News Interest Index: Health Care Debate Back Atop Public's News Agenda

News Interest Index: Health Care Debate Back Atop Public's News Agenda

As Americans continue to track the debate over health care reform closely, a growing minority – now 39% – says they think health care legislation will pass this year. Just before the Feb. 25 bipartisan summit at the White House to discuss the stymied legislation, 27% said they thought a bill would pass in 2010.

In contrast, the latest News Interest Index survey, conducted March 5-8 among 1,017 adults by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, shows little change in perceptions of the tone of economic news. Two-thirds (66%) say they are hearing a mix of good and bad news about the economy; 30% say they are hearing mostly bad news. These numbers have fluctuated only slightly in recent months.

On health care, more than half (52%) still say they do not think a bill will pass this year, but that is down 10 points from just before the televised meeting of lawmakers from both parties and President Obama. Last week, Obama kept the focus on health care, pushing Congress to act quickly on Democrats' top legislative priority.

Three-in-ten Americans say they followed the debate over health care reform more closely than any other major story last week. The debate was also the most reported story of the week, making up 18% of the newshole, according to a separate analysis by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ). More than two-in-ten (22%) say they followed news about the earthquake in Chile most closely, while that story accounted for 10% of the newshole.

In contrast, the latest News Interest Index survey, conducted March 5-8 among 1,017 adults by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, shows little change in perceptions of the tone of economic news. Two-thirds (66%) say they are hearing a mix of good and bad news about the economy; 30% say they are hearing mostly bad news. These numbers have fluctuated only slightly in recent months.

On health care, more than half (52%) still say they do not think a bill will pass this year, but that is down 10 points from just before the televised meeting of lawmakers from both parties and President Obama. Last week, Obama kept the focus on health care, pushing Congress to act quickly on Democrats' top legislative priority.

Three-in-ten Americans say they followed the debate over health care reform more closely than any other major story last week. The debate was also the most reported story of the week, making up 18% of the newshole, according to a separate analysis by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ). More than two-in-ten (22%) say they followed news about the earthquake in Chile most closely, while that story accounted for 10% of the newshole.

Read the full report Health Care Debate Back Atop Public's News Agenda on the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press' Web site.

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