The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

The Republican health-care proposal is breathtakingly unpopular

Demonstrators protest the attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare outside the offices of Republican congressman Darryl Issa in Vista, Calif., on March 7. (Mike Blake/Reuters)

We’ll start with the bad news for House Speaker Paul D. Ryan.

A new Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday shows that the American Health Care Act, the Republican bill championed by Ryan and due for a vote any minute now, is severely unpopular. Stunningly unpopular.

It is, amazingly enough, less popular than Congress itself.

According to Quinnipiac, only 17 percent of Americans approve of the bill — and only 6 percent of the country supports it strongly. (Congress is approved of by 21 percent of the country.) By contrast, well over half of Americans disapprove of it, 43 percent of them strongly. In other words, more than twice as many people have strongly negative views of the bill than have any positive feelings for it.

Broken down by demographic, the data are grim for Ryan and Republican leaders — including President Trump, who has embraced the plan.

Some things to note:

• A lot of people aren’t very familiar with the legislation, as indicated by those gray bars. But those who are familiar with it are heavily stacked against it, by a 3-to-1 margin.
• Among no demographic group does a majority approve of the bill.
• Among only three groups — Republicans, older Americans and whites without college degrees — does less than half of the population disapprove.
• Only among Republicans and those 65 and older does more than 10 percent of the population approve of the bill strongly.
• In every group except Republicans, more than a third of the population views the legislation strongly negatively.

The three groups that are below 50 percent disapproval are, as you likely noticed, groups that backed Trump strongly in the 2016 election. Across the board, Trump’s approval rating from each demographic group was much higher than the legislation’s approval rating — generally about twice as high.

That’s a problem for Trump personally. We noted Wednesday that people are increasingly viewing his handling of health care negatively.

This suggests that he may pay a personal political price for backing the AHCA. If his core constituencies reject a proposal that he’s made a center of his focus, it’s hard to see how he can maintain strong approval ratings with them. Trump may not be the only one to pay a price: As FiveThirtyEight’s Harry Enten pointed out on Twitter, the bill is much less popular than was Obamacare when it passed — and Obamacare helped contribute to the Democrats getting blown out in the 2010 House elections.

Amazingly, the poll also found that 70 percent of respondents thought that Obamacare should be repealed in full (20 percent) or in part — including 46 percent of Democrats. It’s this bill itself — which may end up being the only chance for any change — is amazingly unpopular.

Now to the good news for Ryan.


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