Majority Supports SCOTUS Decisions On Obamacare And Marriage, According To New Poll

A new poll shows that solid majorities of Americans support the Supreme Court's decisions on Obamacare subsidies and marriage. It's a different story for Republicans.

Supreme Court Issues Multiple Rulings

A poll conducted by CNN in the wake of the Supreme Court’s rulings last week finds that a majority of Americans support both the decision on Affordable Care Act subsidies and the decision in Obergefell striking down the remaining state law bans on same-sex marriage:

Most Americans say they support each of the two major Supreme Court rulings issued late last week, and nearly four in 10 now say they view the Court as too liberal.

According to a new CNN/ORC poll, 63% support the Court’s ruling upholding government assistance for lower-income Americans buying health insurance through both state-operated and federally-run health insurance exchanges. Slightly fewer, 59%, say they back the ruling which made same-sex marriages legal in all 50 states.

Support for each ruling is sharply divided by party, with most Democrats and independents behind both, and most Republicans opposed to both.

Democrats are more apt to say they back the ruling on the 2010 health care law sometimes referred to as Obamacare — 79% back it — than they are to support the same-sex marriage decision, of which 70% favor. Among Republicans, 54% said they oppose the ruling on health care, while 59% oppose the ruling on same-sex marriage, not a statistically-significant difference. Among independents, 63% support each ruling.

The 37% of Americans who say they see the Court as too liberal is the highest share to say so in CNN polling dating back to 1993. Fewer, 20%, say they feel the Court is too conservative and 40% see it as about right.

In a CNN/ORC poll in 2012, just after the Court issued its first ruling upholding part of the health care law, 30% said they felt the Court was too liberal, 22% that it was too conservative.

Republicans are most apt in the new poll to say the Court’s ideology is too far to the left: 69% see the Court as too liberal. That’s up from 2012, when 59% of Republicans called it too liberal.

Among Democrats, 34% now say they see the Court as too conservative and 15% too liberal, 49% say the Court is about right. In 2012, just 6% of Democrats described the Court as too liberal, but the share calling it too conservative was about the same at 35%.

These numbers aren’t entirely surprising, of course, since they largely reflect where public opinion was before the Court handed down the two most high profile decisions of its term last month. On marriage, polling in late May had shown that support for same-sex marriage had reached its highest point ever with all trends pointing upward, while another poll showed that a majority of Americans said they would support a Supreme Court decision that found a right to same-sex marriage nationwide. On the Obamacare subsidies issue, a poll in early June showed that a majority of Americans said they wanted the Supreme Court to uphold subsidies for consumers who bought insurance on the exchanges set up by the Federal Government and that, if the Court ruled otherwise, that Congress should act to fix the statute. Given this, it’s fair to say that, based on the results at least, the Supreme Court was in line with public opinion in both of the two major opinions it issued in the last month of its term.

Perhaps the most interesting and yet unsurprising data points in this poll come when you look at the breakdown based on political identifications. While majorities of Democrats and Independents, as well as self-described liberals and and moderates, all strongly support both Supreme Court decisions the same is not true of the Republicans and self-identified conservatives. On the question regarding the Affordable Care Act decision, the Court’s ruling is opposed by 54% of Republicans and supported by 42% and opposed by 51% of conservatives and opposed by 44%. On the same-sex marriage ruling, the decision is supported by 40% of Republicans and opposed by 59% and supported by 34% and opposed by 65%. In both cases, one could argue that the opposition to the Court’s decision is actually lower than might have been expected, but the numbers are still sufficiently high that it largely explains the rhetoric that we’re seeing from many of the Republican candidates for President. While the nation as a whole seems to be fairly pleased with the decisions that the Court handed down, most Republican, and especially most conservatives, most certainly are not. Presumably, if these numbers were broken down further to find the opinions of hardcore and social conservatives such as those that play such an important role in early primary states such as Iowa, they would show that opposition is even stronger. Because of that, it is necessary for Republicans running for President to say what they have been saying over the past several days, although I am sure many of them actually believe it too. In any case, the interesting thing to watch will be how their pandering to the Republican base in the wake of these decisions influences how they’re perceived outside the Republican Party, which of course matters once a General Election rolls around.

FILED UNDER: 2016 Election, Healthcare Policy, Law and the Courts, Public Opinion Polls, Supreme Court, 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. Ron Beasley says:

    Republican opposition to the ACA was never so much about the act itself but the fact that it was proposed by that black man illegally residing in the White House.
    The gay rights/marriage objections are the result of the Republicans nurturing a base that wants to live in a 16th century with electricity. It is a blow back from the “Southern Strategy.” It worked for a couple of generations sort of but as Doug says the Republicans have only won the popular vote in 1 of the last 7 presidential elections and the electoral map is no longer in their favor.

  2. C. Clavin says:

    Hmmm….the majority of Americans prefer that people not be one serious illness away from financial ruin, and that people be free to love whomever they want to love…but Republicans want people to be one serious illness away from financial ruin, and don’t want people to be free to love whomever they want?
    You don’t say….

  3. R.Dave says:

    Totally off-topic, but is anyone else getting automatically forwarded to the Uber website when accessing the OTB website on a mobile device? When it happens, I can’t even press the back button, because it seems to think is the first site I went to in the tab. Super frustrating.

  4. Kylopod says:

    According to a new CNN/ORC poll, 63% support the Court’s ruling upholding government assistance for lower-income Americans buying health insurance through both state-operated and federally-run health insurance exchanges.

    And that one sentence should permanently put to rest one the great myths of the past few years: the notion that “Obamacare” isn’t popular.

    If you like the central policy that a law puts into effect, then by definition you do not dislike the law.

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    In other news, a majority of Republicans continue to refuse to enter the 19th Century.

  6. Neil Hudelson says:


    Yeah, the OTB ads have been all over the place: Autoplay videos that automatically scroll all the way to the bottom of the page, over and over again; automatic forwards to a gardening website and uber, and periodically ads that take over a large part of the screen (rare, but becoming more common).

    In the past, IIRC, James has said that they work with 3rd party vendors to control ads, and sometimes it just takes awhile to eliminate the bad ones. I’m hoping these just go away soon and I don’t have to get an ad blocker.

  7. stonetools says:

    My bet is that both the ACA and gay marriage will be positive for the Democrats and negatives for the Republicans in the 2016 presidential campaign. An anti-gay marriage message will help only Republicans running Congressional elections in the South.
    Once the ACA isn’t about the black man in the White House and as millions more sign up on the exchanges and for expanded Medicaid, expect Republicans’ fervor for abolishing Obamacare to fade away.

  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kylopod: That whole “majority disapprove of the ACA was always hocum. That majority was always split between those who though it was a Satanic plot top destroy America, and those who thought we should have the public option along with a few dead end leftists who thought that if Obama had just threatened to hold his breath till his face turned blue the GOP would have caved and gave him everything he wanted.

    Given the ACA or the Magical Mystery Tour that is the GOP healthcare reform plan, a majority will take the sane ACA over outright GOP delusion every day.

  9. Scott says:

    @Kylopod: A sizable proportion of those who dislike the ACA are folks who don’t think it goes far enough. A fact that the news media conveniently leaves out.

  10. Kylopod says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: @Scott: One basic thing I’ve noticed–and not just from reading polls, but from my own experience talking with people over the past several years–is that loads of people simply don’t have a f’ing clue what the law actually does. They have an image of the law based on pure fantasy. Obviously this is the case on the right, but I’ve even seen it on the left to some degree: a lot of “progressives” have been brainwashed by the Michael Moores, Ralph Naders, Dennis Kuciniches, etc. of the world that the law is literally nothing more than a corporate giveaway to the insurance companies. Many of these folks are just as surprised to learn how the law has dramatically improved the lives of millions of Americans as the average Foxoid dittohead is.

  11. An Interested Party says:

    …the Republicans have only won the popular vote in 1 of the last 7 presidential elections…

    A pity for Republicans that they can’t gerrymander a national election…

  12. michael reynolds says:


    One of the things I’m looking forward to is the day when the threat represented by the right is sufficiently minimized that I can start picking on the left. They aren’t dangerous, but they are often idiots.

  13. Tillman says:

    Strangely, I care way more about the public’s opinion on Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA than their opinion on gay marriage or healthcare.

    Maybe I’m just being contrarian to the swell of news coverage those two have gotten.

  14. Tony W says:

    @An Interested Party:

    pity for Republicans that they can’t gerrymander a national election…

    But they’ve also done well in the Senate which, unrepresentative as it may be, is equally hard to gerrymander.

  15. An Interested Party says:

    But they’ve also done well in the Senate which, unrepresentative as it may be, is equally hard to gerrymander.

    Indeed, they’ve done well in red states where they can run loons like Inhofe in Oklahoma or fools like Graham in South Carolina…but such people can’t possibly expect to win national elections…