I saw a familiar headline over the weekend: “Most Americans oppose health law but like provisions.” It’s been the only consistent trend when it comes to polling on the Affordable Care Act: the public has been conditioned to reject “Obamacare,” but Americans don’t really know what’s in it. When asked about the provisions of the law, however, they’re quite popular.
That was the case in 2009, 2010, and 2011. And the new Reuters-Ipsos poll suggests nothing has changed.
In this case, Greg Sargent obtained the poll internals and found, “What’s particularly interesting about this poll is that solid majorities of Republicans favor most of the law’s main provisions, too.”
I put together this chart based on the Reuters-Ipsos data Greg reported on. Note that while there are clear partisan differences on these key provisions of the law, a majority of self-identified Republicans, Democrats, and Independents support each of them.
In fairness, support for the individual mandate and Medicaid expansion isn’t as broad. But that doesn’t change the fact that most of the key elements of this remain quite popular, even if the overall law isn’t (a 56% majority said they oppose the law).
We can debate why so many Americans disapprove of a law they don’t understand, and whose fault it is that the public doesn’t know what’s in the law itself – I can think of a few culprits – but when the political world talks about the unpopularity of Obamacare and its proponents’ loss in the public-relations battle, remember that the debate is skewed. The right’s p.r. success is a mile wide, but an inch deep – Americans of every stripe still support what it’s in the law, even if they don’t realize these popular provisions are part of the larger whole.
If policymakers took the component parts of the Affordable Care Act and called it something else, there can be little doubt that the package would poll a lot better.