Poll: Democratic Support for Obamacare Falls 15 Points

Daniel Doherty

3/1/2013 8:15:00 PM - Daniel Doherty

The Washington Examiner’s Philip Klein had an important op-ed out this week making the case that conservatives should not give up the health care fight. And perhaps they shouldn’t: according to a new Kaiser Family Foundation poll -- the first one conducted since the November elections -- support for the Affordable Care Act is plummeting … among Democrats:

Democratic support for President Obama's healthcare law has dropped 15 points since November, contributing to a rise in negative attitudes toward the reform, according to a new poll.

Opponents of the Affordable Care Act currently outnumber supporters (42 percent to 36), according to the Kaiser Family Foundation's latest tracking survey. Public opinion has switched back and forth since the law passed in 2010, and in November, support for the law was 4 percent higher than opposition (43 percent to 39).

Kaiser attributed the marked slide in support among Democrats to a "post-presidential election fade." In November, 72 percent of that group expressed support for the law, compared with 57 percent who feel favorably toward it now.

Unaffiliated voters saw a similar but less dramatic decline in support, with 32 percent approving of the healthcare law compared with 37 percent in November.

"It's difficult to say whether this downward drop will last," Kaiser analysts wrote of the decline in overall support for the law. "Support seems to have shifted to the no-opinion category, up to nearly a quarter, a new high in Kaiser polling."

Obama's win in November cements the future of the Affordable Care Act. Implementation has begun in earnest in anticipation of 2014, when several major provisions will take effect.

Wednesday's poll was Kaiser's first effort since November to survey opinions on healthcare reform.

That last nugget caught my immediate attention: nearly a quarter of those surveyed had “no opinion” whatsoever of the president’s health care law? I find that extremely hard to believe, but if true, seems to suggest that Klein’s analysis is all the more relevant. Here’s an excerpt:

Now that Obamacare has survived a Supreme Court challenge and the 2012 election, it's looking as if conservative activists are reverting back to their typical hibernation on the health care issue.

This is a big mistake. At some point in the future, liberals will be looking to build on Obamacare. Whenever conservatives point out problems with the law, liberals will counter that the problem is that the law left too much of the health care system in the hands of private insurers. Incrementally, liberals will seek to move the nation toward a true government-run, single-payer system.

And if conservatives spend the intervening years between now and then tuning out the health care issue, the liberals just may achieve their long-term goal.

In fairness, Republicans have a lot to be worried about these days: High unemployment, trillion dollar-plus deficits, and a liberal Democrat in the White House who wants to “fundamentally transform” America. But conservatives, according to Klein, will rue the day they ever gave up fighting for sensible, market-based solutions that could, if implemented, fix our broken health care system. We all know what progressives really want -- many of whom have said so on the record. But perhaps now is not the time to give up and concede that the president “won” -- especially if Democrats are finally starting to realize how prohibitively expensive the Affordable Care Act really is.