Hecklers impact public opinion on health reform

A new poll shows Americans are becoming more sympathetic to hecklers.
A new poll shows Americans are becoming more sympathetic to hecklers.

WASHINGTON, (NBC) - After two weeks of health care demonstrations and daily town hall disruptions in the news, Democrats seem to be losing ground on the reform debate.

A new USA Today poll finds 34% of Americans are now more sympathetic to the protesters' views, while 21% are less sympathetic. It's bad news for the White House.

They blame the bad numbers on misconceptions and misinformation. One misconception riling up crowds are the so-called "death panels" that some claim are part of reform.

That rumor was endorsed Wednesday by GOP Senator Chuck Grassley, who as a key negotiator on the bill, knows it's not true.  "We should not have a government program that determines when you're gonna pull the plug on grandma," he told supporters.

On Thursday Grassley said the provision for end-of-life counseling that started the rumors will be dropped.

The disruptions worry some in the GOP. "Republicans run the risk of overplaying their hand and they themselves being associated with very extreme charges and extreme rhetoric," explains former Bush advisor Dan Senor.

Obama strategist David Axelrod sent out a mass e-mail hoping to clarify some of the myths about reforms. It explains the current plan won't force you out of your current insurance plan or force you to change doctors.