CNN Poll: Majority Of Americans Support Bill Or Wish It Was More "Liberal"

March 22, 2010 2:55 pm ET — Chris Harris

Echoing many on the right, Newt Gingrich today sent an email claiming, "In every recent poll the vast majority of Americans opposed this monstrosity."

But that just isn't true.  A Kaiser Family Foundation poll found last week that Americans supported the legislation by a 46%-42% margin. The Economist published a poll showing that 53% supported the bill and 47% opposing it.

Today, CNN released a poll showing that will predictably be skewed by the right.  It found that 59% opposed the Senate health care bill and only 39% supported its passage.  Not a ringing endorsement, to be sure, but those numbers only tell half the story.

As we've been arguing for months, it's equally important (and more valuable) to ask why a poll's respondents oppose the bill.  If overwhelming majorities believed the bill was an example of big government run amok, it would serve the GOP's purposes to promote the poll's findings.

But that's not what the poll showed. Luckily, CNN did ask respondents for their reasoning behind their opposition to the bill.  They found that 13% of those polled opposed the bill because it was "not liberal enough."

This shows that 52% of Americans either support the current bill or wish it was even more "liberal" while 43% believe it is too liberal. 

That hardly reveals that a "vast majority of Americans opposed this monstrosity." In fact, it shows that Democratic leaders carefully threaded the needle of public opinion.  President Obama and Democrats in Congress successfully crafted a bill that is progressive enough for all but 13% of the country and falls well within the political mainstream, yet is still ambitious enough to deliver the much-needed change Americans desperately need.