Two-thirds of voters in battleground congressional districts think it's appropriate for Congress to “temporarily halt funding” for President Barack Obama's health care law before most of its key provisions, including the individual mandate to buy health insurance, take effect in 2014, according to a new poll released Thursday by a conservative group.
Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, meets with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, July 18, 2013. (AP)
The poll also found more than three-fourths of voters favor either slowing implementation or outright repeal.
The survey comes as Republican lawmakers and right-leaning commentators debate whether to threaten a government shutdown to defund the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare.
The results found that 44.5 percent of voters favor repeal and 32 percent back slowing down implementation. Only 20 percent support going forward with the law. On the defunding question, when asked whether it would be appropriate for Congress to "temporarily halt funding for the health care law before these provisions take effect, to make sure they do no do more harm than good?" 67.8 percent said yes, while 25.3 percent said no. A small percentage of respondents said they do not know.
The poll of 1,000 voters was sponsored by Heritage Action for America, the political arm of the conservative think tank Heritage Foundation, and conducted by Basswood Research. It surveyed 10 targeted U.S. House districts – six represented by Republicans and four represented by Democrats. The districts were in Florida, Georgia, Illinois, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Utah and West Virginia.
A plurality – 48.3 percent – of those polled identified themselves as conservative, 30.9 percent identified themselves as moderate and 15.3 percent as liberal, while smaller percentages identified themselves as some “somewhat” or “very” conservative or liberal. Meanwhile, 41.8 percent identified themselves as Republican, 33 percent as Democrats and 22 percent as independent.
If Congress does vote to defund Obamacare, 63.2 percent of those surveyed believe the president would still insist on going forward, while 26.8 percent believe he would compromise. However, a small plurality of 28.3 percent would blame Republicans in Congress if there is a government shutdown, while 21.6 percent would blame Obama. Congressional Democrats would bear the responsibility, according to 16.8 percent of respondents, while 5.1 percent would blame the Tea Party. Another 16.8 percent would blame all of the above.
A plurality of 48 percent said they would be more likely to vote to re-elect their member of Congress if the House member did “everything he or she could to slow down the implementation of the Obama health care plan, including voting to stop its funding.” Meanwhile 33.1 percent of voters said it would make them less likely.
Several House Republicans are pushing to defund implementation of the law, but House GOP leadership seems resistant. Meanwhile, Republican Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Marco Rubio of Florida and Mike Lee of Utah are pressing Senate GOP leaders on defunding the law.
Last week during a news conference, Obama dismissed the notion, saying, “"The idea that you would shut down the government unless you prevent 30 million people from getting health care is a bad idea."