Many Americans have liked what Obamacare does, but they’re still suspicious of what it is. Solid majorities favor the provisions that bar discrimination by insurers, set higher standards for health plans, and subsidize coverage through tax credits and Medicaid. Yet the Affordable Care Act managed only a 38% favorable rating in the Kaiser Family Foundation’s March tracking poll (up four points from January). Some 46% of respondents still held negative views.
Republicans relish the prospect of running against health care reform in this fall’s elections, but here’s what many are forgetting: Americans may not yet love Obamacare, but they like it better than anything the Republicans are offering.
New results from a Reuters/Ipsos tracking poll show that Dems lead the GOP by at least seven percentage points on health care. Of the 1,2000 adults interviewed between April 1 and April 16, 29% said they believe Dems have “the better plan for health care.” Only 22% favored GOP proposals.
During the second week of the survey (April 6-15), the credibility gap widened to 14 points, with 32% of respondents favoring Democratic policies and just 18% trusting the GOP.
The first open-enrollment period’s recent happy ending has boosted confidence that Obamacare can work, but the Democratic advantage is nothing new. As this Reuters/Ipsos timeline shows, the Republican Party has trailed significantly on the issue for two years.
The Democrats’ advantage has narrowed somewhat since early 2013, when the gap was 16 points wide, but the new poll suggests it’s opening up again, as people who turned “undecided” during website fiasco gain confidence in the new system. If the most recent week’s findings hold up, Democrats are back within two points of last year’s 16-point advantage.
Not surprisingly, Democrats still lead by nearly a three-to-one margin (27% to 10%) among people making less than $25,000 per year. Rather than a ticket to victory, health care voters could be one of Republicans’ biggest liabilities.