The ACA was just handed its worst opinion poll numbers yet. The Kaiser Family Foundation’s July poll found that 53 percent of respondents view the law unfavorably, up 8 percentage points since June. As WaPo reports, that’s the highest unfavorable we’ve seen and one of the biggest monthly swings in either direction.
Something else besides the numbers make this anti-ACA spike significant, however. First is the fact that the poll shows this spike occurring just as holdouts are finally beginning to make up their mind about the ACA. The number of respondents who were “without an opinion” on the ACA was 11 percent in July, compared to 16 percent in June. More people are forming an opinion, and increasingly that opinion is negative. Second, there is no obvious cause for this shift:
“Normally, when negatives go up, you can tie it to an event,” said foundation chief executive Drew Altman in an interview. Events like a broken enrollment Web site, or people losing their health plans.
That doesn’t seem to be case here, though. The poll was conducted before a federal appeals courts split on the legality subsidies in the 36 states with federal exchanges, and before House Republicans formally advanced plans to sue President Obama over his failure to enforce the law’s employer coverage mandate. Yet, the poll was conducted after a string of surveys showing that the nation’s uninsured rate has dropped significantly since Obamacare’s coverage expansion took effect this year.
This is almost a worst-case scenario for the ACA. Even with a string of favorable (or an least not unfavorable) news prior to this poll, the public was in the midst of breaking against the ACA. Those who previously had no opinion are being won over to the opposition, and once a choice like that is made it takes a lot to swing someone back over to the other side.
None of this necessarily means that repeal is politically possible. It’s not uncommon for people to be opposed to a law and also oppose scrapping it entirely. But for the law’s supporters and architects, this has to be troubling news.