Democrats who still think that defending ObamaCare makes for a great midterm strategy will be shocked, shocked by the latest AP-Gfk survey results. The rest of us … not so much. Support for the law dropped to a record low in this polling series, and even the slight improvement in the perception of its implementation leaves it far below the Democratic base numbers:
Public support for President Barack Obama’s health care law is languishing at its lowest level since passage of the landmark legislation four years ago, according to a new poll.
The Associated Press-GfK survey finds that 26 percent of Americans support the Affordable Care Act. Yet even fewer — 13 percent — think it will be completely repealed. A narrow majority expects the law to be further implemented with minor changes, or as passed.
Even the good news is remarkably bad:
Impressions of the health care rollout while low, have improved slightly.
While only 5 percent of Americans say the launch of the insurance exchanges has gone very or extremely well, the number who think it has gone at least somewhat well has improved from 12 percent in December to 26 percent now. The exchanges offer subsidized private coverage to people without a plan on the job.
Democratic candidates had better avoid having the President on their campaign trails, too, at least on this issue. Barack Obama’s approval rating for his handling of health care — a longtime Democratic policy stronghold — is now 39/61. Democrats’ lead on trust for working on health care has fallen to a margin-of-error 30/26, a loss of six points in the gap since December.
The 26/43 for ObamaCare is almost identical to December’s 27/44. That means that the three months of supposedly “fixed” operation of Healthcare.gov has changed few minds. The law has never been popular, as the series shows — disapproval peaked at the 2010 midterms, 41/52 — but its popularity has never been this low. The “strongly support” number is at its lowest, too, at 13%. That number has never been higher than 21% in this series, but it was still at 16% at the start of the rollout.
The individual mandate draws most of the opposition in the poll. A plurality of 49% oppose it outright, and 41% want it repealed. The rest of it has more support, especially the provisions that keep young adults on their parent’s family plan until 26 and the must-issue provision for those with pre-existing conditions. That might point the way to a so-called “fix,” except that the individual mandate is needed to have those two provisions along with “community pricing” that forbids insurers from calculating premiums based on individual risk. One of those things would have to go without the mandate.
Finally, keep the poll composition in mind while considering the support numbers. The D/R/I split is 30/27/24, with AP’s usual large number of “none of these” (16%). ObamaCare support doesn’t even manage to get to the number of Democrats in the survey. If Democratic incumbents plan to defend ObamaCare to the general electorate, they may need to start with their own base first.