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Obama agenda: Unleash the polls!

Here's our write-up of the new NBC/WSJ poll: "Despite his public-relations blitz over the past two weeks to promote his plans to reform the nation's health-care system -- including holding two town halls on Wednesday -- President Barack Obama has lost ground on this issue with the American public... Pluralities now say that the president's health care plan is a bad idea, and that it will result in the quality of their care getting worse. What's more, just four in 10 approve of his handling on the issue."

Video: President Obama spent another day on the road Wednesday pushing a health care overhaul as Democrats in the House appeared to have settled on a compromise plan that they'll take to the floor for a vote. NBC's Savannah Guthrie reports.

Here's the Wall Street Journal's take: "Declining popularity of the health-care overhaul reflects rising anxiety over the federal budget deficit and congressional debate over the most contentious aspects of the legislation, including how to pay for it. The poll also shows concern over the role of government in determining personal medical decisions."

The CBS/New York Times poll, which shows Obama's approval rating at 58%: "Mr. Obama continues to benefit from strong support for the basic goal of revamping the health care system, and he is seen as far more likely than Congressional Republicans to have the best ideas to accomplish that. But reflecting a problem that has hindered efforts to bring major changes to health care for decades, Americans expressed considerable unease about what the end result would mean for them individually."

And here's Time's poll, which has the president's approval rating at 56%: "By significant margins, survey respondents said they believe the final health-reform legislation is likely to raise health-care costs in the long run (62%), make everything about health care more complicated (65%) and offer less freedom to choose doctors and coverage (56%)."

But: "At the same time, survey respondents remain dissatisfied with the current state of health-care delivery and supportive of reform in principle. Forty-six percent of respondents said it was "very important" that Congress and the President pass major health reform in the next few months, and an additional 23% said it was "somewhat important." Only 28% found the immediate effort either not very or not at all important. In a separate question, more Americans said it would be better to pass "major reform" to health care (55%) rather than "minor adjustments" (43%)." 


 Many Republicans are continuing to push the idea that President Obama's healthcare plan is going to "kill people." Is there any lower political tactic than trying to terrify the elderly with death? Democratic National Committee chairman Gov. Tim Kaine, D-VA, joins Rachel Maddow.

Meanwhile, the Boston Globe looks at the breadth of health-care ads out there, how much is being spent, and how they appeal to emotions on both sides. "The healthcare overhaul fight in Washington is bursting into America's livingrooms, and interests from many bands on the political spectrum are trying to transform an often wonky debate over 1,000-page bills into an emotional pitch that can be captured in 30 seconds." And: "It could prove to be the most expensive issue-oriented advertising effort in history, with nearly $15 million a week already being spent on focused spots." 

Are Americans are too dumb to understand the health-care debate? Politico's McGrane and Lerer: "It may go too far to say that Americans are too dumb to understand concepts like 'bending the cost curve.' Or too preoccupied by 'America's Got Talent' to decide whether 'evidence-based medicine' is a euphemism for rationing. But all sides of the debate are facing the same essential challenge: How to boil down arguments that flummox even veteran legislators into simple appeals that will engage an easily distracted, easily flustered electorate."