Polls show that Obamacare, which was highly unpopular at the time of its passage, is even less popular today. And Gallup’s most recently released poll offers further evidence to that effect. However, the poll’s headline—“One Year Later, Americans Split on Healthcare Law” — suggests otherwise and is exactly the kind of straw at which the Obama administration likes to grasp. So the headline’s claim is worth addressing.
Gallup elaborates a bit in its write-up: “One year after President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law, Americans are divided on its passage, with 46% saying it was a good thing and 44% saying it was a bad thing.” But Gallup also references “polling conducted a year ago, just before President Obama signed the bill into law.” It writes, “At that point, in response to a slightly different question” (the only differences were that “yesterday” became “a year ago,” “the U.S. House of Representatives” became “Congress,” and “bill” became “law”), “49% said the law was a good thing, while 40% said it was a bad thing.”
So Obamacare was supposedly favored by 9 points at that time — a tally that only the truly credulous could believe, and one that presumably explains why the Democrats did so well in November — and now is favored by only 2. So even this poll shows a 7-point decline in Obamacare’s margin of support in the intervening year.
Gallup’s poll doesn’t screen for likely or even registered voters, and it includes more Democrats than Republicans (despite the fact that Gallup currently shows the two parties evenly divided), all of which serves to exaggerate the level of support for Obamacare. But what’s really telling in Gallup’s numbers is Obamacare’s level of support, or lack thereof, among independents.
By a margin of 14 points (51 to 37 percent), independents think it was a “bad thing” that Obamacare was passed. By a margin of 19 points (50 to 31 percent), they think its effect would be to “worsen” American health care as a whole. And by a margin of better than 2-to-1 (46 to 19 percent), they think its effect would be to “worsen” their own health care. It hardly seems to be worth paying more than $2 trillion (from 2014 to 2023) for that.