Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, Democrats have had a similar refrain. From the moment the bill was signed into a law, the reforms known as Obamacare have never been viewed positively by a majority of voters. Even on the eve of its passage, at least a plurality said they opposed the law. But Democrats have long warned Republicans that eventually the public would come around. Sure, the law is unpopular now but just wait until people’s lives are really affected! They’ll love it!
They were right in one sense: the way people’s lives are concretely affected by the law will have a much greater impact on public opinion than any political messaging. The amount people spend on health care or the ability to see the doctor they want will be far more influential in generating support or opposition to the law than any speech or slogan. Yet as the enrollment window for health insurance plans on the exchanges came to a close this week, a look at the polling trends still shows significantly more Americans oppose the Affordable Care Act than support it, and that opposition to it is still higher today than it was on the day of the rollout of the exchanges. As initial opposition to the law based on fear of the unknown has given way to continuing opposition as implementation continues, and the notion that a fully implemented law would win plaudits from the public has not turned out to be the case.
In March, nine nonpartisan polls were released, most showing opposition to the law over 50 percent with support barely cracking the low 40s.