May 11th, 2014
09:00 AM ET
2 months ago

CNN Poll: Should Obamacare be kept or repealed?

Washington (CNN) - A majority of Americans want to keep the federal health care law as is, or make some changes to improve it, according to a new national poll.

But a CNN/ORC International survey released Sunday also indicates public attitudes have been largely unaffected by news that 8 million people have enrolled in health insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare.

Read the full CNN/ORC International results

Despite a victory lap by the White House following the release of that number, only 12% of Americans surveyed consider the law a success. Nearly half say it’s too soon to tell, and just under four in 10 consider it a failure.

According to the poll, 61% want Congress to leave the Affordable Care Act alone (12%) or make some changes to the law in an attempt to make it work better (49%).

Thirty-eight percent of those questioned say the law should be repealed and replaced with a completely different system (18%) or say the measure should be repealed, with Americans going back to the system in place before the law was implemented (20%).

Two other surveys conducted earlier this year – Kaiser Family Foundation in April and National Public Radio in March – also indicated majority support for keeping and improving the law. Two others, (NBC News/Wall Street Journal in April and ABC News/Washington Post in March), suggested Americans were divided on whether to keep the measure or repeal it.

As expected, there is a wide partisan divide, with nearly nine in 10 Democrats saying the law should be kept as is, or improved. That number drops to 55% among independents and 38% among Republicans. More than six in 10 Republicans want the measure repealed.

"Your feelings about the law are influenced by your station in life," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "There is general support for the law among young people and among people who are approaching retirement age. Support for repeal is higher among people between 35 and 49 years old, and highest among senior citizens, who are roughly split on what Congress should do."

Battle over Obamacare

Opposition to the law, approved in spring 2010 when the Democrats controlled the Senate and the House, was a factor in the Republican wave that November. The GOP took back the House following a historic 63-seat pick up, and trimmed the Democratic majority in the Senate.

The measure was also a major issue in President Barack Obama's 2012 re-election victory over Republican nominee Mitt Romney. Democrats picked up seats in the Senate and House in that election. And the measure is in the spotlight again in this year's midterm elections, as Republicans make their opposition to the law a centerpiece of their campaign.

Last autumn's disastrous roll out of the HealthCare.gov website was a top story for months. Even though things have improved, the poll indicates 47% say the problems facing the new law will not be solved, with 51% optimistic things will eventually be fixed.

The poll was conducted for CNN on May 2-4 by ORC International, with 1,008 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's for questions regarding the Democratic and GOP presidential nominations is plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

soundoff (446 Responses)
  1. Mel Stricker

    Think about the freedom of worry you have. If you are ever laid off or are so ill you cannot go back to work, you know your family has medical coverage. My niece and her husband lost their jobs when their company went out of business. They have a young child (a toddler at the time) and no medical coverage. They were without coverage for a year before her husband was employed again and even then, the cost of coverage through this employer was so high they could not afford to cover all 3. My niece is now employed so they are now all covered. They were lucky that nothing serious happened.

    How can freedom of worry be bad?

    May 12, 2014 03:16 am at 3:16 am |
  2. S. Dabby

    To Earthshoes 22:

    It sounds like a higher minimum wage would help your family income. And as you state, you would benefit if your state expanded its medicade program.

    You sound like to poster child for progressive government. Do you plan to vote for the Republicans at the next election?

    May 12, 2014 03:38 am at 3:38 am |
  3. John

    The majority of Americans want to keep Obamacare as it is huh? Does that include all the delays, exemptions and waivers? Has this "majority" even read the 2,000+ pages of the bill? It's not even fully implemented yet. Talk about making UNINFORMED decisions. But then again, that's what Americans are best at.

    May 12, 2014 03:41 am at 3:41 am |
  4. Stop wasting time

    Wow, nearly 40% of Republicans don't want the law repealed...

    May 12, 2014 03:45 am at 3:45 am |
  5. Stop wasting time

    Wow, nearly 80% of Americans don't want to go back to the old system...

    May 12, 2014 03:46 am at 3:46 am |
  6. unaffordablecareact

    People do not need insurance to pay for their medical care. What they need is for the doctors and hospital administrators, as well as those who run medical supply companys, to be held accountable criminally for the price gouging and medicare fraud they have committed over the last two plus decades. They charge dozens to hundreds of times what they need to, for all of their services and merchandise. You should only need medical insurance to cover catastrophic proceedures and treatments, and none of those should cost more than 10 or 12 thousand dollars.

    May 12, 2014 04:09 am at 4:09 am |
  7. Winston5

    1 in 5 want to go back to the old system...no Immigration bill this year...and the RNC is confident about 2014??!!?

    May 12, 2014 04:15 am at 4:15 am |
  8. tonythecableguy

    Rick Santorum had his chance to promote the Republican health Plan in front of the American people. Yet again they blew their chance. Watching the article all I heard him do is say is That they would promote their plan and make changes. OK, What is their plan? Repeal it? Take coverage away from people with Pre existing conditions? I think that he has been very discrete about what they want to do. Cause they have no plan.

    May 12, 2014 04:19 am at 4:19 am |
  9. Tony in Stl

    I'm still not sure how this got so hard. The law is the law. 50+ times at a repeal, is just plain dumb! Opportunity still exists to make it better, ...like adding the "public option". The media has been quick to "poll slam" the ACA, but never seems to tell the whole story. Maybe things are changing...

    May 12, 2014 04:52 am at 4:52 am |
  10. IndyMike

    The government can't run the VA health care system so what makes Americans think they can run ACA?

    May 12, 2014 04:52 am at 4:52 am |
  11. Dude

    One thing to consider when reading this poll is the sheer size and scope of the campaign against it.

    Coverage for end of life counseling, already part of most decent insurance, is now a requirement for health insurance. Republicans spent some serious money to convince people this meant "death panels" with the right to deny medicine to anyone they deemed terminal. Sadly, many of the detractors still believe this is true.

    Many of the people against the ACA agreed with all or almost all of the points in the bill. When ask "if we put all these together as a package would you approve or disapprove?", many approved.

    The real problem is that they spent so much money and effort to brand the bill Obamacare, that they cannot risk it being successful. As more people understand what it really is, the approval will go up. And it is too late for the Republicans to claim any credit for it.

    May 12, 2014 04:52 am at 4:52 am |
  12. Sinking GOP!!

    Look at all the Republicans panicking!! They said it would fail, and now it is picking up right along, just nicely! The spin game is on, and the Republicans are sinking. Whats funny Republicans supported an individual mandate Robert Bennett [R-UT], Christopher Bond [R-MO], David Boren [D-OK], William Cohen [R-ME], John Danforth [R-MO], Robert Dole [R-KS], Pete Domenici [R-NM], David Durenberger [R-MN], Duncan Faircloth [R-NC], Slade Gorton [R-WA], Charles Grassley [R-IA], Orrin Hatch [R-UT], Mark Hatfield [R-OR], Nancy Kassebaum [R-KS], Robert Kerrey [D-NE], Richard Lugar [R-IN], Alan Simpson [R-WY], Arlen Specter [R-PA], Ted Stevens [R-AK], John Warner [R-VA].
    And then there was the Consumer Choice Health Security Act of 1994, which included signatures from:
    Robert Bennett [R-UT], George Brown [R-CO], Conrad Burns [R-MT], Daniel Coats [R-IN], Thad Cochran [R-MS], Paul Coverdell [R-GA], Larry Craig [R-ID], Robert Dole [R-KS], Duncan Faircloth [R-NC], Charles Grassley [R-IA], Judd Gregg [R-NH], Orrin Hatch [R-UT], Jesse Helms [R-NC], Kay Hutchison [R-TX], Dirk Kempthorne [R-ID], Trent Lott [R-MS], Richard Lugar [R-IN], Connie Mack [R-FL], Frank Murkowski [R-AK], Alan Simpson [R-WY], Bob Smith [R-NH], Ted Stevens [R-AK], Strom Thurmond [R-SC], Malcolm Wallop [R-WY]. All somehow have changed their minds!

    May 12, 2014 04:57 am at 4:57 am |
  13. James

    It is a total disgrace to the USA. Obamacare, just the word alone is disgusting. The man has done nothing but destroy our nation. The rest of the world is laughing, knowing the outcome of socialized type medical. Canada failed at it and so will we.
    These are the same people that think an iPhone is a great piece of tech.

    May 12, 2014 05:01 am at 5:01 am |
  14. bitty31985

    repeal it!!! They're killing us!!!!

    May 12, 2014 05:19 am at 5:19 am |
  15. steve

    "What I read is 67% think it's flawed." 67% don't even know what is in the law.

    May 12, 2014 05:19 am at 5:19 am |
  16. Joe

    I needed a good laugh. Thanks

    May 12, 2014 05:19 am at 5:19 am |
  17. morleytr

    Terrible article. Very misleading to say "most Americans" want to keep the ACA. Only 12% want to keep it "as is". There's no indication of the extent to which the 40% who want to change it would go. They could want only minor changes, or they could want a significant overhaul, without actually scrapping the law. We also have no idea how the question was asked. Were respondents asked "do you want to keep the act and make changes", or "do you want to make changes to the aca?" Tons of variables here. Definitely can't say "most" want to keep it and 60% hardly qualifies as "most" at least not in the way "most" of us would think about it.

    May 12, 2014 05:23 am at 5:23 am |
  18. Belinda

    I Don't Believe Many People Like Ovomitcare. That's Propaganda. Even People Who ThoughtThey Wanted Have Changed Their MindS.Before Ovomitcare, Would Get A Series Of 3 Injections In Both Knees Every 6-8Mths. My Part With Medicare Was $142. Now My Part Is $300. I Can't Afford That And Am In Constant Pain. I Can't Afford To Pay That Since I'm On SocSec. Its Not True. Most People Don't Want Ovomitcare. Its No Good! I Hate It And I Hate Being Told What To Do.

    May 12, 2014 05:29 am at 5:29 am |
  19. dnokc

    The author of this piece is spinning so much they're dizzy!

    May 12, 2014 06:43 am at 6:43 am |
  20. Persimmon

    Medicare for all. It runs smoothly, low overheads, and years and tp years of experience. It's the perfect solution.

    May 12, 2014 06:43 am at 6:43 am |
  21. Big Barry

    I took a poll, the outcome was AMAZINGLY in my favor, my poll was to remove obama from the office and put ME in his place, 99% of the people polled agreed!

    May 12, 2014 07:00 am at 7:00 am |
  22. bandjammer

    As it should be.

    May 12, 2014 07:07 am at 7:07 am |
  23. Nick

    Poll them again after the 2015 premiums are announced and watch the numbers drop. I tend to agree there are some parts of the law that should be kept – like pre-existing conditions. However, as I often tell my people WHAT you do isn't necessarily as important as HOW you do it. Many promises about premiums, plans and doctors were made, and were promptly broken. Why should we trust this government to any better the next time around given the track record with other programs (VA, Medicare unfunded liabilities, stealing from the Social Security Trust, etc.)?

    May 12, 2014 07:11 am at 7:11 am |
  24. IRONMIKE

    Take the poll this time next year after the fines and death panels kick in.

    May 12, 2014 07:19 am at 7:19 am |
  25. Serge Storms

    The bad news is that Obamacare is increasing healthcare costs in America. I'm talking about all the new prescriptions for blood pressure medicine that are written after the right wingers foam at the mouth over it. The good news is they can't be denied coverage for their new condition.

    May 12, 2014 07:19 am at 7:19 am |
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