Poll: Many in 1st Congressional District oppose GOP health care plan

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Frank Schultz
Friday, March 17, 2017

JANESVILLE—A lot of Rep. Paul Ryan's constituents don't like the new Republican health care plan, according to a poll commissioned by an organization dedicated to removing the House speaker from office.

The poll shows 46 percent of respondents from the 1st Congressional District oppose the new plan, while 37 percent support it.

Sixteen percent were unsure.

Ryan has been working hard in recent weeks to sell the plan, which would fulfill a GOP promise to replace the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare.

The Congressional Budget Office recently issued its assessment, saying 14 million people would lose health coverage in the first year of the GOP plan, 24 million by 2026.

The poll was done March 9 and 10 by Public Policy Polling, a well-known pollster that works for Democrats.

Paying for the poll was Stop the Speaker PAC, which is also responsible for anti-Ryan billboards seen around Janesville.

The PAC, which filed its papers with the Federal Elections Commission in November, is based in Oak Creek.

Susan Johnson, associate professor of political science at UW-Whitewater, said the organization that pays for the poll is less important than the methodology.

Johnson rated Public Policy Polling as “relatively well respected.”

She used the word “relatively” because of its Democratic leanings. She would prefer a nonpartisan poll, such as the Marquette Law School Poll.

Ryan campaign spokesman Zack Roday issued this statement in response to the poll: “Time and time again, Paul Ryan's employers in the 1st Congressional District have re-elected him because they support his efforts to keep fighting on their behalf. This is an honor and a responsibility he takes seriously.”

Other poll results are listed below. Percentages of “unsure” responses are not shown.

-- 49 percent had a favorable opinion of Ryan, 44 percent unfavorable, in contrast to Ryan's win in November with 65 percent of the vote.

-- 83 percent said Ryan should continue holding “town hall” meetings with district residents. Eleven percent said he shouldn't.

Ryan's office has responded to criticisms about a lack of town halls with these facts about his accessibility: Ryan gave more than 100 interviews with Wisconsin press in 2016 and early 2017, and he has responded to 26,000 constituent emails and letters. He has helped more than 70,000 constituents with problems with federal agencies since he took office and has held more than 650  town halls since taking office.

-- Ryan's “refusal to hold” town halls made 43 percent less likely to vote for him, 8 percent more likely, and 48 percent said it doesn't make a difference.

-- 55 percent opposed taking away funding “for essential health care services like birth control and cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood health centers in Racine, Kenosha and Delavan.” Thirty-seven percent supported it.

Ryan and other Republicans have called for moving the Planned Parenthood money to “federal community health centers.”

A nationwide poll by Morning Consult and Politico this week found 46 percent of voters approve of the GOP health care proposal and more than the 35 percent disapprove, with 19 percent having no opinion.

-- 77 percent said Medicare and Social Security should be protected and strengthened. Eleven percent favored expanding the programs. Eight percent said they should be cut.

-- 50 percent had a favorable opinion of President Donald Trump, 47 percent unfavorable.

-- 62 percent opposed proposed cuts to funding to clean up the Great Lakes. Twenty-five percent supported the proposal.

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