A poll released Wednesday offers yet another data point showing the politics of Obamacare aren’t as set in stone as the conventional wisdom would have you believe. Embracing Obamacare isn’t necessarily a political loser, and obstructing it isn’t necessarily a winner.
The New York Times/Kaiser Family Foundation poll surveyed four Southern states that will help determine control of the Senate this fall. It earned headlines for finding the Democrats in better shape in the Senate races than most would have expected.
But it also assessed the popularity of four governors who have taken vastly different approaches to Obamacare — and the findings are a direct contradiction of the narrative that the law is a loser, plain and simple, especially in states like these.
The poll showed Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe (D) and Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear (D), who expanded Medicaid under the law, are hugely popular. Their approval ratings are more than 20 points higher than their disapproval ratings; Beebe holds 68 percent approval, and Beshear is at 56 percent.
But Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) and North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) are at best treading water with their constituents after they declined to expand the program to cover low-income residents. McCrory is middling, with 43 percent approval and 44 percent disapproval, while Jindal is 14 percent underwater at 40 percent approval and 54 percent disapproval.
The poll findings don’t necessarily suggest causation: Beebe and Beshear are long-serving governors who are likely popular for a number of reasons. Likewise, Jindal has had a rocky tenure outside of the Affordable Care Act, and McCrory is enduring a scandal related to environmental regulation. It is also just one poll out of many, though it tracks with other findings.
But they do continue to sink the notion that Obamacare support is an abject disaster politically, particularly in states that voted against President Barack Obama in the presidential elections. Beebe and Beshear enjoy an unthinkable popularity for most politicians, while Jindal and McCrory are struggling to win over their constituents.
Participating in the law didn’t doom the former; rejecting it didn’t lift the latter. Paired with the unexpectedly good Senate results for Democrats, the political narrative that Obamacare will carry Republicans to victory by default appears more and more shaky.