By Bob Cusack - 10/06/10 09:55 AM EDT
A majority of voters in key battleground districts favor repeal of the legislative overhaul Congress passed this year.
Republicans have vowed to repeal the law if they take control of Congress, and the findings of Mark Penn, who led Penn Schoen Berland’s polling team, show that healthcare is a major issue for voters this year.
When asked if they wanted the legislation repealed, 56 percent of voters in the surveyed districts said yes. “Only Democrats were opposed to repeal (23 percent to 64 percent),” Penn said. “Undecided voters wanted the healthcare law repealed by 49 percent to 27 percent.”
In each district, a majority of those surveyed said they want the controversial law gone.
Sixty-five percent back repeal in Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick’s (D-Ariz.) district, while only 27 percent oppose such an effort. Kirkpatrick voted for healthcare reform.
Fifty-nine percent of those polled in Rep. Debbie Halvorson’s (D-Ill.) district back a repeal, with 29 percent against. More than one in four Democrats polled also favor repeal. Halvorson was a late yes vote on healthcare reform and is now 18 points behind her Republican challenger.
Republicans say they will “repeal and replace” Obama’s health law, although they privately acknowledge that eradicating it will not be possible until they control the White House.
Still, The Hill/ANGA poll suggests that the GOP attacks against what they call “ObamaCare” may be working.
Independent voters, who strongly supported Obama’s presidential bid, have a negative view of his most significant domestic policy achievement.
Rep. Harry Teague (D-N.M.) voted no on the healthcare overhaul and that position is consistent with his district, where 49 percent of Democrats favor repeal and 46 percent oppose it. Sixty-one percent of independents in Teague’s district back a repeal.
Teague is trailing in his race with former Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M.) by four percentage points, the poll found.
Penn said, “I was most surprised at the strong discontent with healthcare [reform]. I thought that there was continued discontent but that it had moderated from what we’re seeing in these districts.”
He added, “Most people actually favor repeal of the healthcare legislation, and that included 54 percent of the independents. So outside of the Democratic Party, healthcare legislation has come out as a net negative.”
Of the 12 districts polled, only one fell within the margin of error on repeal. Forty-four percent support repeal while 41 percent oppose it in Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy’s (D-Ohio) district. Kilroy backed healthcare reform and is 9 points down in her race against Republican Steve Stivers.
Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper’s (D-Pa.) decision to back healthcare reform is hobbling her. In his summary of findings, Penn writes that “57 percent of respondents [in the district] believe that the healthcare legislation … should be repealed. Undecided voters feel this way by a margin of 45 percent to 33 percent.”
The Hill/ANGA poll finds that Dahlkemper is trailing 13 points behind her Republican challenger.
Republicans and independents in Rep. Dina Titus’s (D-Nev.) district fit the same pattern, only more so. Almost two-thirds of independents there want the law scrapped. Titus, who voted yes on reform, is in a tight race against Republican Joe Heck.
Rep. Frank Kratovil (D-Md.) voted against reform, and that appears to be helping his reelection bid. Kratovil is only three points behind his GOP challenger in a district where nearly one in three Democrats back repeal.
The Hill/ANGA poll surveyed 4,809 likely voters via phone interviews from Sept. 25 through Sept. 30 in 12 competitive congressional districts. The margin of error was plus or minus 1.4 percent, with the margins being higher in subgroups.
Emily Goodin contributed to this report.
The Hill/ANGA 2010 Midterm