If you consider a 43/42 favorable rating a “fee-vah,” then yes, America’s got a fee-vah.
Still, I suppose it’s noteworthy that the law is now seen favorably on balance. That hadn’t happened once since election day 2012.
Lefties will pop the champagne but you can see that, for the moment, O-Care’s only made it back to the low-40s baseline of popularity that it enjoyed for the first half of the five years since Obama signed it into law. It’s not, in other words, that the program’s more popular now than it ever was. The significance of today’s data is that it’s now finally regained all the support it lost after it was actually implemented and people got to see how it works in practice. It’s weathered the ferocious political storm surrounding its rollout, which began with the most infamous website launch in Internet history, continued with Obama admitting that sometimes you can’t keep your plan even if you like it, and slogged on through various problems (like narrower provider networks) during implementation.
But then, as some lefty analysts have themselves noted in the past, it’s always tricky trying to deduce big conclusions from data on a subject as complex and opaque as ObamaCare. Some polls have found that people are more likely to say they support the reforms in the “Affordable Care Act” than they are to support “ObamaCare” even though the two are, of course, the same thing. Look again at the chart above and you’ll find evidence that perceptions of O’s signature legislation may be tied to perceptions of O himself. The law’s popularity surged in late 2012 not because of any change to the statute but because voters were in the home stretch of the presidential campaign and trending towards reelecting Obama. The law sagged in early to mid 2013, before its October launch, likely due to the end of O’s post-election “honeymoon period” and the decline of his political fortunes. No doubt the boost the law’s getting now is due in part to the latest enrollment period being completed successfully and some voters being satisfied with their new benefits, but it’s also probably partly connected to higher approval for Obama himself lately. His job approval rating was three points higher in the first three months of this year than it was in the last three months of 2014 thanks to optimism about the economy. It may be that, as Obama goes, so goes ObamaCare.
There could be a “status quo effect” at work here too. Behold:
A plurality wants to at least keep the law as is, and just 29 percent want to repeal it — roughly the same percentages that have held for the past six months, notes Kaiser. One of Ted Cruz’s arguments for the shutdown in 2013 was that if O-Care wasn’t stopped before it launched, people would become dependent on it and it would soon be politically impossible to muster the public will to repeal it. You may be seeing evidence of that here, fueled by the fact that repeal has largely slipped off the GOP’s radar since the midterms. If I were a lefty and really wanted to celebrate some Kaiser data, though, it wouldn’t be numbers from the new poll I’d be touting. It’d be the numbers from last month’s poll about the Supreme Court’s looming Halbig decision. Yowza:
If SCOTUS makes federal subsidies for O-Care enrollees in states without an exchange (i.e. red states) go bye-bye, a heavy majority wants their local Republican legislature/governor to jump in and bring them back. That includes 58 percent of Republicans — and unlike in the second table above, the numbers here have changed recently. As of January, 59 percent overall and just 51 percent of GOPers said they wanted their state government to act to restore subsidies if need be by creating an exchange. Two months later, those numbers were up noticeably. Gonna be some sweating in Republican-dominated capitols a few months from now if SCOTUS torpedoes the White House in Halbig.