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Poll: Most Want GOP to Keep Fighting on Health Bill


CBS News Poll analysis by the CBS News Polling Unit: Sarah Dutton, Jennifer De Pinto, Fred Backus and Anthony Salvanto.

A CBS News poll released Wednesday finds that nearly two in three Americans want Republicans in Congress to continue to challenge parts of the health care reform bill.

The Senate version of the legislation was passed by the House Sunday night, and President Obama signed it into law on Tuesday. The House also passed a separate reconciliation bill, which cannot be filibustered, that is now being debated in the Senate. That bill would make changes to the bill already signed into law.

Senate Republicans are now challenging whether the bill is truly a budget reconciliation bill (which is what makes it filibuster-proof) and inserting amendments designed to slow down passage. Republican attorneys general are also planning to challenge the constitutionality of the law.

The poll finds that 62 percent want Congressional Republicans to keep challenging the bill, while 33 percent say they should not do so. Nearly nine in ten Republicans and two in three independents want the GOP to keep challenging. Even 41 percent of Democrats support continued challenges.

Americans are split about the fact that the bill largely lacked bipartisan support. Fifty percent said they were disappointed that the bill did not have support from both parties, while 44 percent said that it doesn't matter.

Most see the bill as an important achievement for the president. Fifty-two percent called passage a major accomplishment for Mr. Obama, up from 46 percent before Sunday's vote. Thirteen percent called it a minor accomplishment, and 32 percent said passage was not an accomplishment.

For the new poll, CBS News re-interviewed 649 adults interviewed just before the House vote in a CBS News poll conducted March 18-21. The findings suggest an improvement in perceptions of the legislation: While 37 percent approved of it before the vote, 42 percent approved afterward.

Read the Complete Poll

Still, there was significant disapproval for the bill. Forty-six percent say they disapprove, including 32 percent who strongly disapprove. Those numbers have barely moved since before the bill was signed.

Americans also did not significantly change their views on the impact of the bill. Thirty percent still say it will make the health care system better, while 33 percent say it will make the system worse.

They have also held relatively firm in their perceptions of how the bill will effect them. Sixteen percent say the bill will "mostly help," while 35 percent say it will "mostly hurt." Both of those numbers are down slightly from before the vote. Forty-three percent now say the bill will have "no effect," an increase of eight points.

A majority of Americans continue to say that they find the bill to be confusing and do not understand what it means for them or their family.

Passage of the bill did seem to improve perceptions of Democrats in Congress. Thirty-eight percent now say they approve of Congressional Democrats, up from 29 percent before the vote. Fifty-six percent disapprove. The approval rating for Republicans in Congress has held roughly steady at just 25 percent. About one in two Americans call passage of the bill a major accomplishment for the Democratic Party.

There has also been a boost in perceptions of President Obama's handling of the issue. Before the vote, his approval rating on handling health care was 41 percent; afterward, it was 47 percent. His disapproval rating fell from 51 percent to 48 percent.

About one in two Americans say Mr. Obama has kept a campaign promise in getting the legislation passed. Forty-three percent, including three in four Republicans and a slim majority of independents, say he has forced through an unpopular agenda.

Six in ten Americans say they expected the bill to pass, while 36 percent say they were surprised it got through Congress. Seventeen percent now say they are "more optimistic about Washington" as a result of the effort to pass the bill, up from 12 percent before the vote. A majority still say the vote made them more pessimistic about Washington.

Despite a Congressional Budget Office analysis finding that the bill will ultimately lower the budget deficit by $143 billion over the first ten years and $1.2 trillion dollars in the second ten years, 57 percent of those surveyed, including most Republicans and independents, say the bill will increase the deficit. Just 18 percent say it will decrease the deficit.

Details of the Bill:

Summary of What's in the Bill
Uninsured? What the New Bill Means for You
Already Insured? Get Ready to Pay More
Health Reform Tweaks Seniors' Medicare
Feds Eye Big Savings from Health Reform
How Health Reform Affects Small Businesses
Provisions Which Take Effect in Short-Term
Read the Text (PDF): Complete Senate Bill | Reconciliation Measure

More Coverage on Health Care Reform:

Obama Dares GOP to Run on Repeal of Health Bill
Poll: Most Want GOP to Keep Fighting on Health Bill
Eric Cantor Says Bullet Shot Through His Office Window This Week
Joe Biden: "F-Bomb" During Health Care Signing was the Highlight of the Day
Coffin on Lawmaker's Lawn, Other Reports of Angry Actions Surface
Violent Threats Leveled at House Members
Poll: Small Bump in Health Care Believers
Health Care Bill Myths Likely to Linger
Biden Swears at Bill Signing: Just Biden Being Biden?

This poll was conducted by telephone on March 22-23, 2010 among 649 adults first interviewed by CBS News March 18-21, 2010. Phone numbers were dialed from samples of both standard land-line and cell phones. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus four percentage points. The error for subgroups is higher. This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Poll
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