the answer to ONE of your questions for you..

    "Interviews with 1,014 adult Americans conducted by telephone by ORC International on March 24-25, 2012. The margin of sampling error for results based on the total sample is plus or minus 3 percentage points. The sample also includes 925 interviews among registered voters (plus or minus 3 percentage points).
    The sample includes 761 interviews among landline respondents and 253 interviews among cell phone respondents."

    March 26, 2012 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  14. markiejoe

    I'm fine if they want to overturn the individual mandate, as long as they rule that anyone who refuses to buy health insurance on his/her own will have to sign a contract with the government saying that they agree to forego any and all health care unless it is paid cash up front out of their own pocket. Otherwise, they will be left in the street to die after their auto accident.

    March 26, 2012 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  15. Paul

    The Supreme Court will rule 5 to 4 to overturn the mandate. There are five partisan Republicans and four selected by Democrats. The Supreme Court made it clear that politics rule over law when they prevented the recount of the Florida vote.The Republican Candidate won the 2000 election even when the Democrat had a majority of the votes in the entire country. We have been going down hill ever since. This partisan Supreme Court is about politics first. They will help the Republiicans win this year.

    March 26, 2012 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  16. Mammy

    Africans just want free pain meds.

    March 26, 2012 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  17. Ivan

    9 out of 9 of the Supreme Court Justices will ALWAYS pick politics over the rule of law. Justices are nominated by the President and then approved by the Senate, both political structures. In the past 100 years we've had more White Male Supreme Court justices then any other group of people.

    It's been a HUGE misinterpretation for Latinos, Asians, Native Americans, Blacks, Woman, and Gay's that also reside in this country as so-called, "Equal Citizens". It would be a very disappointing for the conservative justices to vote against the most important legislation of our lifetime.

    I don't expect much from this antiquated judicial system that has provided more injustice then actual "Justice" for minorities. Such absurd laws like Plessy v. Ferguson, 1896, where the all-white Supreme Court decided separate but equal. It took 50 years, Brown vs the Board of Education, 1954, for the law to be overturned.

    Is it going to take another 50 years for us to decide that ALL people in America should have the same right to see a Doctor as another? The right thing to do would be to help others first then worry about your standard of living later. Think about the moral reasoning before politics people.

    March 26, 2012 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  18. kim

    People who don't understand that sky-rocketing, out of control health care costs are a major contributor to a weak economy, need to cash in their Big Pharma stocks and try to live like the rest of us. The insane mark-up on pharmeceutical drugs in this country is far, far worse than what the Mexican drug cartels do. Without strict price controls, we are at the mercy of those who know no mercy.

    March 26, 2012 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  19. Joe

    YOU GOTTA BE KIDDING. Judges are human. Humans have prejudices. They can legally justify any decision they make. There is NO more 'objective interpretation of the law."

    March 26, 2012 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  20. m

    duh! stupid poll. we already knew this. cnn...please start reporting real news,you morons!

    March 26, 2012 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  21. sara

    This ELECTION will clearly be on the line for ALL fair minded Americans. Our Supreme Court Demand Attention!!!!!

    March 26, 2012 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  22. John in AZ

    Bush v. Gore (2000) was for the Supreme Court what Watergate was for the Presidency...

    March 26, 2012 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  23. BLKMANinAmerica

    NO, this (Health Care Law) benefits the greater society GOOD, vs. something repuks do NOT want because they want to remain an "exclusive club". People in this country deserve better and honestly should'nt have to pan-handle for medical coverage. The U.S. really might want to consider joining the CIVILIZED world.

    March 26, 2012 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  24. John

    Polls are BS no one I know got called same thing in the case in FLA it's all BS

    March 26, 2012 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  25. sam smith

    I do not want this law period; it is un-American to force people to do this.

    March 26, 2012 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
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