Opposition to federal health care reform has sharply declined in recent weeks, according to a new survey from polling company Rasmussen Reports.

The new Rasmussen health care poll found that 47 percent of respondents said they supported repeal of the health reform legislation, compared to 42 percent in favor of continuing to implement the program. This is far below the numbers found in earlier versions of the same Rasmussen poll, in which up to 63 percent of Americans said they believed health care reform should be repealed.

Rasmussen has come under fire in the past over allegations that its results are consistently skewed toward a conservative ideology. After the November elections, its pre-election polls were found to have put Republican candidates an average of nearly 4 percentage points above the vote tallies they ultimately received. This analysis includes the Hawaii Senate race (.pdf), where there was a 40-percentage-point difference between Rasmussen projections for a close race and actual results — incumbent Democrat Daniel Inouye coasted to victory.

If the new health care poll is an accurate barometer of public opinion regarding reform, it’s unclear what caused the sudden drop in opposition in the week between April 23 and 29. One possible answer lies in the U.S Supreme Court’s April 25 refusal to fast-track Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s legal challenge to health care reform. The public, to the extent that it was aware of the Court’s decision, may have taken it as a sign that “Obamacare” repeal is losing traction. The Rasmussen poll didn’t go into the details of why people’s opinions were starting to change.

A simpler answer, however, may just be that Rasmussen, despite those allegations of conservative bias, is merely getting closer to reality in its most recent poll than it has in the past. In January, an AP poll found that opposition and support for health care reform were on approximately equal footing among the American public.

Results then showed 40 percent of Americans in favor of continuing health care reform, a number in line with what Rasmussen has reported. But the same poll indicated that just 41 percent were opposed to health care reform, well below the 58 percent, the January high reported by Rasmussen. Meanwhile, the AP poll had just around one in four Americans saying they wanted outright repeal, a far cry from Rasmussen’s results.

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