Polls consistently show that Americans aren’t happy with Obamacare. They think the law will make health care more expensive, and decrease its quality. But a new survey of 1,976 registered voters
finds that only 33 percent believe that the health law should be repealed, delayed, or defunded. 29 percent believe that “Congress should make changes to improve the law,” 26 percent believe that “Congress should let the law take effect” and see what happens, and 12 percent believe that the law should be expanded. The bottom line? Voters are skeptical that Obamacare will live up to Democrats’ hype. But they also believe that it should be given a chance to succeed.
The new poll
was conducted by the Morning Consult
, a healthcare media company founded by Michael Ramlet. Ramlet, in evaluating the results of his survey, finds that voters are “unmoved by three months of the defund argument,” and that a majority would “blame congressional Republicans a lot for a government shutdown.”
Americans oppose risking a government shutdown
Here are the numbers. 26 percent of the respondents identified as Republicans, compared to 42 percent Democrats and 31 percent independents. (This compares to a spread of 22 R / 31 D / 45 I in the most recent Gallup tracking poll
Ramlet asked: “If your Member of Congress supports efforts to defund the 2010 healthcare law, and the efforts lead to a government shutdown, would that make you more likely, or less likely, to vote for this legislator in the next election?” 42 percent of voters said “less likely,” 30 percent said “more likely,” and 28 percent said “no difference.” Among independents, the breakdown was 44-28-28, respectively; among whites, it was 41-32-27; among Hispanics, 46-34-21.
Voters would blame “Republicans in Congress if the current budget dispute leads to a government shutdown starting October 1.” 51 percent would blame them “a lot,” 21 percent “some,” and 17 percent “a little.” Only 12 percent would assign no blame to Republicans. But voters would also blame President Obama for a shutdown, albeit by slimmer margins: 41 percent “a lot,” 15 percent “some,” and 18 percent “a little.” For Congressional Democrats, the numbers were 36 percent “a lot,” 24 percent “some,” and 23 percent “a little.”
Voters believe, by a margin of 66-33, that the 2012 election “represented a referendum on moving forward with implementation of the 2010 health care law.” 24 percent strongly agreed with that sentence; 42 percent somewhat did; 17 percent somewhat disagreed; and 16 percent strongly disagreed.
Voters are skeptical of the law’s promises
Most polls show that voters disapprove of the 2010 health care law by significant margins. The Morning Consult’s poll did not. 46 percent of voters strongly or somewhat disapproved of “the health care legislation passed by Barack Obama and Congress in 2010,” whereas 48 percent somewhat or strongly approved. (The disapproval was more heartfelt; 32 percent strongly disapproved, whereas only 21 percent strongly approved.)
On the other hand, voters are deeply skeptical of the law’s promises to make health care more affordable. 57 percent believe that it will make health care “much more” or “somewhat more” expensive, whereas only 15 percent believe it will make health care “much less” or “somewhat less” expensive. 37 percent believe that the law will negatively affect the “availability of medical benefits,” whereas 23 percent believe it will improve access. 37 percent believe that the law will negatively affect “the quality of the medical care you receive,” whereas 20 percent believe it will improve it.
Two-thirds of voters want to give the law a chance to succeed
While voters are skeptical that the law will benefit them, they don’t agree with conservatives who say that it represents an existential threat to America. Only 26 percent of voters believe that “Congress should repeal the law,” and only 7 percent believe that “Congress should delay and defund the law.”
On the other hand, 29 percent believe that “Congress should make changes to improve the law.” 26 percent believe that “Congress should let the law take effect.” And 12 percent believe that “Congress should expand the law.”
33 percent of voters overall support repealing, defunding or delaying Obamacare. 65 percent of Republicans feel that way, compared to 37 percent of independents and 10 percent of Democrats. 18 percent of Hispanics support repeal, defund, or delay. Americans over the age of 65 are most strongly opposed to the law, with younger voters most supportive.
Have anti-Obamacare activists misread the public?
As you go through the Morning Consult report, this general attitude becomes clear. The public is deeply skeptical that Obamacare will make their lives better. Indeed, they largely believe that it will make health care more costly and less efficient. But they don’t view the law in the apocalyptic terms that many conservatives do. “The American people overwhelmingly reject Obamacare,” says Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. That may be, but neither do they support shutting down the government in order to repeal it.
Ted Cruz believes that Obamacare must be stopped now, because if it isn’t, the law just might become popular. But the irony is that Cruz may have it exactly wrong. If the public is right, that Obamacare will make health care worse rather than better, the law may become less
popular over time. Either way, what the public wants above all else is for Republicans to propose legislation that will make the health care system better.
During Sen. Cruz’s 21-hour marathon speech on the Senate floor, he rightly cited many of the flaws and problems with our new health care law. But notably missing from his remarks was any attempt to address the real problems with our health care system, problems that conservative activists have neglected for 70-odd years. If Sen. Cruz cares about the sentiments of the American people as much as he says he does, he would be well served to consider that fact.