Poll: Americans Support HHS Contraceptive Mandate

For the moment at least, it appears that the GOP is losing the debate over the contraceptive coverage mandate:

The close divide in a Senate vote Thursday over whether employers can refuse insurance coverage for contraception mirrors a sharp partisan divide among the public, according to a national poll and interviews with women around the country.

Over all, 63 percent of Americans said they supported the new federal requirement that private health insurance plans cover the cost of birth control, according to the survey of 1,519 Americans, conducted from Feb. 13 to Feb. 19 for the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. The poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.

While 8 in 10 Democrats said they supported requiring birth control coverage, only 4 in 10 Republicans did. Six in 10 people calling themselves independents voiced approval. Many Americans, in the survey and in independent interviews, expressed impatience with the focus on women’s reproductive issues in an era of economic distress.

It’s hard to tell, though, whether this will really end up hurting Republicans in the fall. According to the poll, 25% of respondents said that this could be an important issue for them in the fall, however that’s not exactly saying much. For one thing, the election is eight months away and public attention is likely to be focused on many other things between now and then. By the time voters walk into voting booths in November, the economy is still likely to be the number one issue. Unless, of course, the GOP decides to give the nomination to a culture warrior.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Neil Hudelson says:

    We are a nation of Slutty McSlut-Whores.

  2. Brummagem Joe says:

    These are almost exactly the same numbers that polls indicated when this controversy first erupted.

    According to the poll, 25% of respondents said that this could be an important issue for them in the fall, however that’s not exactly saying much


    Actually it could be saying quite a lot in closely contested elections. I bet it’s going to count in MA for example.

  3. michael reynolds says:

    @Neil Hudelson:
    God knows I try.

  4. Janis Gore says:

    I’d like the mandate better with a co-pay. But I’ve never worked as a cashier at Dollar General for a living.

  5. Janis Gore says:

    And sex toys.

  6. Dazedandconfused says:

    You guys no doubt remember the recent spate of writings on the association between conservative politics and squeamishness and I think we are seeing this played out yet again. The thought of unshaven, smelly, clot-passing, fetus-making, devouring, enslaving, female sexuality has the same effect on squeamish men as the idea of Gays doing the disgusting things they do.


  7. JohnMcC says:

    I expect Mr Mataconis is correct that this will not be the most significant issue for November voters. As a part of the background it might have the effect of continuing the trend that has been developing for several decades in which women tend to favor Dem presidential candidates in significant numbers. Which is amplified by the larger numbers of women than men who turn out on election days. So not a watershed but the acceleration of an meaningful trend.

  8. Janis Gore says:

    I think engaged women are less concerned about the mandate than these other initiatives popping up in the states. I’ve never seen anything like it.

  9. KariQ says:

    I don’t think engaged women are terribly moved by the controversy. The power of the issue was always with the unengaged, the marginal voter who may or may not turn out, who doesn’t think the parties are different and nothing is going to change. When they see one side going on an all-out attack on contraceptives (which is what it looks like, regardless of how often the GOP says they are talking about religion), that has the power to differentiate the parties in the minds of that type of voter.

    I agree that it is unlikely this will have much impact come November; since we no doubt will have pretty regular scandals-of-the-week between now and then, this will probably get lost. But if the issue should be revived at some point, it could motivate more of the marginal female voters than expected.

  10. Janis Gore says:

    Or solvency. How that translates into Betty Jo is going to throw this country into bankruptcy because she’s a slut escapes me.

  11. Garland says:

    I don’t quite get this. I did not realize that health insurance even covers birth control devices. When did this start? Come on, how much does a box of condums cost? What’s next – coverage for Viagra or some trash like that? Yet my health coverage doesn’t even pay for dental or laser surgery for vision!

  12. Nikki says:

    @Garland: Viagra is already covered. Some states already require employers to cover contraceptives. Oral contraceptives are more reliable than condoms.

    I don’t get attitudes like this. Folks have a problem with abortion, they have a problem with welfare. Birth control cuts all of that off at the knees (no pregnancy, no need for abortion; no child, no single motherhood). Make it even more readily available and affordable, there’s even less chance of the stuff folks don’t like. What is the frackin’ problem?

  13. Just nutha' ig'rant cracker says:

    @Janis Gore: It’s called “the slippery slope fallacy” for a reason, you know.

  14. de stijl says:

    @Janis Gore:

    I think engaged women are less concerned about the mandate than these other initiatives popping up in the states.

    I’m dense. It took me three read-throughs of your comment to figure out you weren’t talking about women who were engaged to be married.

  15. DRS says:

    What might cause this issue to particularly rankle with women is how many male commentators (and blog commenters, including a very few on this site) really don’t seem to get how the Pill works. It’s not a one-a-day multivitamin that you take at breakfast and it’s all over. The female plumbing requires ongoing maintenance – pap smears, watching for disrupted monthly cycles, heavier than usual bleeding, etc. It’s a major commitment, and can be very stressful if dosages have to be adjusted or suspended. And if it’s being taken for non-contraceptive reasons, the stress and the monitoring can be even more intrusive.

    It’s just amazing that Rush Limbaugh, a guy who’s with his fourth wife, apparently thinks you take the Pill everytime you have sex and not every day regardless of your sexual activities. Did none of those wives ever comment about contraceptive issues in front of him? Did he never ask questions (“Are you sure this stuff is gonna work?”) or was it all her problem? Did he never see the disk or the box in the medicine chest and look at it just our of curiosity?

  16. Janis Gore says:

    Aha. Did you read Conor Friedersdorf in the Atlantic?


    An antagonistic author of a book pulled this quote from Rushbo’s long history. I take it with a grain of salt:

    “My cat comes to me when she wants to be fed. I have learned this. I accept it for what it is. Many people in my position would think my cat’s coming to me because she loves me. Well, she likes me, and she is attached, but she comes to me when she wants to be fed. And after I feed her — guess what — she’s off to wherever she wants to be in the house, until the next time she gets hungry. She’s smart enough to know she can’t feed herself. She’s actually a very smart cat. She gets loved. She gets adoration. She gets petted. She gets fed. And she doesn’t have to do anything for it, which is why I say this cat’s taught me more about women than anything my whole life. But we put voices in their mouths.”