Sen. Mitch McConnell (C) (R-KY) answers questions following a weekly policy luncheon at the U.S. Capitol on March 11, 2014 in Washington, DC.
Win McNamee/Getty

Picking the wrong fight over polls

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) spokesperson turned to Twitter today to gloat about, of all things, a health care poll:
“We were told that #Obamacare would be popular after it passed, or implemented, or after open enrollment. Nope.”
The tweet referred to a Gallup poll that shows approval of the Affordable Care Act climbing to 43%, which is five points higher than a few months ago, but which is still obviously short of a majority. As has been the case for years, the campaign to undermine support for “Obamacare” remains effective – the law still isn’t popular.
Of course, it’s always best not to make too much of a fuss about any one poll, though in a case like this it doesn’t much matter – recent surveys show national ACA support anywhere from 37% to 49%. By any measure, it’d be silly to suggest the health care law is basking in the warm glow of Americans’ undying love.
So, point for the Republicans. They’ve worked very hard to convince people not to like “Obamacare” and their efforts have paid dividends. The American mainstream tends to support the provisions within the law more than the law itself – which casts some doubt as to just how much value these polls really have – but for years of conditioning won’t change overnight.
What’s less clear is why in the world Mitch McConnell’s office wants to pick a fight over polling and popularity.
I’m reminded of this recent item from Robert Schlesinger:
[R]egardless of whether Obamacare is double-digits down or is creeping up, one thing remains fairly constant (since I wrote about it last October) – the Affordable Care Act remains far more popular than the people who have made it their raison d’etre to repeal the thing, congressional Republicans.
McConnell’s office likes the new data from the Gallup poll, so let’s go with these figures. According to the survey, 43% of Americans support the ACA. Is that an impressive level of support? No. Is it far stronger support than the Republican Party currently enjoys? Well, yes – the GOP’s approval rating is about 31%, 12 points lower than the dreaded Obamacare.
In other words, Mitch McConnell’s office is mocking a law for being unpopular, despite the fact that the law is far more popular than McConnell’s political party.
Or more to the point, by some measure, the Affordable Care Act is roughly as popular with Americans as Mitch McConnell is with his constituents.
It seems like a topic ACA critics would be better off avoiding.