CNN poll: 63% support Supreme Court's ObamaCare ruling, 59% support gay-marriage ruling

It’s the first post-ruling poll I’ve seen in either case. There wasn’t much mystery about where the public was on ObamaCare subsidies — “free” money! — but there was a little suspense around the SSM decision in light of this YouGov poll last week showing a plurality of the public opposed to having the Court decide the issue. That raised the question of whether a backlash might be brewing around process. Sure, Americans support gay marriage in principle, but what happens when the judiciary wrests that issue out of the states’ hands and settles it as a matter of equal protection? Would that alienate some supporters?

Nope, if CNN’s data is accurate.

According to a new CNN/ORC poll, 63% support the Court’s ruling upholding government assistance for lower-income Americans buying health insurance through both state-operated and federally-run health insurance exchanges. Slightly fewer, 59%, say they back the ruling which made same-sex marriages legal in all 50 states…

Democrats are more apt to say they back the ruling on the 2010 health care law sometimes referred to as Obamacare — 79% back it — than they are to support the same-sex marriage decision, of which 70% favor. Among Republicans, 54% said they oppose the ruling on health care, while 59% oppose the ruling on same-sex marriage, not a statistically-significant difference. Among independents, 63% support each ruling.

Republicans are most apt in the new poll to say the Court’s ideology is too far to the left: 69% see the Court as too liberal. That’s up from 2012, when 59% of Republicans called it too liberal.

Of the various demographics analyzed (sex, race, age, region, income, education, party, ideology), the only groups that had a majority opposed to both rulings were Republicans and conservatives. (Senior citizens opposed the gay-marriage ruling but supported the ObamaCare decision.) And even they weren’t as lopsided as you might think: 42 percent of Republicans backed the O-Care subsidies opinion while 40 percent backed the SSM opinion. Are those numbers credible?

Well, various polls in the last few months have found support for gay marriage among GOPers running at around 35-40 percent. Meanwhile, among the broader population, a CBS/NYT poll taken just a few weeks ago pegged support for gay marriage at 57 percent while an NBC/WSJ poll conducted around the same time found that the exact same number would support a Supreme Court decision declaring it a constitutional right. All of those numbers are right in line with CNN’s findings today, suggesting that nearly everyone who backs SSM in principle also backs SCOTUS’s ruling. Federalism concerns are apparently irrelevant. As for O-Care, the same CBS/NYT poll I mentioned asked people whether they’d back a Court decision that allowed federal subsidies to continue. Fully 70 percent said yes. When asked what Congress should do if SCOTUS struck down the subsidies, 64 percent said they should pass a law restoring the subsidies. Again, these numbers are in line with the 63 percent number that CNN got today. The public may dislike ObamaCare in general but they looooove those premium discounts from Uncle Sam.

Then again, by tweaking the questions, you doubtless could have driven these numbers lower. Here’s CNN’s ObamaCare question:


The question in King v. Burwell wasn’t whether giving subsidies to poorer Americans to pay their health insurance is legal in the abstract, as that question seems to imply. The question was whether the text of the ObamaCare statute itself authorized those subsidies for consumers on the federal exchange. You could have rephrased this question to ask, “If a law passed by Congress authorizing health-care subsidies is unclear, should clarifying it be a job for Congress or the Supreme Court?” Imagine the numbers you’d have gotten for that one. But then, that question’s not really fair either. The core issue in King for 99 percent of the public is, “Should the government keep the free money flowing to people who’ve come to depend on it?” The legal niceties of that, whether subsidies are legal or illegal given the way the law was drafted and which branch of government should be responsible for cleaning up this mess, are probably just that — niceties.

The gay-marriage question is more solid:


There are ways to object to that. Surely you could have gotten a result that’s less rosy about SSM by emphasizing that many state majorities have banned the practice and that a SCOTUS ruling would effectively end democratic debate on the issue. On the other hand, you could have probably gotten a more rosy result by larding the question up with flowery Kennedyesque language about whether states should be allowed to prevent two people who love each other from marrying. I think the way CNN phrased it is a good compromise, focusing strictly on the practical effects of the ruling — marriage in all 50 states, a sweeping outcome ordered by a Court. Yes or no? Most say yes.

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David Strom 6:31 PM on October 05, 2022