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Latest Polls Reveal the State of Support for ACA, Obama


With just two weeks left until the end of open enrollment under the Affordable Care Act, a slew of polls and surveys claim less-than-stellar news for the law and the president.

With just two weeks left until the end of open enrollment under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a slew of polls and surveys claim less-than-stellar news for the law, Democrats and the president.

The majority of Americans continue to view the ACA unfavorably, according to multiple polls. Back in February, Gallup reported that 51% of respondents disapprove of the ACA, up from 47% a year ago. According to Gallup, the negative tilt corresponds with the fact that most Americans believe the law has had no effect (64%) or a harmful effect (19%) on their family.

Meanwhile, a survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 47% have an unfavorable view of the law and 35% favor it. Both polls did show some positive movement as Gallup reported negative views of the ACA were down from 54% and Kaiser said in November that 49% were against the law.

Kaiser also reported that despite the steadily holding negative opinion of the ACA, the majority would prefer to keep the law in place rather than repeal it. Half (48%) want Congress to work to improve the law, while 8% say it should be kept as it is. Just 12% responded that the law should be repealed and replaced with a Republican-sponsored alternative and 19% believe the ACA should simply be repealed and not replaced.

Opinions on the next steps are deeply divided by political affiliation—Democrats prefer to keep the law, Republicans want to see it repealed, and Independents are slightly more in favor of keeping the law.

Those who are against the law tend to be rich, white and healthy, according to an analysis by the Urban Institute. These Americans are more likely to be white, in the middle- and higher-income groups, have private insurance, be in very good or excellent health, and live in rural areas.

However, where you live also determines how you feel about the law as Americans in states that adopted the Medicaid expansion or have a state-run insurance marketplace were less likely to view the law unfavorably. Unfortunately for the law, and its lawmakers/political supporters, there are large portions of uninsured adults who are more likely to have an unfavorable view of the law, and those most likely to benefit from the ACA were more likely to express weak support or had no opinion rather than have a favorable view.

“Uninsured adults’ opinions are particularly interesting because a major goal of the ACA is to reduce the number of uninsured,” the authors of the study, John Holahan, Genevieve M. Kenney, Michael Karpman, and Ariel Fogel, wrote. “Surprisingly, the uninsured were as likely to have a favorable as to have an unfavorable opinion of the ACA (both about 30 percent) and an even larger share of the uninsured (37.8 percent) said they had no opinion.”

The Urban Institute’s report suggests that the reason so many groups targeted by ACA coverage have no opinion or view it unfavorably is possibly because outreach and education efforts are falling short.

President Obama and supporters of the law have said since the beginning that informing young people and getting them to sign up was vital to the success of the law. The latest data shows that those aged 18 to 24 make up 25% of total enrollment, which is below the one-third of overall signups that the Obama administration was hoping for.

Perhaps revealing how desperate the administration is getting for more young enrollees, the president recently appeared on the internet comedy series Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis (star of The Hangover movies). Clearly trying to reach the younger audience watching the series, Obama and Galifianakis asked people to sign up for healthcare on Healthcare.gov. The video had 11 million views by the next day.

In a year with a midterm election how will the weak support of the ACA play out? A survey from the Robert Morris Polling Institute revealed that the law is a hurdle for Democratic candidates, but not overwhelmingly so. The survey of 1,000 found that 40% of respondents would be less likely to support a candidate who backed the law.

“What really jumps out here is gender and marital status,” RMU political scientist Philip Harold said in a statement. “Among likely voters in this poll, the opposition to Obamacare is being driven by women. Male likely voters are actually in favor of Obamacare according to our poll.”

A Washington Post/ABC News poll revealed that support for candidates who voted for the ACA actually improved recently with respondents split: 34% would be more likely to vote for the candidate and 36% would be less likely.

In general, the poll reported that Democrats hold an advantage over Republicans. The respondents said they trust Democrats more to handle healthcare, immigration issues, helping the middle class, energy policy, and taxes. And while respondents were split on whether Obama was in touch with the concerns of people in the US (48%) or out of touch (49%), they overwhelmingly said the Republican party is out of touch (68%).

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