A growing majority of Americans – including a sharply increasing number of Republicans – oppose an outright repeal of Obamacare, according to a new McClatchy-Marist Poll, signaling trouble for Republicans still hoping to dismantle the 2010 health care law.
Efforts to repeal and replace the law collapsed last week, after GOP lawmakers couldn’t agree on an alternative health care system.
Sixty-five percent of registered voters either want to see the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare, maintained as is or strengthened, a seven-point uptick over a February McClatchy-Marist poll that asked the same question. The new poll was conducted between March 22 and 27. Republicans ended last week’s effort to pass a health care plan on March 24.
Among Republicans, support for repeal plunged. Fifty-seven percent said Obamacare should be completely repealed, but that’s an 11 point drop since the February McClatchy-Marist Poll.
“These Republican numbers suggest at the base there has been some erosion,” said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, which conducted the survey.
“Times have changed,” he said.
The numbers against repeal dwarfed those who support weakening or completely doing away with the law. Twenty-six percent of registered voters responded they wanted Obamacare repealed all together, with another 7 percent saying they want it amended to do less.
Miringoff said the poll’s findings indicates Americans could potentially support changes to Obamacare – but only if that means widening the scope of its coverage.
“In terms of the notion of ‘repeal and replace,’ a repeal is only acceptable if the replacement is actually an expansion, not a contraction” Miringoff said.
The sentiment among Americans to keep the Affordable Care Act as is, or change it so it does more, greatly exceeds those who want to repeal it completely or change it so it does less
Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion
Opinion fell on party lines. An overwhelming majority of Democrats, 91 percent, said Obamacare should be strengthened or kept as is. The poll also found 68 percent of independents hold that same view, including 54 percent who said the law should be expanded to do more.
A growing minority of Republicans – 23 percent – said the law often derided by conservative lawmakers should be strengthened, with another seven percent saying it should be maintained in its current form.
On Friday, House Speaker Paul Ryan and President Donald Trump agreed to pull the American Health Care Act, designed to replace Obamacare, from the House floor because they didn’t have enough Republican votes for its passage. Republicans have a 237 to 193 seat majority in the House.
Both members of the GOP’s conservative and moderate wings had problems with the bill. Conservatives said it was too similar to Obamacare while moderates feared it went too far in taking away the law’s protections.
The American Health Care Act also found meager support among Americans. A March Quinnipiac University poll found 56 percent disapproved of the Republican plan to undermine Obamacare, with just 17 percent responding in favor. Only 41 percent of Republicans backed the bill, with 24 percent in opposition.
That Republican-backed proposal, Miringoff said, likely spurred this swing toward supporting Obamacare.
“There was a comparison between what we have now and the notion that millions of people would lose health care, and that some of those people were people who voted for Donald Trump,” he said. “It’s a dramatic shift in something that has been there for a while. Nothing changed in Obamacare, so the new thing was Trump or Ryancare”
How the survey was conducted
This survey of 1,062 adults was conducted March 22-27 by The Marist Poll, sponsored and funded in partnership with McClatchy. People 18 and older residing in the contiguous United States were contacted on landline or mobile numbers and interviewed in English by telephone using live interviewers. Mobile telephone numbers were randomly selected based on a list of telephone exchanges from throughout the nation from Survey Sampling International. The exchanges were selected to ensure that each region was represented in proportion to its population. Mobile phones are treated as individual devices. After validation of age, personal ownership and non-business use of the mobile phone, interviews are typically conducted with the person answering the phone. To increase coverage, this mobile sample was supplemented by respondents reached through random dialing of landline phone numbers from ASDE Survey Sampler Inc. Within each landline household, a single respondent is selected through a random selection process to increase the representativeness of traditionally undercovered survey populations. The samples were then combined and balanced to reflect the 2013 American Community Survey one-year estimates for age, gender, income, race and region. Results are statistically significant within ±3.0 percentage points. There are 906 registered voters. The results for this subset are statistically significant within ±3.3 percentage points. The error margin was not adjusted for sample weights and increases for cross-tabulations.