We now have the best big-picture view of public attitudes toward the Affordable Care Act—and it may disappoint both supporters and opponents of the law. Researchers at Harvard University have published a review of 27 different opinion polls about the Affordable Care Act conducted by 14 different organizations. Here’s one feature teased out by the study, as reported in a Washington Post story on the research:
Most voters say they’re less likely to vote for a congressional candidate supporting the health-care law (40 percent), compared to those who are more likely to (31 percent), according to a September HSPH–Social Science Research Solutions poll. There was naturally a partisan split here, but more Republicans said they were less likely to vote for a candidate supporting the ACA (69 percent) than Democrats said they were more likely to vote for a candidate supporting the ACA (60 percent). About one in four voters said the ACA won’t factor into their vote at all.
Overall, it appears that the public still cares about health care as an issue, even in the upcoming senate elections, but cares about it less than the economy more generally. They don’t like the ACA, but they don’t want it repealed either. This environment clears the ground for candidates who can criticize the law as a whole but don’t favor repeal of all its provisions—someone, for example, like Ohio Governor John Kasich, whose continued popularity seems to bear out this interpretation. Kasich is a Republican who claims to oppose the ACA, yet who also vigorously defends his decision to expand Medicaid in his state.To conservatives and liberals alike, Kasich’s stance on the ACA is nothing but blathering incoherence, and opportunistic at that. And yet, that muddled middle position may reflect exactly where the electorate stands at the moment, and what they wish to see in their politicians.