Barack Obama — whose verbal brutalization of Donald Trump at the 2011 White House correspondents’ dinner has been credited by some with setting Trump down the path toward seeking political revenge — still knows how to dig at his successor where it hurts.
At an event in Manhattan this week, the former president reportedly made a simple claim that’s sure to get under the current president’s skin: The Affordable Care Act — a.k.a. Obamacare — is more popular than Trump himself.
“The Affordable Care Act has never been more popular,” Obama said, according to CNN, “and it’s more popular than the current president.”
Now, it is the nature of polls that the way you ask a question and the people you ask and the margins of error mean that you can cherry-pick two polls that show Trump outperforming the Affordable Care Act. But overall? Data from HuffPost Pollster indicates that Obama was right.
Consider all approval polling for Trump’s job performance since taking office on Jan. 20 vs. polling on Obamacare. Neither is above 50 percent approval, but, consistently, polling for Obamacare is floating on top of the numbers for Trump.
This has been the case for a while. Both Trump and Obamacare saw an increase in popularity after the election, the former thanks to a small version of the traditional bump for a president-elect and the latter thanks to the increased threat that the Affordable Care Act might be repealed. The overall trend, though, is the same. Obamacare is consistently a bit more popular than the man who wants to overturn it.
We can look at this another way. If you look at days when polling was completed on both Obamacare and Trump (either job approval or favorability), Obamacare was almost always polling higher. It doesn’t matter the pollster or when or what was asked: On 49 of the 57 days there were poll results for both, Obamacare was viewed more positively.
This doesn’t tell us a whole lot we didn’t already know. After all, Trump was slightly less popular than Hillary Clinton, too, which is why he lost the popular vote; it makes sense that he’d be slightly less popular than a piece of legislation viewed largely through a partisan lens.
But for a president that once loved to brag about his poll numbers, the comment has to sting at some level — which, of course, is precisely what Obama hopes.
Aaron Blake inspired one of the graphs in this article.