August 28, 2013
Obamacare fliers
A pamphlet titled “The Impact of Obamacare.” (Jessica Rinaldi/Reuters)

The new Kaiser health care reform poll is out today, and it once again confirms two things: that Obamacare polls badly, and that Republicans are marching off a cliff in their reaction to it.

No question about it: The Affordable Care Act (ACA) doesn’t poll well at all. In the most recent iteration, only 37 percent of those surveyed reported a “generally favorable” opinion, compared to 42 percent with an unfavorable opinion. That’s about where it’s been since the law passed. The same results apply with somewhat different questions asked; for example, pluralities say that the law will make both them and the nation “worse off.” There’s no sign, either, that attitudes about the ACA are shifting in favor of the law.

Yet defunding Obamacare, the big Republican cause of the moment, is even more unpopular. By a margin of 57 percent to 36 percent, poll respondents did not approve of “cutting off funding to implement” ACA. This fits perfectly with something that Greg has been hitting on for some time — that many of those who don’t like Obamacare also don’t like the Republican plan to simply repeal it. We can now add defunding to that list.

Trying to sort all of that out isn’t easy. We know, from other Kaiser polls, that people like the individual portions of ACA far more than they report liking the law. We know that some of those who disapprove of it do so because they want more, not less, reform. We know that “fixing” the law is a lot more popular than getting rid of it. As I said, hard to sort out.

But clearly the idea that most voters, or most swing voters, have the kind of deep hatred for health reform that Tea Party activists and other core Republicans share just isn’t the case. And those Republicans who want to keep “repeal” and “defunding” at the center of Congressional debate and then yet another electoral cycle? They’re going to find, as they did in 2012, that Obamacare as a political weapon used against the Democrats is in most contexts one big dud.