Democracy Corps Poll Shows Good News for ACA Supporters

By Oct 18, 2013, 6:31 AM Author's Blog  

Democracy Corps, a polling/advising group headed by Democratic Party stalwarts Stan Greenberg and James Carville, has released a new health care survey in conjunction with the organization Women’s Voices, Women’s Vote (hat tip to Political Wire). Although clearly party-aligned, Democracy Corps has a good record for accuracy, nailing President Obama’s four percentage-point victory margin last year over Mitt Romney. The newly released health care poll was in the field October 6-8, coinciding with the early stages of both the roll-out of the Obamacare online exchanges and the government shutdown. To see the full set of poll results, go here first. You’ll then be able to click on links for results in the form of memos, the questionnaire, and graphs.

The report is entitled “38 Percent,” referring to the estimated proportion of American voters who “clearly oppose the Affordable Care Act.” Democracy Corps presents results for both its total sample (which appears to be comprised of registered voters) and a likely-voter sample. The results are very similar for the two samples, so I’ll just cite figures for the total sample.

On the initial item assessing attitudes toward “the health care reform law that passed in 2010,” support and opposition each drew 45% of respondents. However, subtracting respondents who answered on a subsequent question that they opposed the ACA because it “doesn’t go far enough,” one ends up with the aforementioned figure of 38% assumed to dislike Obamacare for conservative reasons.

Several other findings are worth noting:

  • Despite the tendency of some to jump to quick conclusions, the American public seems in large part to hold a wait-and-see attitude toward the ACA. Among four possible answer choices on current perceptions of the law, 46% of respondents said it was “too early to tell” how things would turn out, 20% saw it as making things “harder for me,” 17% said they could not yet see any ways in which the law was helping, and 14% were “beginning to see benefits.”
  • Positive shifts in attitude toward the ACA were seen in several subgroups from 2010 to the latest poll. For example, White voters without a college education, who have been generally hostile to Obama, have gone from hating the law in 2010 (opponents outnumbering supporters by 31 percentage points) to merely being in sizable opposition (opponents being more numerous by 18 percentage points). White older women have gone from -23 to only -4. And groups that were moderately supportive have become wildly supportive, such as unmarried women, who shifted from +9 to +29.
  • Good will toward the ACA appears premised to a large extent on the idea that the law can and will be refined and improved over time. That is how I read the results of a mini-experiment embedded within the Democracy Corps survey, at least. Some respondents were asked to choose between “We should implement and fix the health care reform law” and “We should repeal and replace the health care reform law.” The clear winner was the “implement and fix” alternative, 58-38 percent. However, when the choice (given to a different set of respondents) was between “We should implement the health care reform law” (without reference to fixing the law) and “We should repeal the health care reform law,” repeal was preferred 51-46.

This new Democracy Corps/Women’s Voices, Women’s Vote poll follows two other recent ones seemingly showing an upturn for the ACA: a late September survey by The Morning Consult/Survey Sampling International; and an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll showing that the amount by which the ACA was “underwater” (percentage saying it was a “bad idea” exceeding the percentage saying it was a “good idea”) had shrunk from 13 percentage points in September to only 5 percentage points in October.

Whether people really are becoming more favorable toward the ACA/Obamacare is questionable, especially with the prolonged difficulties people are having using the websites to sign up. Another possibility is that the disrepute into which the Republicans have fallen over the government shutdown has transferred over into disdain for positions held by the GOP (such as opposition to Obamacare).

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