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Americans Divided Over the Fate of Health Care Reform

I. Americans Are Divided Over Whether Supreme Court Should Overturn Health Care Law

Overall, a plurality (43%) of Americans oppose the Supreme Court overturning the recent health care law. Thirty-five percent favor this action by the Supreme Court, while 1-in-5 (21%) say they don’t know. Women are more likely than men to oppose the Supreme Court overturning the health care law (48% vs. 39%). A strong majority (63%) of black Americans oppose the Supreme Court overturning the recent health care reform law, while only 1-in-5 (20%) favor this action, and 15% say they don’t know. White Americans are nearly evenly divided, with 41% in favor of the Supreme Court overturning the health care law and 40% opposed.

There are substantial political divisions on this issue. A solid majority (61%) of Republicans favor the Supreme Court overturning the recent health care law, while about as many Democrats (62%) are opposed. Nearly half (47%) of Independents oppose the Supreme Court overturning the health care law, while one-third (33%) favor this action, and 1-in-5 (21%) say they don’t know. Over 7-in-10 (71%) Tea Party members favor the Supreme Court overturning the health care law, with 57% saying they would strongly favor this action. A majority (52%) of white evangelical Protestants favor the Supreme Court overturning the health care law. White mainline Protestants are more divided, with 44% in favor of the Supreme Court overturning the law, and 34% opposed. By contrast, nearly half (46%) of Catholics oppose the Supreme Court overturning the health care law, while 36% are in favor. A strong majority (60%) of minority Christians oppose the Supreme Court overturning the health care law.

II. Americans Support Federal Role in Health Care and Immigration Policy

Americans support a federal role in health care and immigration policy, but are more divided on whether abortion and same-sex marriage should be decided at the national level or the state level.

There is strong agreement among the public that immigration policy should be decided on the national level. Nearly 8-in-10 (77%) Americans say that immigration policy should be decided at the national level, while 1-in-5 (20%) say it should be left up to the states. Strong majorities of white Americans (75%) and black Americans (75%) and agree that immigration policy should be decided at the national level. Nearly  6-in-10 (57%) Americans agree that health care reform policy should be decided at the national level, while 39% say it should be decided at the state level.

Three-quarters (76%) of Democrats and 57% of Independents agree that health care reform policy should be decided at the national level. By contrast, a majority (56%) of Republicans say that health care reform policy should be decided at the state level. Around two-thirds of black Americans (67%) agree that health care reform policy should be decided at the national level. White Americans are more divided, with a slim majority (52%) agreeing that health care reform policy should be decided at the national level, while 43% say it should be decided on the state level.

A slim majority (53%) of Americans agree that laws about abortion should be decided at the national level, while over one-third (36%) believe that laws about abortion should be left to the states. Nearly 1-in-10 (9%) say that both the state and the federal government should play a role, or that neither should. Millennials (age 18-29) are significantly more likely than seniors (age 65 and up) to say that abortion laws should be decided at the national level (59% vs. 38%). Americans are divided on whether laws about same-sex marriage should be a state or national issue. A plurality (49%) agree that same-sex marriage should be decided at a national level, while 43% say that it should be left to the states.

III. Most Americans Aware of Obama's Support for Same-sex Marriage

Most Americans report knowing Obama’s support same-sex marriage and among those who do, a majority say they agree with it. Nearly three-quarters (72%) of Americans correctly report knowing that President Obama favors allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally. Of those Americans who are aware of Obama’s perspective on same-sex marriage, a slim majority (53%) say they approve of his position, while 43% disapprove.

Overall, a plurality of Americans (49%) favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally, compared to 44% who are opposed. Among religious groups, white evangelical Protestants are most likely to know that Obama supports same-sex marriage. They are also the only group where a majority of those who know Obama’s position also disapprove of it (78%).

IV. Most Americans Support the Dream Act

A majority of Americans support the basic tenets of the DREAM Act. Fifty-five percent of Americans agree that illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children should be able to gain legal resident status if they join the military or go to college, while 41% are opposed. Millennials (age 18-29) are significantly more likely than seniors (age 65 and up) to support the basic tenets of the DREAM Act (64% vs. 48%).