A highly problematic rollout didn’t trigger an immediate shift in public opinion of the Affordable Care Act, but that resilience shattered in November.
Two polls released this week showed public support for the law cratering. A Quinnipiac University poll conducted Nov. 6-11 found 55 percent of all Americans opposed to the Affordable Care Act, with only 39 percent in support.
Gallup’s latest survey conducted Nov. 7-10 essentially mirrored those findings: 40 percent said they approve of Obamacare, while 55 percent said they disapprove. The 15-point approval deficit is the largest in Gallup’s polling over the past year.
Each poll represents a huge reversal from only a month ago. A Quinnipiac poll in October showed a near-even split: 45 percent said they supported it, compared with 47 percent who said they opposed the law. Gallup’s previous survey conducted in late-October found almost an identical divide — 44 percent approved of the law and 47 percent disapproved.
Popularity of the Affordable Care Act has always been mixed at best but polling on the law changed very little throughout October, a month that saw the law’s technical problems become the subject of congressional hearings and widespread mockery. Almost across the board, polling on Obamacare looked the same in the weeks immediately following its Oct. 1 launch as it did before.
The steep drop shown in this week’s polls is ostensibly evidence of the political damage from President Barack Obama wrongly promising consumers that they could keep their current health plans under the law.
Quinnipiac found that nearly half of Americans — 46 percent — believe Obama “knowingly deceived” the public when he made the promise. Forty-seven percent said he did not.
The poll showed that a plurality, 43 percent, believe the law will make their lives worse in the next year, while only 19 percent said it will improve their lives. Moreover, Quinnipiac found Obama’s approval rating sinking to an all-time low of 39 percent, with 60 percent disapproving of his handling of health care.
The Obama administration announced Wednesday that only 106,185 people nationwide have enrolled in private health coverage through the Affordable Care Act’s exchanges. Administration officials argued that the enrollment figures, while underwhelming, still showed that there is demand for coverage.
But the problems have caused plenty of handwringing among Democrats worried that they may pay a price at the polls for the law.
House Democrats reportedly unloaded on White House officials during a closed-door meeting Wednesday and threatened to support a Republican-proposed “fix” to the law unless Obama offered a viable alternative.
The President announced his own administrative fix to the law during a nationally televised news conference on Thursday.