Many Marylanders still optimistic about health care reform, poll finds

Obama cartoon By Len Lazarick

Almost half of Marylanders still think the new health care law will have a positive impact on the quality of health care in Maryland, a new Goucher poll found. But only half of those surveyed said they had heard of the website, the state’s access portal for health insurance.

The respondents also believed the insurance companies were the most prepared to handle the implementation of the health insurance reform and the federal government was the least prepared.

The poll was conducted by the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center at Goucher College in Towson Oct. 27-31, contacting 665 Maryland residents by land line and cell phone. It has a margin of error of 3.8%. Unlike other public polls released to the media, such as the Gonzales Research poll, the Goucher center surveys residents regardless of whether they are registered or likely voters.

 Avoided the terms Affordable Care Act and Obamacare

Professor Mileah Kromer, director of the Hughes Center, said she deliberately avoided using the terms Affordable Care Act or Obamacare, because national polling has shown that the terms themselves affect the results. People like the Affordable Care Act, but they hate Obamacare, even though both terms refer to the same health care law.

Kromer noted that the she was a little surprised at the lack of recognition for the website “despite Maryland’s status as an ‘early adopter,’ advertisements during Ravens games, and a catchy commercial.”

“However, it does appear residents in the state are cautiously optimistic that the new health care law will have a positive impact on health care here in Maryland,” she said.

Kromer was not surprised by results on who was most prepared to implement the new law, given the widespread reporting on the problems with the federal website.

In the poll, only 17% said the federal government was prepared to handle the new law, 28% said Maryland citizens were prepared, 33% thought the state of Maryland was prepared, and 45% thought the insurance companies were prepared.

Polls cartoonObama still relatively popular, Congress is definitely not

In response to other questions, 57% had a favorable opinion of President Obama, but a whopping 91% disapproved of “the way Congress is handling its job.”

Opinions on the Tea Party were fairly strong, with 41% of Marylanders having a “very unfavorable” view and another 23% with a just “unfavorable” view. About 19% didn’t have an opinion.

Asked to think back about their current financial situation, slightly more people (28%) said they were worse off than a year ago, and 45% said they were about the same. Looking ahead, 47% expected their financial situation to get better in the next year, about the same it was in a poll Goucher took last October.

Goucher gives detailed methodology

Unlike other public opinion polls released to the media, Kromer describes a very detailed methodology about how and when the poll was conducted by her own staff of “professional trained, paid student interviewers.”

“The Goucher Poll seeks to improve public discourse in the state by providing neutral and nonbiased information on citizen perceptions and opinions,” Kromer says. “The data collected by the Goucher Poll are used to support faculty and student research.”

Here’s how she describes the methodology:

“To ensure all Maryland citizens are represented, the Goucher Poll is conducted using random digit dialing (RDD) of a stratified random sample using landline and cellular telephone numbers.

The sample of telephone numbers for the survey is obtained from Survey Sampling International, LLC (

The survey was conducted Sunday, Oct. 27, to Thursday, Oct. 31. During this time, interviews were conducted 1-9 p.m. on Sunday and 5-9 p.m. Monday through Thursday. The Goucher Poll uses Voxco Computer-Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI) software to administer its surveys….

Interviewers attempted to reach respondents with working phone numbers a maximum of five times. Only Maryland adults—residents aged 18 years or older—were eligible to participate.

Interviews were not conducted with adults who were reached at business or work numbers. For each landline number reached, one adult from that household was selected on the basis of being the oldest or youngest adult in that residence. Thirty-eight percent of the interviews were conducted on a cell phone, and 62 percent were conducted on a landline.”

Kromer said using this methodology produces a fairly accurate representation of the Maryland population by age, sex, race, party affiliation and residence.