The January Kaiser Health tracking poll, conducted jointly with the Harvard School of Public Health, now shows Obamacare to be less popular than at any time since its passage. For the first time since Obamacare became law, Kaiser now shows 50 percent of respondents holding an "unfavorable" opinion of it (up from a previous high of 45 percent in this poll), with only 41 percent holding a "favorable" opinion of it. The Kaiser Health tracking poll has always been an outlier poll, showing unusually favorable results for Obamacare. Previously, the largest margin of opposition in this poll was just 3 points, compared with this month's 9-point margin of opposition.
Kaiser/Harvard's political leanings are evident in its write up, as a shift from 41 percent opposition last month to 50 percent opposition this month is described as an "uptick," as the public's views remain "roughly divided." A 9-point jump in opposition seems like a bit more than an "uptick," and an almost 10-point margin doesn't seem all that "roughly divided," especially in a poll that doesn't screen for likely or registered voters and which therefore almost certainly understates the level of opposition to Obamacare. The poll shows opposition to be clearer still among independents, 57 percent of which have an "unfavorable" opinion of Obamacare.
Perhaps most interestingly, the poll asks, "[W]hich two issues would you most like the president and Congress to act on in 2011?" The winner, beating out "Economy/jobs" and dwarfing everything else by a margin of more than 2-to-1, is "Health care/health reform." And, importantly, those who list health care among the two most important issues oppose Obamacare by a margin of 21 points (57 to 36 percent). So much for President Obama's wishful claim that Americans are ready to move on and accept Obamacare as a fact of life.
Moreover, the group that most wants Congress to act on health care is Republicans, 50 percent of whom list health care as one of the two most important issues (compared to only 39 percent for "Economy/jobs" and 19 percent for "Debt/deficit/balance budget/government spending"). To be sure, Republican voters care about the economy and the debt, but they particularly care about Republicans' continued efforts to repeal Obamacare. At this point, with the repeal bill having passed, those efforts should be directed toward offering a compelling alternative.