Our new Townhall cousin Conn Carroll tracked the trends. Oof:
In fact, since the government shutdown began, every poll that has been taken shows Obamacare gaining in popularity, not declining.
The Washington Post/ABC News poll shows support for Obamacare rising from 42% approve/52% disapprove to 46% approve/49% disapprove.
CBS shows support for Obamacare rising from 39% approve/51% disapprove to 43% approve/51% disapprove.
CNN shows support for Obamacare rising from 38% approve/57% disapprove to 41% approve/56% disapprove.
Rasmussen shows support for Obamacare rising from 43 approve/53% disapprove to 46% approve/48% disapprove.
None of those gains are dramatic but they’re all in the wrong direction. Here’s what this looks like on RCP’s graph tracking average approval of ObamaCare (black line) and disapproval (red line). As October begins, the red line droops.
Conn draws two conclusions. One: The “defund” strategy failed. Hard to argue, no matter what you think the “real” goal of the defund effort was. If it was about building a grassroots groundswell of opposition that would frighten Obama and Reid into caving to GOP demands and agreeing to defund the law, then … support for the law should not have gone up. If, more modestly, it was all about raising awareness of O-Care’s many problems, then … support for the law should not have gone up. The numbers shouldn’t even have been flat. They should, at the barest minimum, have showed a small decline reflecting that the public was responding to GOP messaging on ObamaCare. Instead, this.
Two: Conn thinks public disdain for the GOP’s “defund” tactics (“making Republicans look like tone-deaf extremists unfit to govern”) might be contributing to the uptick in support for ObamaCare. I don’t know about that. I doubt, in fact, that the sunnier polling on O-Care has as much to do with the shutdown as it does with the launch of the exchanges on October 1, the same day that the shutdown began. It seems … insane that the public might support the law more after three weeks of enduring the Healthcare.gov apocalypse than it did before, but never forget that (a) a lot of voters are badly, badly informed on current events and (b) even the ones who are well informed are apt to let partisan loyalties dictate their view of policy. Here’s a table from Pew’s new poll, conducted between Oct. 9th and 13th, illustrating both points:
Young adults, who tilt liberal, are evenly split on whether the site’s working well or not. Democrats generally and black voters specifically, both core parts of O’s base, think the sites are working well on balance even though The One himself acknowledged yesterday in his presser that they aren’t. This is what happens when voters get in a defensive crouch about a major failure by their party. And this is where Conn is partly right, I think, about Republican tactics backfiring: To the extent that the standoff between Dems and the GOP during the shutdown got both bases’ backs up, it solidified some liberal support for ObamaCare that was weak until recently. Some lefties, remember, oppose O-Care because they want a more socialist model for health care. But when Ted Cruz is on the Senate floor railing against Democrats for ruining America with the new exchanges, those lefties will firm up and say they support the law in the name of defending their party and the broader dream of universal health care. It’s not the particular “defund” tactics themselves that drove the higher support for ObamaCare, in other words, but rather the spectacle of bitter partisan deadlock for two weeks on television every night. The boost for O-Care is a function of partisans digging in. Mostly, at least: Amid all the stories about the website melting down, there’s also been coverage lately about the uninsured being excited to enroll. That’s probably worth something at the margins in shoring up Democratic support.
Anyway. Now that the partisan warfare on the Hill is over and Healthcare.gov trainwreck stories are bubbling up in all sorts of media, the October bounce for ObamaCare should start to fade. If, per Pew, perceptions of the website were at 29/45 nine days ago, imagine what they look like now. Disillusionment with the online exchanges is bound to cause some disillusionment with the law generally. And then who knows what happens if/when next month Obama announces that he has no choice but to delay part or all of it.