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New Tracking Poll Finds Americans Remain Divided Over Health Law

With the November midterm elections just weeks away, Americans remain chronically divided over the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, but most say that their feelings – pro and con — about the health reform law are not a dominant factor in how they will vote for Congress or whether they will go to the polls, according to the new Kaiser Health Tracking Poll.

Views on health reform tightened up in October, with 42 percent expressing favorable views, 44 percent unfavorable views and 15 percent not offering an opinion. Likely voters are somewhat more negative: 39 percent hold favorable views of the new law, 49 percent hold unfavorable ones. Overall, this continues a now familiar pattern in which positive and negative views of the new law move within a relatively narrow band, reflecting a very divided public. In October, 28 percent said they would support immediate repeal of the law, similar to last month.

No matter what their views on the issue, however, health reform does not appear to be the main issue for most voters as we head into the November elections. Asked to name the most important issue in their vote for Congress, the economy tops voters’ list, named by just over a third (35 percent). Behind that are health reform and dissatisfaction with government, each named by 10 percent. In general, voters are twice as likely to say that the direction of the nation as a whole is more important to their vote than any specific national issue (35 percent vs. 16 percent), with another 21 percent saying their vote will turn on state or local matters and 23 percent saying they will focus more on the specific candidates.

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