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Poll: Most voters believe health care mandate is unconstitutional

By Kim Geiger, Tribune Washington Bureau –

WASHINGTON — Nearly two years after President Barack Obama signed his landmark health care package into law, three-quarters of registered voters believe the law’s requirement that every American carry health insurance is unconstitutional, according to a new survey.

A USA Today/Gallup poll taken earlier this month and released Monday found that a majority of voters — those surveyed in battleground states and nationwide generally — agreed in their dislike of the Affordable Care Act. Voters in battleground states are more likely to want it repealed, the poll showed.

Fifty-three percent of voters polled in battleground states — Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Virginia and Wisconsin — said they would favor repealing the law if a Republican is elected president in November. Nationwide, 40 percent said they would favor repeal.

A majority of voters — 50 percent nationwide and 53 percent in battleground states — consider the law a bad thing. The vast majority of voters feel the law has so far had no effect on them or their families, but more than 40 percent believe it will ultimately make things worse.

The results are disappointing news for Obama, whose re-election campaign counts enactment of the health care law as a signature achievement of his administration. And voters’ dislike of the law is likely to be revived next month when the Supreme Court hears arguments in a case challenging the constitutionality of the law.

The survey also polled voters on their general election preferences. Nationwide, Obama and Mitt Romney are tied in a hypothetical head-to-head matchup, with 47 percent each, according to the poll. Rick Santorum holds a 3 percentage point advantage with 49 percent compared to Obama’s 46 percent. Both results are within the sampling error of four percentage points.

Of a number of polls released Monday, the USA Today/Gallup survey painted the gloomiest picture for Obama. A Rasmussen tracking poll showed Obama leading Romney 45 percent to 43 percent and ahead of Santorum, 47 percent to 42 percent. A Politico/GWU/Battleground poll showed Obama leading Romney 53 percent to 43 percent and leading Santorum 53 percent to 42 percent.

It is not unusual for results to vary widely among different polls, as methodology and subject matter can skew results. For example, a recent polling experiment by Marquette University Law School found that the order of pollsters’ questions can impact respondents’ favorability toward a candidate. In that survey, Obama’s favorability was greater among respondents who were asked job-approval questions before being asked about the economy.

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