A new Gallup poll was released this morning showing public support for the Affordable Care Act inching higher, from 41% in August to 45% now. In isolation, that’s a pretty modest shift in a single poll, and hardly worth getting excited about. But it’s not the only poll showing improved support for “Obamacare.”
This week, four national polls have been released – Gallup, CBS News, CNN, and ABC/Washington Post – and all four show the health care law more popular now than the last time the pollsters asked.
To be sure, you can look at the chart I put together and see that in each instance, support for the law is below 50%, so it’s obviously far too soon to characterize the Affordable Care Act as “popular.” It’s not.
But the shift in public attitudes comes as a bit of a surprise. The only major news related to the law in recent weeks has been considerable coverage of technical problems with the system’s website. I largely expected the polls to show declining favorability in light of all the negative press coverage.
And yet, there are four independent, national polls showing the exact opposite.
There are experts in public opinion who can speak to why this has happened with greater authority than I can. Maybe this is partly the result of a partisan backlash over Republicans shutting down the government over their contempt for the law. Perhaps the American mainstream doesn’t much care about website glitches and is happy to have expanded opportunities to get affordable coverage.
Whatever the explanation, Republicans can take some solace in the fact that the law’s standing is still well below the 50% threshold. That said, after instigating a national crisis over a health care system they assumed Americans hate as much as they do, GOP officials must see the new polling results as a disaster.