Most Americans don’t want Obamacare repealed, new poll finds

President Donald Trump has promised to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace the health care law.
President Donald Trump has promised to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace the health care law. AP

There’s little support for repealing Obamacare, a new McClatchy-Marist Poll finds.

Fifty-eight percent of Americans either want the Affordable Care Act to remain a law or to change it so that it does more.

Only 31 percent want to see it repealed completely, while another 7 percent want to see it changed to do less. Yet the Republican-led Congress has already taken the first steps to kill the 7-year-old law, and President Donald Trump is fully supportive.

“The fact that Obamacare is something that people would miss if it were gone, we’re seeing that not only in poll numbers, but at the town hall meetings and, I think, in the reluctance of the administration and Congress to move as quickly as they claimed they would to repeal it,” said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, which conducted the nationwide survey.

America’s view of the health law is still sharply divided along political lines. The McClatchy-Marist phone survey found 68 percent of Republicans want the law completely repealed and 88 percent of Democrats want to retain the law or change it do more. Twenty-nine percent of independents favored repeal, while 58 percent preferred the status quo or changes to strengthen it.

Some parts of the law were overwhelmingly popular.

The poll found Republicans, Democrats, Tea Party supporters, college graduates, blacks, whites and Hispanics all want to retain the ACA requirement that insurance companies offer coverage to all despite pre-existing medical conditions.

Similar broad-based support was shown for covering children up to age 26 on their parents’ health plan. The poll found supporters outnumbered opponents 4 to 1.

“Not only Democrats and independents, but also many Republicans are seeing things in Obamacare that they don’t want eliminated,” Miringoff said.

There’s Republican support, though, for halting federal subsidies under the ACA to help lower income people pay for coverage, the poll found.

The individual mandate continues to be the most unpopular provision of the law, with 50 percent of registered voters saying it should be repealed, while 45 percent want the law to remain intact. The law requires most people to obtain coverage or face a penalty.

Affordable Care Act supporters have been making their case against repeal more forcefully during the current congressional recess at town hall meetings and other political gatherings.

Republican lawmakers such as Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa, and Reps. Dave Brat of Virginia, Buddy Carter of Georgia and Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee faced hostile crowds at town hall events. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., faced tough questions about Obamacare at a meeting with constituents in Kentucky.

Other recent polls have reflected support levels for Obamacare similar to those in the McClatchy-Marist poll. Wednesday, a POLITICO/Morning Consult poll found voters were evenly split on the law, with 45 percent approving and 45 percent disapproving. A similar poll in January, before Trump became president, found 52 percent disapproved of the law while 41 percent approved.


How the Survey was Conducted

This survey of 1,073 adults was conducted Feb. 15-19, 2017, by The Marist Poll, sponsored and funded in partnership with McClatchy. Adults 18 years of age and older residing in the contiguous United States were contacted on landline or mobile numbers and interviewed in English by telephone using live interviewers. Landline telephone numbers were randomly selected based upon a list of telephone exchanges from throughout the nation from ASDE Survey Sampler, Inc. The exchanges were selected to ensure that each region was represented in proportion to its population. Respondents in the household were randomly selected by first asking for the youngest male. This landline sample was combined with respondents reached through random dialing of cell phone numbers from Survey Sampling International. After the interviews were completed, the two samples were 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 865 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-tabulation.