Where The Public Is On Obamacare

Pew Obamacare

Suderman summarizes recent polling on the ACA:

USA Today/Pew poll taken last week and released today finds that 53 percent of the public disapproves of the health care law, with 41 percent saying they disapprove strongly. The same percentage of respondents—53—say they disapprove of the way that President Obama is handling health policy. A Reason-Rupe poll published last week finds similar skepticism about the way the law is being handled, with 62 percent of those surveyed saying that implementation of the health law is not going well.

A poll from NBC/WSJ contains similarly bad numbers. But it also finds that increased knowledge of the law correlates with more support for it:

34% say they don’t understand the law very well, and another 35% say they understand it only “some.” That’s compared with 30% who understand it either “very well” or “pretty well.” As it turns out, that 30% has more positive opinions about the health-care law (42% good idea, 45% bad idea), versus the 34% who don’t understand it very well (17% good idea, 44% bad idea). … The White House has tried to start health-care education campaigns a few times, but to no avail. If they could actually sustain one of their campaign-style pushes on health care, these numbers suggest it COULD pay off.

Greg Sargent focuses on the numbers in the above chart from Pew (pdf), which demonstrate that relatively few Americans want the law to fail:

[L]arge majorities overall either support the law or oppose it but want lawmakers to try to make it work. Simply put, the zeal to prevent the law from functioning as well as possible is well outside the American mainstream.

To some degree this mirrors the situation within the House of Representatives itself. A majority of Members would vote tomorrow to fund the government without any defund-Obamacare rider attached, or to raise the debt limit without any Obamacare delay attached. But because House GOP leaders are loathe to allow a vote on anything unless a majority of House Republicans approves of it, the result is that — if today’s Pew poll has it right — the delusional preoccupations of a small minority of the American people are having an outsized impact on, well, our entire political situation, with potential economic chaos looming as a result.

Chait expects the politics of Obamacare to change once the uninsured are in the system:

Any future revision will have to account for them. Anybody who wants to overhaul the health-care system will not merely have to protect insurers and medical providers but Americans in health exchanges, too. It will no longer be possible for Republicans to propose repealing Obamacare and making some vague hand-waving to do something for the uninsured at some future point. Republican health-care reform will have to include everybody. All this is contingent on the law actually getting up and running.

Republicans are afraid of that transformation, and they’re right to be.