October 21, 2013
Ted Cruz (ANDREW HARRER/BLOOMBERG)
Ted Cruz (ANDREW HARRER/BLOOMBERG)

A new Washington Post/ABC News poll once again drives home a core truth about our politics right now: Disapproval of Obamacare does not translate into support for GOP tactics against the law. We’ve long known that to be the case.

But the new Post/ABC poll takes this further, confirming that the horrific web-based problems we’re seeing right now with the Obamacare exchanges — which Republicans cite as evidence the law is a catastrophe that must be blotted from the landscape – are not producing support for the GOP position, either.

The poll finds that only 41 percent approve of Obama’s handling of the law’s implementation, versus 53 percent who disapprove. Fifty six percent say the website problems are a symptom of broader implementation issues — meaning the public is adopting a very harsh view of these problems.

But even despite this, only one third of Americans support repealing the law. A sizable bloc of those who oppose the law want it to continue, anyway.

The poll finds that 46 percent support the law, versus 54 percent who oppose it or are unsure of their feelings about it. But that second bloc breaks down into 33 percent who oppose and want repeal, versus 20 percent who oppose the law and want to let the law go ahead. That means a total of 66 percent either support the law or oppose it but want it to go forward.

This is the case, even though a majority believes the law has problems that run deeper than the ones we’re seeing with the web site. And that finding is similar among independents, too.

I asked the Post polling team for a further breakdown. Of those Americans who think the law’s problems run deeper than the Web site, even they are almost evenly divided on whether to give the law a chance. Of that group, 51 percent want it repealed, while 47 either support it or oppose it but want to let it continue.

(Separately, the Post/ABC poll finds — as did a CNN poll today — that a majority of Americans either supports the law or doesn’t think it goes far enough.)

All of this confirms, yet again, that public opinion on the health law is far more nuanced than Republicans claim it is. Only a minority translates its opposition to the law into support for doing away with it. As I’ve speculated here before, Republicans may be making a mistake that’s similar to the one they made about Obama and the economy in 2012, i.e., that Obama is such an obvious failure on the economy that of course they’ll kick him out of office, regardless of what his opponent is offering.

Conservatives continue to claim the public is on their side when it comes to the use of scorched earth tactics against Obamacare – as if the law is such an obvious catastrophe that of course huge numbers of voters will support getting rid of it entirely and will support whatever means are necessary to destroy it. But even now, at a moment when the public is fully aware that the law is running into serious implementation problems, that just isn’t proving to be the case.

Greg Sargent writes The Plum Line blog, a reported opinion blog with a liberal slant -- what you might call “opinionated reporting” from the left.