The skepticism among whites is most concentrated among whites without a college degree. Just one-in-seven of them believe health care reform will personally benefit them or their family. Among college whites about one-in-four expect to personally benefit from the reform.
Gallup Polling in March 2010 found that while few whites expected to personally benefit from the law, a majority of them believed it would benefit low-income families and those without health insurance. That suggested they viewed health care reform primarily as a welfare program that would help the needy but not their own families. Kaiser didn't replicate that question in their latest survey, but it may have detected an echo of that sentiment in the finding that twice as many whites believed the law would benefit children than thought it would help their own family.
These attitudes are laced with two large ironies-and one significant political consequence. One irony is that non-college whites are uninsured at much higher rates than those with degrees; for that reason, the law would personally benefit far more of them than the college-educated whites who are somewhat more open to it. The other irony is that important Democratic strategists have long viewed a program expanding access to health care insurance as a key to combating the widespread sense among whites, particularly those in the working class, that government only takes their money and redistributing it to the poor, without offering any tangible assistance in their own often economically-precarious lives.
Instead, as the latest Kaiser Poll shows, the targets of that effort remain entirely unconvinced that the law will benefit them. Rather than ameliorating their skepticism that government will defend their interests, it appears to have only intensified it. And that in turn has placed another brick on the load Obama is carrying with white working class voters, who appear poised in polls to reject him at levels no Democratic presidential nominee has experienced since 1984.