A new USA Today/Gallup Poll finds that demonstrations at town hall sessions touting Obamacare are making folks more sympathetic to the protestors.
In the survey of 1,000 adults taken this week, 34 percent say demonstrations at the hometown sessions have made them more sympathetic to the protesters' views; 21 percent say they are less sympathetic.
Meanwhile, Independents by 2-to-1 — 35 percent-16 percent — say they are more sympathetic to the protesters now.
White House adviser David Axelrod debunked the survey's methodology, arguing that those who report being more sympathetic to the protesters were prone to have been on that side from the beginning.
"There is a media fetish about these things," Axelrod said of the protests, "but I don't think this has changed much" when it comes to public opinion.
In other poll findings: The forums have grabbed public attention: Seven in 10 respondents say they are following the news closely. A 57 percent majority of those surveyed, including six in 10 independents, say a major factor behind the protests are concerns that average citizens had well before the meetings took place; 48 percent say efforts by activists to create organized opposition to the healthcare bills are a major factor. There's some tolerance for loud voices: 51 percent say individuals making "angry attacks" on a healthcare bill are an example of "democracy in action" rather than "abuse of democracy." Some actions are seen as going too far. Six in 10 say shouting down supporters of a bill is an abuse of democracy. On that question, unlike most others, there isn't much of a partisan divide: 69 percent of Democrats and 58 percent of Republicans agree.
"No one condones the actions of those who disrupt public events," House Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio wrote in a recent USA Today op-ed. "But those in Washington who dismiss the frustration of the American people and call it 'manufactured' do so at their own peril."
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