Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaks during a news conference at the National Press Club on May 1 in Washington. (Olivier Douliery/AFP/Getty Images)

The politics of Obamacare aren't all that complicated. Republicans have called for the Affordable Care Act to be "repealed and replaced" for years, with only sporadic attempts to articulate what the replacement would be. On the Democratic side, the question that's emerged over the course of the primary is whether or not the program should be expanded and improved (Hillary Clinton's argument) or if we should push for a complete overhaul, moving toward a "single-payer" system like Medicare (Bernie Sanders's argument).

In a round of polling conducted this month, Gallup figured out which of those ideas was the most popular. And the result? It's sort of a three-way tie.


Well over half of Americans want to replace Obamacare with a single-payer system. That figure, amazingly, includes 41 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents — even though the wording of the question specifies that the program would be "federally funded." (Mind you, more than half of Republicans oppose the idea.)

The high number of Republicans approving of the idea may be because Republicans are so hostile to the Affordable Care Act. Gallup's polling has consistently shown that Republicans hold strongly negative views of the program. Replacing the ACA with anything probably holds some appeal.

On the Clinton-versus-Sanders question, Democrats are slightly more inclined to back Clinton's theory than Sanders's. Nearly 8 in 10 Democrats want to keep the ACA in place; just under three-quarters want to replace it with single-payer. (Only 16 percent of Republicans want to keep the ACA, which is why single-payer gets the highest support overall.) It's not that simple, though. Fifty-nine percent of Democrats support the idea of both keeping the ACA and replacing it with a single-payer program. Asked to pick between the two, though, that group favors single-payer by a 2-to-1 margin.

What's suggested by these poll results is something of a muddle. Democrats are happy with the ACA but would love single-payer. Republicans hate the ACA and a majority still oppose a federally funded program. The pragmatic result is stasis, which is what Clinton has embraced: making the ACA more palatable and expansive, instead of restarting the fight she lost while her husband was president.

Even if, over the long term, more Americans say they'd be happier with something like what Bernie Sanders has proposed.