Poll: troubling parallels between Obama and Clinton health care plans

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Voters' views of President Obama’s healthcare plan bear a striking resemblance to Americans' view of President Bill Clinton’s efforts to reform healthcare in 1993 and 1994, a new poll shows.

Voters today are roughly as familiar with Mr. Obama’s plan as the public was with the healthcare proposals in June 1994, with more than 60 percent saying they were familiar with the plans, according to a new national survey by the firm Public Opinion Strategies.

In June 1994, 23 percent of those surveyed said they favored the Clinton plan. This August, 25 percent say they favor Obama’s proposals.

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Healthcare plans a hard sell

“The data is hauntingly similar to what we saw in 1994,” said Bill McInturff, a partner in Public Opinion strategies, a firm that serves Republicans, in a statement. “President Obama is learning the same lesson that the Clintons learned: Too much government intervention in the healthcare system can alienate more voters than it attracts.”

Thirty-seven percent of registered voters surveyed by Public Opinion Strategies between Aug. 11 and 13 still had no opinion about the Obama healthcare proposals. So it must be troubling for the White House that 49 percent of those surveyed liked the Obama plan less when they heard more about it, versus 38 percent whose support grew as they got more information.

Seeing more and liking it less

That compares to 52 percent of American adults surveyed about the Clinton plan in 1994 who liked it less as their familiarity with it grew. Some 34 percent liked the Clinton plan more as they heard more about it.

Mr. McInturff played a role in defeating the Clinton healthcare plan. He conducted the polling for the “Harry and Louise” television commercials that were instrumental in turning public opinion against the Clinton plan. He was also a key adviser to Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign in 2008.

The new poll underscores results from August’s NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. In the NBC/Journal poll, only 41 percent of those surveyed approved of Obama’s handling of the healthcare issue, with 47 percent disapproving.

But neither did the NBC/Journal poll, which McInturff helps direct, offer much comfort to Republicans. It found just 21 percent of respondents approved of the Republicans' handling of the healthcare issue.
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