March 31st, 2014
12:38 PM ET
8 months ago

Five things polling tells us about Obamacare

Washington (CNN) - It's deadline day for Obamacare.

Monday's the last day of open enrollment to sign up for health insurance and avoid a penalty, through exchanges set up as part the federal health care law, formally known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

While there are sharp political disagreements over the measure, one thing's for sure: there has been more polling on the 2010 law than any other legislation in recent years. And the measure should be a major issue in the 2014 midterm elections, just as it was in the 2010 midterms and the 2012 presidential contest.

More trouble for healthcare.gov on deadline day

Here are five things that public opinion polling tells us about the law.

1. Obamacare remains unpopular: Just about every national poll indicates that more Americans disapprove of the law than support the measure. According to the most recent survey, conducted just over a week ago by CBS News, 53% of Americans gave the law a thumbs down, compared to 41% saying they approve of the Affordable Care Act.

Other polls conducted earlier this month had similar results. By a 53% to 43% margin, voters in a George Washington University/Battleground survey oppose the law. By a 46% to 38% margin, Americans questioned in a Kaiser Family Foundation poll said they had an unfavorable view of Obamacare. Fifty-three percent of adults nationwide surveyed in a Pew Research Center poll said they disapproved of the law, with 41% saying they supported it.

And according to a CNN/ORC International survey, 57% of adults nationwide oppose the measure, compared to 39% supporting it.

This lack of support for the law is nothing new. While the numbers have rebounded a bit since last fall's disastrous roll out of healthcare.gov, overall the measure has been unpopular with many Americans dating back to the first debates over the legislation in 2009.

Monday afternoon, a new ABC News/Washington Post poll indicated that 49% of Americans supported the law, with 48% opposed. The uptick in support for the measure since January came from a double digit increase in backing from Democrats.

2. Unpopularity doesn't equal support for repeal: Just as most national polling indicates that more people disapprove than approve of Obamacare, the surveys also are clear that more people want to keep rather than scrap the Affordable Care Act.

Nearly six in ten in the Kaiser study said Congress should work to improve the measure or keep it the way it currently stands. Just under three in ten advocated repealing the law or replacing it with a Republican-backed plan.

A majority of the 53% in the Pew poll who said they disapprove of the law still said they wanted to make the measure work. Just over half of those questioned in a Bloomberg national poll said Obamacare may need small modifications, but "we should see how it works.” Thirteen percent said the law should be left alone, while just over a third advocated repealing the law.

And according to the CNN poll, 39% said they opposed the law because it is too liberal, but 12% said they opposed it because it's not liberal enough. That means roughly half the public either favor Obamacare or want something that goes even further.

3. Some parts of the law are popular: It's the ultimate paradox. Overall, Obamacare remains mostly unpopular with the public, but many Americans give a thumbs up to most specific parts of the Affordable Care Act that have been tested in surveys .

The Bloomberg poll was the most recent study to ask about the law's specific components, and its findings are similar to what previous surveys have found. Nearly three-quarters questioned in that survey said the provision that allowed children up to age 26 to remain on their parents' policies should be kept. Nearly two-thirds said the same thing about the component that prohibits insurance companies from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions.

A majority also wanted to keep the provision eliminating lifetime caps on how much insurance companies must pay for a person's health care.

But by a slight 51% to 47% margin, Americans wanted to repeal the individual mandate, which forces everyone to have health insurance or face penalties.

Democrats defending the overall law tout the popularity of many of the specific provisions.

"Even if you choose not to use the exchanges at all, you stand to benefit from the Affordable Care Act," wrote Democratic strategist Paul Begala in an op-ed Monday on CNN.com.

"If you or someone in your family has a pre-existing condition, you are a winner under the ACA. Ditto if, God forbid, you have an illness or an accident that would have maxed-out your pre-Obamacare coverage limit: the ACA outlaws coverage caps," added Begala, a longtime adviser to both Bill and HIllary Clinton, who's also an adviser to Priorities USA, the super PAC set up to support Obama's 2012 re-election that's now raising money for a potential Hillary Clinton campaign in 2016.

4. Voter intensity over the law benefits the GOP: Opposition to Obamacare, which was passed into law in the spring of 2010, when the Democrats controlled by the Senate and the House of Representatives, was a factor in the Republican wave that November. The GOP took back control of the House, thanks to a historic 63-seat pick up, and trimmed the Democrats’ majority in the Senate.

The law also was a major issue in President Barack Obama's 2012 re-election victory over Republican nominee Mitt Romney. The Democrats picked up seats in the Senate and House in that election.

Just over half of those questioned in the Bloomberg poll say that candidates' opinions about the health care law will be a major issue in how they decide whom to vote for in November, with one in five saying it will be a minor factor and just under a quarter saying Obamacare won't affect their vote at all.

Forty-seven percent of respondents in the most recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey said they would most likely support a congressional candidate who advocated repealing the health care law, compared to 45% saying they would most likely back a candidate who called for keeping and fixing the measure.

Likewise, the poll indicated that 48% would be more likely to back a Democratic candidate who supports fixing and keeping the law, versus 47% saying they would be more likely to support a GOP candidate who advocates repealing and eliminating the measure.

While overall Americans are split, the NBC/Wall Street Journal survey indicated that intensity over the law is helping the GOP at the moment. And in a traditionally low turnout midterm election where getting out a party's base is crucial, the numbers right now appear to give the Republicans an advantage.

"This data pretty clearly shows that even though attitudes regarding the ACA are ‘baked in’ with voters (68% feel strongly one way or another about the issue), the intensity is clearly on the negative side, as GOP voters clearly dislike the new law more than Democrats are in love with it," said GOP pollster Neil Newhouse, a co-founder of Public Opinion Strategies, which along with the Democratic Hart Research Associates conducted the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll.

"In a lower turnout mid-term election like 2014, that gives the GOP a significant initial advantage. Their voters will be easier to motivate and get to the polls than the Democrats," added Newhouse, a top pollster for Romney's 2012 presidential campaign.

The new ABC News/Washington Post all also indicated an intensity advantage for opponents of the law: 36% said they strongly opposed Obamacare, compared to 25% who said they strongly backed the Affordable Care Act.

5. Health care fatigue: It was one of the most eye popping numbers from the Kaiser study: 53% said they were tired of hearing about the debate over Obamacare and that it was time to move on to other issues. Just over four in ten said it was important for the health care debate to continue.

Even Republicans were split on the issue, as were those who gave the law a thumbs down. That finding may prove troubling to some Republicans as the GOP continues to frame the midterm elections as a referendum on the President - whose approval ratings remain in the low to mid 40s – and his signature domestic achievement.

"To date, most Americans have been personally unaffected by the new health care law," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "But nearly everyone has been affected by the economy. If the GOP spends too much time talking about health care, it might wind up leaving the impression that they are attempting to dodge questions about their economic policy."

Grading Obamacare


Filed under: 2014 • CNN poll • CNN/ORC International poll • CNN/ORC poll • Health care • Healthcare • Obamacare • Polls
soundoff (177 Responses)
  1. ALLuh

    Sooooo, what's the GOP plan? hhahahahaha, oh yeah, health care only for the rich.

    March 31, 2014 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  2. Rudy NYC

    "Yeah, my employer pulled this same trick. They kept the cost the same if I divulged a lot of personal medical information and personal habits. If I did this, the 19% increase in cost would not occur. But next year I'm sure this same trick will not be played and I'll get nailed with that 19% and another 10-20% on top of that."
    ---------------------–
    Personal information. You mean like, are you a smoker, or does someone in your household smoke? Nasty habit. The cigarrettes cost more than the premium increase. Smokers should pay more. They should check for alcoholism, too.

    Blaming every increase in premiums on the ACA is not only misleading, but it is very dishonest. Rates have been increasing since the beginning of time. Your rates would increase with or without the ACA. In fact, rates have been increasing at a measureably smaller rate since the ACA was enacted.

    March 31, 2014 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  3. Larry L

    Voters want the provisions of the law that make rates high – pre-existing conditions, no lifetime cap, and kids up to 26 staying on their parents insurance. Voters do not want the one provision that makes these provisions possible – the mandate to get insurance. Those with the ability to understand the math support the ACA. Those who don't understand the impact of the uninsured on costs, and can't compute the outcome of 7-10% increases in healthcare costs per year will tend to want the good provisions but not the mandate.

    March 31, 2014 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  4. Malory Archer

    "Just under three in ten advocated repealing the law or replacing it with a Republican-backed plan."

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    In other words, seventy percent of Americans DON'T "Obamacare" repealed, or heaven forbid, "replaced" by a non-existent repug plan (sorry, permitting sales of insurance "across state lines" or "health savings plans" (how much of your $$$ will go to administrative fees?) are meaningless junk.

    March 31, 2014 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  5. goblackhawks

    website is down yet again today ...Wait til the healthcare system is down and wait times increase and doctors retire .. way to go DEMS .. Where is the story about the website being down yet again today ?

    March 31, 2014 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  6. Malory Archer

    CALIFORNIA

    More people have lost their insurance than have gained insurance.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Only in red states where the reds have REFUSED to even start up an exchange – and that's by design.

    March 31, 2014 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  7. ED1

    1. Failure
    2. Failure
    3. Failure
    4. failure
    5. Waste of tax payers money again

    March 31, 2014 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  8. 1776usa2016

    Universal healthcare coverage

    OR

    Single-payer is what is needed.

    And eventually it will be shown that even the current ACA that still uses insurance-company middlemen is unsustainable.

    .

    March 31, 2014 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  9. Malory Archer

    Anonymous

    Yeah, my employer pulled this same trick. They kept the cost the same if I divulged a lot of personal medical information and personal habits. If I did this, the 19% increase in cost would not occur. But next year I'm sure this same trick will not be played and I'll get nailed with that 19% and another 10-20% on top of that.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    And if that doesn't happen next year, you're certain it'll happen the year after that, or maybe the year after that, or the year after that. Or maybe you've been listeining to those who want it to fail for so long that you've come to take speculation as gospel.

    March 31, 2014 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  10. jason

    Republicans believe in personal responsibility ....other persons are responsible for their well being. They love to use emergency care and let others pay for it. Just like most RED welfare states get more back in taxes than they actually pay. ACA might not be the best case scenario but is definitely a good start. The irony is the GOP will never be able to repeal it

    March 31, 2014 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  11. CALIFORNIA

    Malory Archer
    CALIFORNIA

    More people have lost their insurance than have gained insurance.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Only in red states where the reds have REFUSED to even start up an exchange – and that's by design.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Please continue your Obamacare lies and follow Obama right off the cliff. "LIE OF THE YEAR" award.

    March 31, 2014 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  12. JohnRJohnson

    Five years of anti-Obamacare propaganda has taken a toll. The fact is, misinformation works. It started with the "death panels" and has widened to include testimony by people who have allegedly been hurt by the law. Nearly all of those statements have been completely debunked, but the damage has been done.

    March 31, 2014 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  13. Lynda/Minnesota

    @ Rudy:

    "Personal information. You mean like, are you a smoker, or does someone in your household smoke? Nasty habit."
    --–

    Ouch, Rudy. Just ouch. [ and so true ]

    March 31, 2014 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  14. RudyNYC is a dumb twat

    Personal information. You mean like, are you a smoker, or does someone in your household smoke? Nasty habit. The cigarrettes cost more than the premium increase. Smokers should pay more. They should check for alcoholism, too.

    Blaming every increase in premiums on the ACA is not only misleading, but it is very dishonest. Rates have been increasing since the beginning of time. Your rates would increase with or without the ACA. In fact, rates have been increasing at a measureably smaller rate since the ACA was enacted.

    -----------------

    What about personal information like age? How should we underwrite the young insured?

    March 31, 2014 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  15. woobles

    There's good in Obamacare? When did that happen? All the people who seem to think Obamacare is awesome DON'T HAVE IT. Typical ivory tower elitism there. "It's awesome!"....as long as someone else has it. $12,000 deductible? Can't go to most doctors? Can't go to many hospitals? Better not get cancer cause you caqn't go to a cancer treatment center? Yeah. Sure. It's totally "awesome"...as long as YOU don't have it.

    March 31, 2014 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  16. The REAL Truth...

    @CALIFORNIA –
    Malory Archer
    CALIFORNIA

    More people have lost their insurance than have gained insurance.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Only in red states where the reds have REFUSED to even start up an exchange – and that's by design.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Please continue your Obamacare lies and follow Obama right off the cliff. "LIE OF THE YEAR" award.
    -------------------------–
    The GOP loves folks that fall for the LIES they have spread about ACA since the implementation of the conservative health plan. And yes, Malory Archer is correct about exchanges in red states... the whole premise behind lowering costs (the you will save $2500) would have been close had those states implemented exchanges.. It WAS a deliberate move to cause ACA to fail.. don't be naive!

    March 31, 2014 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  17. Silence DoGood

    @Malory Archer
    CALIFORNIA
    More people have lost their insurance than have gained insurance.
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Only in red states where the reds have REFUSED to even start up an exchange – and that's by design.
    --------
    Most of the people the right wingers are claiming "lost" insurance were switched to other policies.
    When I am up for a new cell phone, I trade up. I guess you could say I "lost" my old phone but that is deceptive. You know like a white-lie, half truth, deception, misdirection, sham, loose thinking that the "moral" right is all about.
    But California, you just keep spreading the lie and clutching your security blanket. Progress are not going away.

    March 31, 2014 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  18. grace

    All I know is that I used to have healthcare and now I don't. My plan doesn't exist anymore, and the most similar plan is more than double what I was paying before (went from $220 a month to nearly $500 a month).

    Moreover I can't even get on the website to browse plans, because everytime I click the Browse Plans button I get a pop-up saying this feature is not working yet and to call them... and when you call them all they want to do is get you off the phone.. Such a mess.

    March 31, 2014 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  19. DaveinJersey

    It is very difficult to read the mindless drabble from the Obama drones here. ObamaCare is a failure, not because we Americans want it to fail – its just failing on its own. The GOP (Americans) played this right. It has been delayed 38 times, changed, updated, website down, security issues and a majority of Americans not wanting it.. How is that a success story? The Dems and libfools will see just how much a failure this disaster ObamaCare is in about 8 months now.. When we Amewricans take back the Senate and impeach this incompetent fool – Oh, and repeal this trainwreck disaster ObamaCare.

    March 31, 2014 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  20. Silence DoGood

    @JohnRJohnson
    Five years of anti-Obamacare propaganda has taken a toll. The fact is, misinformation works. It started with the "death panels" and has widened to include testimony by people who have allegedly been hurt by the law. Nearly all of those statements have been completely debunked, but the damage has been done.
    ----------
    Death Panels, Hannity false witnesses and lies, Rush L. rumors, Obama's religion, birthers. What is next? Is Conspiracy Theories all the radical right has now?

    March 31, 2014 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  21. jony3322

    Either Democratic or Republican, you must get your b.. out to vote. Don't waste your rights!!!

    March 31, 2014 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  22. Eric

    The liberal media hopes it will not be repealed! But it will be repealed and we will laugh in your face when it is!

    March 31, 2014 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  23. Rudy NYC

    ED1

    1. Failure
    2. Failure
    3. Failure
    4. failure
    5. Waste of tax payers money again
    -----------------------
    Get busy. You still have a long way to go before you reach the more than 50 FAILED votes to repeal the ACA.

    March 31, 2014 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  24. Byron

    Actually, up to this point it has been 'health insurance' fatigue. Bottom line is costs are very unlikely to go down without a reduction in health care. There is the idea that forcing everyone to have insurance will cost us less but the old system already had the cost of uninsured built into the system so I don't see that happening. It is possible to better hide the true cost of this program as there are so many added taxes and penalties and alterations it is near impossible to truly get to those numbers. Perhaps the worse part of this will be who will be there to protect the health consumer when the government has a vested interest to see the safety of the program as opposed the safety of the consumer. Humans are humans are humans tend to protect themselves first and everyone else next. Government being involved causes those in government to ...say things are working fine when they are not or give us misleading information. Case in point, if Insurance company said we could keep our doctors and it was found they lied, the government would be there to protect us in order they receive votes to keep their job. As we see here, governments self-protection mode simply means they move on to giving more misleading info rather than less. That is why it is better to retain government as a protector of the consumer and not a servicer of the consumer.

    March 31, 2014 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  25. Dems in PA

    It’s a given they did not get enough health people to sign up, so just after the November election Obama will move (but not inform) the teachers and auto workers unions to Democratic Health Care (obamacare). And there will not be a thing the unions can do about it after the election.

    March 31, 2014 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
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