CNN polls on Obamacare take the added step of asking why people disapprove of the law. Result: CNN polls offer a more nuanced view of public opinion on health care than some others do.
Today’s CNN poll finds that 39 percent of Americans favor Obamacare, while 57 percent oppose it. That’s awful, right? But it turns out only 39 percent oppose the law because it’s “too liberal,” while 12 percent say it “isn’t liberal enough.” That’s a total of 51 percent who favor the law or don’t think it goes far enough.
And if you peek into the internals, it turns out that Republicans and conservatives are the only groups who oppose Obamacare as too liberal. A breakdown:
* 67 percent of Republicans, and 60 percent of conservatives, say the law is too liberal. By contrast…
* Among moderates, only 38 percent say it’s too liberal, while 43 percent favor it and another 9 percent say it’s not liberal enough — a total of 52 percent. Breakdown: 38 say it’s too liberal; 52 percent favor it or say it’s not liberal enough.
* Among independents, only 43 percent say it’s too liberal, while 30 percent favor it and another 14 percent say it’s not liberal enough — a total of 44 percent. Breakdown: 43-44.
* Older people are said to fear or dislike Obamacare, but among people who are 50 and up, only 39 percent say it’s too liberal, while 39 percent favor it and another 11 percent say it’s not liberal enough — a total of 50 percent. Breakdown: 39-50.
* Whites are said to lean Republican, but among them, 46 percent say Obamacare is too liberal, while 34 percent favor it and another12 percent say it’s not liberal enough — a total of 46. Breakdown: 46-46.
This may help explain why repeal remains unpopular. This is admittedly speculative, but it seems plausible that those who say the law isn’t liberal enough are saying they want the health system reformed but are not convinced, for a variety of reasons, among them the daily barrage of negative attacks on the law, that Obamacare will get the job done.
In other words, there’s real generalized disapproval of the law here, and no one is saying this isn’t problematic for Dems, but these probably aren’t folks who don’t want reform at all or want to go back to the old system.
By contrast, Republicans and conservatives who say Obamacare is too liberal perhaps see efforts to reform the system along the lines of the Affordable Care Act as unacceptable government overreach, full stop. At the same time, though, Republican candidates and lawmakers seem increasingly aware that their repeal stance is no longer tenable, particularly as enrollment continues to mount and repeal is becoming increasingly synonymous with taking insurance away from millions of people and replacing it with nothing.
Republican candidates and officials can’t fully embrace repeal, but they can’t embrace alternatives such as the Burr-Hatch plan, either. Witness North Carolina GOP Senate candidate Thom Tillis’ struggle to articulate his repeal stance, or Michigan GOP Senate candidate Terri Lynn Land’s vague embrace of the Medicaid expansion. Meanwhile, as Dylan Scott points out, House Republicans appear uncertain how to proceed, lurching back and forth between votes designed to make them look like constructive legislators on health care and votes designed to pander to the repeal-obsessed base.
Of course, all these nuances in national opinion may not mean much for vulnerable red state Dems, since they are, after all, running for reelection in red states. And the 2014 fundamentals are stacked pretty heavily against Dems. So Republicans might be able to muddle through to a majority on a vague “repeal and replace” message. But there are eight months to go in this election, and enrollment is only going to continue going up, not down.