Americans Favor Obamacare Over GOP Replacements Two-To-One

New polling indicates that the Affordable Care Act has gained in popularity with the American public, while Republican reform efforts are viewed overwhelmingly negatively.


A new poll indicates that the American public opposes the Republican health care reform plan and that support for the Affordable Care Act is hitting new highs:

Republicans racing to pass a bill that would overhaul the Affordable Care Act (better known as Obamacare) certainly understand that their efforts aren’t polling well. In survey after survey, a majority of respondents view their legislative proposals unfavorably. At the same time, survey after survey shows Obamacare as more popular than not.

In the new Washington Post-ABC News poll released Sunday, we decided to ask the question directly: Which do you prefer, Obamacare or the Republican replacement plan?

By a 2-to-1 margin — 50 percent to 24 percent — Americans said they preferred Obamacare.

There’s a split by party, as you might expect, with Democrats broadly favoring the existing law and Republicans the latter. But that split wasn’t even, with 77 percent of Democrats favoring the legislation passed in 2010 by their party and only 59 percent of Republicans favoring their party’s solution. Independents in this case came down on the side of the Democrats, with 49 percent favoring the existing law vs. 20 percent backing the GOP alternative.

What’s more, roughly 6 in 10 Democrats and a third of independents strongly prefer Obamacare. Only 43 percent of Republicans strongly prefer their party’s proposal.

Some respondents, unprompted, said they preferred some other proposal, or neither. One in 10 Democrats offered one of those responses, while about 2 in 10 Republicans and independents did.

More worrisome for Republicans hoping to pass a new bill is how the support broke out by demographic. Only among Republicans, conservatives, white evangelicals and white men without college degrees did more Americans support the GOP bill than Obamacare. In every other group analyzed, including older respondents and white women without college degrees — an important part of President Trump’s voting base in 2016 — backed the existing law by some margin.

This polling mirrors other recent polls that show both the Senate and House reform bills to be widely unpopular both in the nation as a whole and among nearly all demographic groups with the exception of self-identified Republicans, although it’s worth noting that even their support is not nearly as high as you might expect it to be. At the same time, the Affordable Care Act has seemingly become more popular as the debate over the GOP’s various plans as intensified in Congress. One measure of that can be seen in the RealClearPolitics tracking average of polling on the Affordable Care Act where the current average shows the American public favoring the Affordable Care Act to be at an average of 46.8%, while an average of 43.0% oppose the law, The numbers from Pollster are similar, with an average of 47.8% favoring the PPACA and 42.6% opposing it. This continues a trend that shows public sentiment about the law turning positive at roughly the same time that President Trump came into office, which is perhaps an indication that much of the opposition to the Affordable Care Act was driven more by opposition to President Obama than it was to the details of the law itself.

In another new poll that could prove troubling for Republicans, a majority of Americans disapprove of the way President Trump is handling health care:

Americans view healthcare as the most important issue facing the country but are doubtful Congress will pass legislation lowering premiums and covering more people, according to a Bloomberg poll released Monday.

With the GOP push to repeal-and-replace ObamaCare serving as the poll’s backdrop, 35 percent of Americans surveyed indicated healthcare was their top issue, more than twice as many as any other option. The other leading issues included unemployment and jobs (13 percent), terrorism (11 percent), immigration (10 percent) and climate change (also 10 percent).

A majority, 64 percent, disapproves of how President Trump is handling healthcare, compared to 28 percent approving.

With a Senate vote on the GOP’s latest revision of their ‘repeal and replace’ bill delayed due to John McCain recovering from surgery over the weekend, this is precisely the wrong news for the Senate GOP leadership. To the extent that there are Senators wavering out there, and there may be as many as half a dozen on that list right now, numbers like these are unlikely to convince them to get behind the Senate bill, especially if they are people such as Nevada’s Dean Heller who is widely viewed as the most electorally vulnerable Republican in 2018. Meanwhile, in other news, the Congressional Budget Office announced over the weekend that its score of the revised Senate bill, which had been expected, would be delayed until later in the week:

There’s another possible delay to the Senate’s consideration of a Republican bill to repeal and replace the Obama administration healthcare law.

The Congressional Budget Office had been scheduled to release an analysis on the latest GOP bill on Monday, including its estimated cost and scope of insurance coverage.

But the Senate Budget Committee on Sunday said the release had been postponed. The committee did not provide an explanation or indicate when the analysis was expected, saying it will provide further information and updates as appropriate.

This delay appears to be connected to the delay in Senate consideration of the revised bill, but it may also be due to the fact that the CBO will also be scoring the so-called Cruz Amendment along with the revised bill itself. Under that amendment, insurers would be free to offer plans that don’t comply with the minimum coverage requirements of the law and offer them for sale to consumers. Health care policy analysts and health insurers alike have criticized the amendment, saying that it would disrupt the insurance risk pool to a significant degree and potentially lead some consumers to purchase insurance that would not cover them adequately in the event of a major illness. With these delays, opposition to the amendment seems only likely to grow.

FILED UNDER: Climate Change, Healthcare Policy, Public Opinion Polls, Terrorism, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. teve tory says:

    Patients hate it. Doctors hate it. Hospitals hate it. Governors hate it. Insurance companies just put out a virtually first-ever joint statement saying they hate it.

    Why is this bill even remotely alive?

  2. teve tory says:

    Even God’s trying to stop this bill by using McCain to show everyone how important government-provided health care can be.

  3. Joe says:

    As I said in another thread, they only need to find 51 people in America who like it. They may have. As it turns out, they are all Republican senators (and/or a Republican VP).

  4. grumpy realist says:
  5. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @teve tory:

    Why is this bill even remotely alive?

    Because Republicans do not care about any of those people. Only their rich donors…and those rich donors are getting a tax cut…dammit!!!

  6. michael reynolds says:

    This is equal parts cutting taxes for billionaires and racist spite for the base. This bill doesn’t even pretend to do anything useful, it is mere vandalism, like the Taliban blowing up statues they don’t like. It makes things worse, the GOP knows it, and the fact that they push on knowing that they will be hurting their own voters tells you everything you need to know about the personality disorder that is Republicanism.

  7. Kylopod says:

    Does anyone remember that time when dinosaurs ruled the earth and the eternal unpopularity of Obamacare was the GOP’s premier talking point? In fact it was just about the only type of public opinion poll Republicans ever cited. They cited it at every opportunity, for every one of their causes. So if they, say, wanted to shut down the government, they said they were doing it because the public hates O-care, and they’d conveniently ignore the fact that polls also show the public hates government shutdowns. At the time I called this mode of argumentation the Ted Cruz Principle, though he was hardly the only one: it was practically the entire party’s modus operandi.

    What was amazing was the way Republicans treated Obamacare polls like they were the only polls that ever existed or mattered. And no wonder: for years now, virtually the entire GOP agenda has been unpopular. Poll after poll after poll has long shown that the public favors increasing taxes on the rich, raising the minimum wage, leaving Medicare and Social Security alone, giving illegal immigrants a path to citizenship, and on and on and on. Indeed the public has always favored some form of universal health care, and even the Obamacare polls were always misleading because whenever the polls bothered to break down people’s actual attitudes about the law (for instance, look at the Kaiser polls published since the law was passed), it turned out that a majority either supported the law or wanted it expanded. But most of the polls only used the simplistic binary “Do you support or oppose Obamacare?” framing, lumping together those who wanted it expanded with those who wanted it destroyed. And that’s not even getting into the fact that (partly due to GOP propaganda, partly to a poor campaign by the Dems) the public has long been woefully ignorant about what was actually in the law, and most of the law’s individual provisions always polled well.

    So now, the party whose prime argument against the Democrats for years was that they passed and stood by a law that was arguably unpopular are now prepared to pass a law that is vastly more unpopular than Obamacare ever was, at a time when Obamacare itself is now unquestionably popular. Just sayin’.

  8. Jack says:

    Are these the same polls that on 7 Nov 2016, predicted “Hillary Clinton has a 70 percent chance of winning the election”?

    We all know how that turned out, don’t we?

  9. Kylopod says:


    Are these the same polls that on 7 Nov 2016, predicted “Hillary Clinton has a 70 percent chance of winning the election”?

    You clearly don’t understand how probability works. Indeed, your entire statement is confused: 538 didn’t “predict that Clinton had a 70 percent chance of winning,” they estimated that her chances of winning were 70%, which means they gave Trump a significant chance of pulling off an upset.

    The fact that Trump won doesn’t prove that their estimate was “wrong.” Events with 30% likelihood happen quite often. (Specifically, they happen roughly 1/3rd of the time.) Let me break it down for you: if you’re flipping a coin and I say there’s a 25% chance of you getting tails twice in a row, and then you do get tails twice in a row, that doesn’t prove that I was “wrong.” Indeed, my statement is mathematically provable.

    As I mentioned in the other thread yesterday, a few days before the election 538 posted an article stating that Trump was just a normal polling error away from defeating Clinton. In other words, their estimates were based on how likely they believed the polls were to be accurate in 2016, based on past experience. Public opinion polls have a decent track record of predicting elections, but not a perfect one. That’s why 538 was cautious and didn’t give Clinton a 98% chance of winning, as sites like HuffPost and Sam Wang’s did.

    Moreover, only a tiny polling error is needed to change the outcome of a close election. The popular-vote polls in 2016 were off by about 1-2% on average, and in certain crucial swing states they were off by a bit more. But none of them were anywhere close to 20-30% off, as these health care polls you’re trying to dismiss would have to be to suit your argument. You seem to think the only two possibilities are that all public opinion polls are 100% reliable or completely useless. I should hope you don’t apply that philosophy to other things in life. You’d wind up never leaving your house.

  10. teve tory says:

    @Jack: You don’t math good.

  11. teve tory says:

    No surprise Jack misunderstands basic math. I’ve never seen him understand anything about anything.

  12. al-Alameda says:


    Are these the same polls that on 7 Nov 2016, predicted “Hillary Clinton has a 70 percent chance of winning the election”?

    You really do not understand statistics, do you?

    Trump had to run the table in every toss-up state, and he did.

    Nate Silver at 538 had Hillary winning the popular vote by 3 points – he was right. The difference between winning and losing was 77,000 votes in 3 states.

  13. DrDaveT says:

    The stunner is not that 2/3 of Americans prefer a hamburger to a thumb in the eye. The stunner is that a majority of Republicans prefer a thumb in the eye. Presumably because they assume it will be someone else’s eye.

  14. MarkedMan says:

    We are in danger of losing sight of something incredibly imporatant amidst all the drama that is total Republican governance: the modern Republican has no ability to govern. I’m not being clever or facetious here. In any given congress in days of yore there was a mixture of reps and senators that –

    a) Had coherent opinions and knew how to craft good legislation
    b) Had no opinions (followed the party line) and knew how to craft good legislation
    c) Had coherent opinions and looked to others to craft the legislation
    d) Had no opinions and looked to others to craft the legislation
    e) Had incoherent opinions and couldn’t legislate
    f) Were close to insane

    In the ’50s, ’60s or ’70s I would guess that a&b each had 5%, c had maybe 20%, d was about 50% and e had all but 1% of the remainder. Regardless of party.

    Today the Dems have all the legislative talent. Love it their acts or hate them, they make internal legislative sense, rules can be crafted for them, the rules can then be implemented and those rules generally work when enforced. There are no people left in the Republican congress that have any talent or capability. And they don’t even reach the starting point because they don’t have coherent opinions of any kind. Anyone who understands anything of how things work in the real world have been driven from the party five years ago or more. For a while, there was a scattering of Republicans with no coherent opinions but who knew how to legislate, but Boehner was the last of them and he was drummed out for being too realist. The entire Republican caucus in both houses fall into the d, e and f categories. If anyone challenges that, I point you to the incoherent mess that is Republi-care. Put aside that it is monstrous. It is completely incoherent. And yes, like several other major pieces of legislation offered by Republicans in the past couple of years, it makes basic mistakes in arithmetic that make the whole thing unworkable. Even if you accept their goals (which I’m not sure you can, because they are, well, incoherent) this is a piece of legislation that would embarrass a high school civics class.

    The Republicans were elected from a pool of talent that could thrive in the ludicrous cesspool that is the conservative political-entertainment complex. And once they were seen to be serious contenders they were feted and poofed by a bunch of billionaire frat boys that never got over their Ayn Rand hard on. Anyone with sense got out of politics or joined the Dems.

  15. michael reynolds says:

    I wrote a comment earlier pointing out that if Trumpcare is secretly popular I wonder why the Great Deal Maker, the ole’ pussy-grabber can’t get the Republican senate to pass it? But it was caught in the spam filter.

    But now? Now I’ll just say: Ah hah hah hah hah hah hah.

    It’s dead, Jack. Seven years, sixty plus ‘repeals’ and the law of the land remains. . . say it with me, Jack. . . Obamacare.

  16. DrDaveT says:

    If anyone challenges that

    Actually, I will challenge that. Your larger point stands, but there has been a functional core — not merely of GOP legislation but of bipartisan consensus — in the armed services committees. They have been passing annual significant — even sweeping — legislation affecting military compensation and retirement benefits, organization of the Department of Defense, acquisition reform, etc. I don’t agree with all of it, but it is generally coherent and functional.

    There is a bitter irony in the idea that the one area where bipartisan consensus and compromise still seems to work is an area that Republicans generally claim Democrats don’t get, don’t value, and are “soft on”.

  17. Tony W says:

    @michael reynolds: McConnell has officially given up on the Repeal and Replace bill.

    Now it’s just repeal. They can’t wait to go back to the good old days

  18. MarkedMan says:

    @DrDaveT: That’s good to hear.

  19. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    As pointed out above…Turtle Face has pulled the plug on Trumpcare.
    So much winning. I’m bored with all the winning. Watching Snowflake, the master deal-maker, in action is like a master class in deal making. Books will be written about how he has re-made DC in his image. Picture the Capital Dome with a terrible orange comb-over. The way he has gotten Washington in line behind him is nothing short of artful. Poetry in politics.
    It’s really easy to make statement votes you know aren’t going anywhere…like the 61 votes to repeal Obamacare. Now we are seeing that Republicans complete dis-interest in actually governing is making it very difficult for them to…you know…actually govern.
    So now they will vote on straight repeal. I really don’t see how that flies at this point. But Don the Con is a winner!!! so who knows?

  20. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:


    Are these the same polls that on 7 Nov 2016, predicted “Hillary Clinton has a 70 percent chance of winning the election”?

    Who knew that math could be so hard, eh Jack? Can you even balance your check-book? Are you able to calculate gas mileage? If you leave for the airport at 9:00am, and it takes you :30 minutes to get there, what time will you arrive, Jack? If Hannity comes on at 10:00pm, and it’s 9:55pm, how long before you start masturbating, Jack?
    Apparently Republicans hate public education because they were the ones who never paid attention in class, never learned a damn thing, and still got to graduate.

  21. mwh191 says:


    The polls predicted that Hillary Clinton would get more votes than donald trump. Turns out the polls were right.

  22. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    Dumb Don can’t get anything done…he’s accomplished absolutely nothing of consequence in 6 months. But he did get to sit in a fire-truck!!!

  23. Moosebreath says:

    @michael reynolds:

    “It’s dead, Jack. Seven years, sixty plus ‘repeals’ and the law of the land remains. . . say it with me, Jack. . . Obamacare.”

    Sorry, Michael, but I will not believe Republican attempts to repeal Obamacare are dead until they start using the correct name for it and try to take credit for it. I expect them to keep after it in new and different ways as long as they have at least 1 house of Congress or the Presidency.

  24. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Tony W:

    I’m not sure that I can handle all of this winning 😀

  25. de stijl says:


    When your win meter pegs out for too long, it stops registering wins correctly. Basically, it gets tired.

    The fact that we’re not seeing wins is that we’ve already had so many and in such rapid succession, we lack the proper instrumentation to measure it correctly. QED.

  26. teve tory says:

    congrats to Dems for sticking together 100% against this garbage.

  27. Tyrell says:

    The question should have been “would you favor a health plan that costs less, covers more, has more available options, and has a lower deductible ?”