How Unpopular Has Obamacare Become?

Obamacare by from The Weekly Standard, November 11, 2013

Obamacare has now been unpopular for more than an Olympiad—an amazing feat for a law that’s just now going into effect. It’s been unpopular since the summer of 2009—which, come to think of it, is about the time that President Obama first starting saying that if you like your health plan, you can keep your health plan; if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor; and if you’d like some oceanfront property in Arizona, you can have some oceanfront property in Arizona. But it’s particularly interesting to see how much less popular Obamacare has become over the past year.

When Obama won reelection in 2012 over a moderate northeastern Republican who’d never taken a memorable stand against Obamacare, he did so in spite of his centerpiece legislation—not because of it. In an election that Obama won by 4 percentage points (51 to 47 percent), exit polling showed that Americans opposed Obamacare by 5 percentage points (44 percent wanted it to be kept or expanded; 49 percent wanted some or all of it to be repealed). So, Obama’s namesake ran about 10 points behind Obama.

Since then, however, Obamacare’s popularity has sunk to new depths (which, in light of recent developments, is hardly surprising). Exit polling in 2012 showed that Virginians then opposed Obamacare by 1 point (47 percent wanted it kept or expanded; 48 percent wanted it repealed in all or in part). Last week’s exit polling shows that they now oppose it by 7 points (46 percent support it, while 53 percent oppose it), with 41 percent opposing it “strongly”—by far the biggest group.

Up the coast, exit polling in 2012 showed that New Jersey voters then supported Obamacare by 25 points (60 to 35 percent). Last week’s exit polling shows that they now oppose it by 2 points (48 to 50 percent), with 34 percent opposing it “strongly”—again, by far the biggest group.

So, in terms of net support, polling has now swung 6 points against Obamacare in Virginia (from minus-1 point to minus-7 points), and it has swung 27 points against Obamacare in New Jersey (from +25 points to minus-2 points). And that’s compared to 2012, when Obamacare was already plainly unpopular.

One wonders whether 2014 could be shaping up to be a lot like 2010—when, thanks to Obamacare, Republicans gained more House seats while also gaining control of that chamber than they had since a few months before Babe Ruth’s birth, in the late-19th century.

© 2013 by The Weekly Standard. Reprinted with permission.