The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Fresh polls find Republicans’ health-care proposal is still a clunker

Demonstrators opposed to the Senate Republican health-care chant while marching near the U.S. Capitol in Washington on June 28. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg News)

A slew of new national surveys completed during the past week shed light on how voters are reacting to Republicans’ bills to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The surveys show opposition continues to outpace support by a wide margin, with tepid support among Republicans and overwhelming opposition among Democrats.

Comparing polls, there is a range in how much opposition outweighs support. Among recent national live-interviewer polls, the Republicans’ health proposal fares best in a Fox News poll conducted June 25 to 27 that showed 27 percent of registered voters favored and 54 percent opposed the Senate Republican bill released last Thursday, a 2-to-1 margin of opposition. By contrast, a Suffolk University-USA Today poll starting one day earlier found a nearly 4-to-1 margin of opposition (45 percent opposed while 12 percent supported). The margin was similar in a Quinnipiac University poll begun the day Republican senators released their draft bill, with 58 percent who disapproved and 16 percent who approved. A fourth survey released this week by NPR-PBS NewsHour-Marist found a 3-to-1 margin of opposition, with 55 percent who disapproved and 17 percent who approved.

Almost all the polls on the issue had high percentages of people saying they had no opinion, probably as a result of the complicated and changing nature of legislation as well as whether the polling firm explicitly offered respondents a “no opinion” option. For instance, the Suffolk-USA Today survey asked whether respondents support or oppose the GOP plan, “or don't you know enough to have an opinion?” and found 43 percent of registered voters took that option.

There are sharp partisan differences in opinion on the GOP health-care proposals, as there is with the Affordable Care Act, but also a clear imbalance, with Democrats far more united in opposition than Republicans are in support. Across seven polls conducted since mid-month, Democratic opposition varied from 70 percent opposed in the Suffolk-USA Today poll to 84 percent disapproving in the CBS poll and Quinnipiac polls. By contrast, Republicans’ support for the law is lowest at 26 percent in the Suffolk-USA Today poll and highest at 63 percent in the CBS poll, a massive range indicating ambivalence toward their party’s top legislative initiative.

Polls asking about the House and Senate bills don’t appear to show dramatically different results, a sign that as debate over the law has continued, Republicans’ repeal and replace efforts do not appear to be gaining — or losing — popularity.

The polls also asked different groups of people — Fox, Suffolk-USA Today and Quinnipiac polls all interviewed registered voters while the other polls pulled from American adults overall.

Beyond that, each of the seven polls worded their questions on the Republican health-care plan somewhat differently. Fox News asked whether voters favored or opposed the Senate health-care plan that would replace the Affordable Care Act, while NPR-PBS NewsHour-Marist asked whether people approved or disapproved of the Republican health-care plan. And NBC News-Wall Street Journal asked whether Americans thought the House bill was a good idea or bad idea.

Here’s the full wording for each of the seven surveys:

Fox News: “As you may know, the Senate recently released its version of a health care plan that would replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Do you favor or oppose this legislation?”

Suffolk-USA Today: “Senate Republicans have unveiled their proposed healthcare plan to replace Obamacare. Do you support or oppose the GOP plan? Or don’t you know enough to have an opinion?”

Quinnipiac University: “There is a Republican health care plan to replace Obamacare. Do you approve or disapprove of this Republican health care plan?”

NPR-PBS NewsHour-Marist: “From what you have read or heard, do you approve or disapprove of the health care plan Senate Republicans have proposed?”

NBC News-Wall Street Journal: “The health care bill passed by the House is … a good idea or a bad idea?”

CBS News: “As you may know, Republicans in Congress passed a bill in the House of Representatives to repeal and replace the 2010 health care law. From what you have heard or read, do you approve or disapprove this plan?”

Kaiser Family Foundation: “As you may know, Congress is currently discussing a health-care plan that would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Given what you know about this proposed new health-care plan, do you have a generally (favorable) or generally (unfavorable) opinion of it?”