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Democrats Lose Enthusiasm For Health Law

Sure, it's just one poll of many, but October marks a crummy month for sentiment about the federal Affordable Care Act.

For the first time since President Obama signed it into law in March 2010, more than half of those polled — 51 percent — told researchers from the Kaiser Family Foundation they had an unfavorable view of the measure overhauling health care. Only 34 percent said they viewed the law favorably, a post-passage low.

And both those numbers were due primarily to waning support among Democrats, who, until now, have been highly supportive of the measure.

"The public is in a sour mood, including Democrats who drove this month's more negative views" toward the law, said Kaiser Family Foundation President and CEO Drew Altman. "I doubt underlying views about the ACA have really shifted much, but the public's mood has shifted and made poll respondents more negative about almost anything we ask them about."

While slightly more than half of Democrats (52 percent) still say they have a favorable view of the law, that was down 13 percentage points from 65 in Sept. Similarly, only 27 percent of Democrats now say they think the law will make them better off, down from 43 percent the month before.

Republicans, on the other hand, remain steadfast in their intense dislike of the measure. More than 8 in 10 have an unfavorable view of the law, with 63 percent saying their view is very unfavorable.

Meanwhile, despite the heated debate among the Republican presidential candidates about whether former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's health plan was or was not the foundation for the federal health law, it appears neither Republicans nor Democrats have much of a clue when it comes to that state's novel law. Massachusetts in 2006 became the first in the nation to require most people to either have insurance or pay a tax penalty.

Yet three-quarters of Democrats and 70 percent of Republicans said they didn't know enough about the Massachusetts law to express a favorable or unfavorable view of it. Similar majorities said they didn't know enough to say if the Massachusetts law is working well, or whether it's similar or different from the federal measure.

There is some slightly bad news for Romney, however. Of the Republicans who did express views on his landmark achievement, only three percent said they had a favorable view, compared to 23 percent who view it unfavorably, and only 3 percent say it's working well, compared to 18 percent who say it's not.

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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