In the Senate, stem cell proponents figure that they have 66 to 67 votes lined up in support of the funding bill passed today in the House. As I previously noted, a number of options are on the table to overcome an anticipated Bush veto of the bill, but where does public opinion stand on the matter?
Back in the summer, when Bush vetoed a similar version of the bill, only 32% of the public in a NBC/Wall Street Journal poll favored the action. Asked slightly differently by Gallup, only 36% said they approved of the decision. More recently, in a poll released Jan. 4 by the Civil Society Institute, 63% of respondents say that if Bush vetoes this latest version of the bill, Congress should vote to overturn the president's action.
Public sentiment has shifted considerably from 2001, as I have noted in this Web column and as I detailed in this study. Consider that the surveys taken in the days and weeks after Bush's August 9 televised stem cell speech indicate that the president's compromise decision appears to have been received favorably by a majority of Americans, as the polls were fairly consistent in showing between 50 percent and 60 percent support (table 17).
An even bigger question is how will the public react if Bush carries through with a threatened veto of a bill mandating Medicare to negotiate drug prices with industry. I'd think that would be particularly unpopular in the public's eyes.