OBAMA MAINTAINS HEALTH CARE EDGE OVER GOP…. The debate over health care reform hasn’t done much to help anyone’s credibility in Washington, but a new Gallup poll still shows President Obama with a considerable edge over Congress, most notably Republicans in Congress.

Americans remain more confident in the healthcare reform recommendations of President Obama (49%) than in the recommendations of the Democratic (37%) or Republican (32%) leaders in Congress. […]

All in all, it appears that Obama remains the most influential political entity in terms of healthcare reform, albeit it at a time when neither he nor congressional leaders of either party can claim more than a 50% credibility level on this topic.

Given the Republicans’ recent preoccupation with polls — to hear the GOP tell it, lawmakers have a moral and political obligation to reject legislation that a narrow majority disapproves of — results like these from Gallup seem relevant. After a year of heated debate and an intense right-wing misinformation campaign, the public’s confidence in the president’s handling of this issue has fallen, but Obama is still 17 points stronger than Republicans.

The GOP has successfully undermined the president on health care, but if Republicans think this debate has improved their standing, they’re not paying attention.

As for other institutions, doctors enjoy the strongest public confidence (77%), which seems relevant given the fact that the American Medical Association has endorsed the Democratic reform plan.

Who did the very worst? Health insurance companies (26%) were dead last, four points behind congressional Republicans.

The GOP plan to defend and embrace the insurance industry probably wasn’t the best of political strategies.

Update: Chait asks the question the right way: “If there’s an upsurge of popular opposition to the health care plan because it’s too big, then why do 49% of Americans trust Obama to do the right thing on health care, and just 32% trust Republicans in Congress? If people are so repelled by Obamacare and big government, then why do they overwhelmingly trust him on this issue compared to the Republicans?”

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.