| Daily Data Point: Explaining the ACA’s Increased Popularity
by Sean Trende
One of the mainstays in American politics over the past eight years has been the unpopularity of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Consider: Across 2010, Obamacare averaged a 39.9 percent favorability rating in the RealClearPolitics Polling Average. In 2011, it was 39.1. In 2012 it was 40.2. From 2013 to 2016, the averages were 40.4, 39.4, 41.4, and 40.4 percent. We don’t see stability like that in American politics very often.
This year, however, the average approval for Obamacare is 45.9 percent; if you remove the outlying AP/GfK poll from February, the average is 46.7 percent. What changed? Part of it is loss avoidance; when the possibility that the ACA would be repealed became real, people focused more on the things that they liked about it than the things they disliked. Part of it is probably partisanship; Democrats who disapproved of the law because they believed that it didn’t go far enough now see it as primarily a partisan issue against Donald Trump.
Regardless, this poses a challenge for Republicans as they once again toy with the idea of substantially scaling back the previous president’s signature achievement.