News Interest Index: Health Care Debate Seen as 'Rude and Disrespectful'

News Interest Index: Health Care Debate Seen as 'Rude and Disrespectful'

With public and media attention focused on President Obama's Sept. 9 health care address to a joint session of Congress, Americans overwhelmingly cited the health care debate as their top story of the week. And when asked to evaluate the tone of the health care debate, a majority says it has been rude and disrespectful.

Fully 45% say the debate over health care reform was the story they followed most closely last week, far more than cite reports about swine flu (16%) or the condition of the U.S. economy (15%). Health care reform has been the dominant news story since late July, but it now has a 29-point advantage over the second most closely followed story, the widest margin measured by Pew Research Center surveys since the debate intensified early this summer. Health care reform also generated much more coverage than any other story last week.

Most Americans say the tone of the debate has been negative. According to the latest weekly News Interest Index survey, conducted September 11-14 among 1,003 adults by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, 53% say the tone of the debate over health care has been generally rude and disrespectful; 31% say it has been generally polite and respectful and 16% do not offer an opinion.

Among those who say the debate has been rude and disrespectful, most believe that opponents of the health care legislation under consideration are to blame. By a 59% to 17% margin, more blame opponents than supporters of the legislation; 17% volunteer that both groups are to blame.

There is disagreement between partisan groups when it comes to the tone of the debate, and – among those who say it has been rude – over who bears the blame for the negative tone. While a clear majority (65%) of Democrats say the debate has been rude and disrespectful, Republicans are more divided: 44% say it has been polite and respectful, while 40% say it has been rude and disrespectful. By a 53% to 31% margin, independents say the debate has been more rude than polite.

Read the full report Health Care Debate Seen as "Rude and Disrespectful" on the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press' Web site.

Spotlight on Mental Health

Composite image of modern city network communication concept

Learn the Basics of Broadband from Our Limited Series

Sign up for our four-week email course on Broadband Basics

Quick View

How does broadband internet reach our homes, phones, and tablets? What kind of infrastructure connects us all together? What are the major barriers to broadband access for American communities?

Pills illustration
Pills illustration

What Is Antibiotic Resistance—and How Can We Fight It?

Sign up for our four-week email series The Race Against Resistance.

Quick View

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria, also known as “superbugs,” are a major threat to modern medicine. But how does resistance work, and what can we do to slow the spread? Read personal stories, expert accounts, and more for the answers to those questions in our four-week email series: Slowing Superbugs.

Explore Pew’s new and improved
Fiscal 50 interactive

Your state's stats are more accessible than ever with our new and improved Fiscal 50 interactive:

  • Maps, trends, and customizable charts
  • 50-state rankings
  • Analysis of what it all means
  • Shareable graphics and downloadable data
  • Proven fiscal policy strategies

Explore

Welcome to the new Fiscal 50

Key changes include:

  • State pages that help you keep track of trends in your home state and provide national and regional context.
  • Interactive indicator pages with highly customizable and shareable data visualizations.
  • A Budget Threads feature that offers Pew’s read on the latest state fiscal news.

Learn more about the new and improved Fiscal 50.