ObamaCare Unpopular in Swing States

President Obama’s health care reforms are not winning him fans in the swing states.

USA Today (“Swing states poll: Health care law hurts Obama in 2012“):

The health care overhaul that President Obama intended to be the signature achievement of his first term instead has become a significant problem in his bid for a second one, uniting Republicans in opposition and eroding his standing among independents.

In a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll of the nation’s dozen top battleground states, a clear majority of registered voters call the bill’s passage “a bad thing” and support its repeal if a Republican wins the White House in November. Two years after he signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act— and as the Supreme Court prepares to hear arguments about its constitutionality next month — the president has failed to convince most Americans that it was the right thing to do.

[…]

Though the law has avid supporters, especially in the president’s Democratic base, the net effect among middle-of-the-road voters is negative for him. What’s more, the issue unites the GOP when the party is fractured among competing presidential contenders.

In the poll, Obama lags the two leading Republican rivals in the 12 states likely to determine the outcome of a close race in November:

•Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum tops Obama 50%-45% in the swing states. Nationwide, Santorum’s lead narrows to 49%-46%.

•Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney edges Obama 48%-46% in the swing states. Nationwide, they are tied at 47% each.

Romney also has a health care problem: Among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents in the battleground states, 27% say they are less likely to support him because he signed a Massachusetts law that required residents to have coverage. Just 7% say it makes them more likely to back him.

Of course, if Romney is the nominee, this issue may not matter.

FILED UNDER: Health Care, Public Opinion Polls, Quick Takes, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. The unknown factor here, of course, is what happens in the Supreme Court.

    SCOTUS could do one of three things:

    (1) Strike the law down, in whole or in part — theoretically a political victory for Republicans, but it may also help Obama to the extent it removes the health care law as a political issue in the fall

    (2) Uphold the law — this would theoretically be a victory for Obama, but could also energize opponents of the law

    (3) Punt by ruling that the Anti-Injunction Act bars suits related to the mandate until fines are assessed (meaning the legal battle is delayed until 2014 at the earliest) —- Probably a wash for both sides.

  2. David says:

    The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is not a real good thing to do polls on whether you like it or not. Find someone on the street and ask the question, you get “I don’t like it.” You ask about preexisting conditions coverage, keeping dependents on your work plan for longer till they get out and get their own coverage, and some of those things, you start to get them to go “well, I like that part of it…”

    The right wing talking heads have done a good job of screaming its bad, the left has not done a good job of saying why its good. I think the problem is that its easier to scream “gov’t is taking over your health care” than to actually explain what the law does and how it will effect individuals. The former you can do in a sound bite, the latter, not so much.

    Reasoned discussion of any complex issue is hard to find in this day and age.

  3. Brummagem Joe says:

    On the other hand it doesn’t seem to be hurting Obama electorally as he is well ahead of Romney and Santorum in the swing states. These issue polls on health care, Afghanistan or whatever have to be taken with a pinch of salt.

    http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0212/73308.html

  4. Brummagem Joe says:

    Btw look at this map. Does anyone think MI is a swing state in the context of the upcoming election.

  5. sam says:

    @David:

    You ask about preexisting conditions coverage, keeping dependents on your work plan for longer till they get out and get their own coverage, and some of those things, you start to get them to go “well, I like that part of it…”

    Yeah, and then ask someone on Medicare if he or she likes the closing of the donut hole… And believe me, Obama won’t run on “Obamacare”. He’ll run on the elements of the ACA, which, as Chris intimates, poll very well:

    The other 10 most-liked elements of the reform law:
    Tax credits to small businesses — 80% view these as “very” or “somewhat” favorable/45% as “very” favorable
    Subsidy assistance to individuals — 75%/44%
    Closing the Medicare “doughnut hole” — 74%/46%
    Health plan decision appeals — 74%/37%
    Medicaid expansion — 69%/34%
    Guaranteed issue of insurance — 67%/47%
    Rate review — 66%/31%
    No cost sharing for preventive services — 64%/33%
    Employer mandate/penalty for large employers — 63%/35%.
    [Kaiser Family Foundation, Tracking Poll on Health Issues]

  6. David says:

    @sam: Thanks for pulling the list. I knew it was out there, but didn’t have time this morning to find it (for some odd reason, I am getting dirty looks for being on the computer, instead of getting things done to get everything ready to fly out tomorrow for our wedding).

  7. Hey Norm says:

    This is the same old tired saw…
    People hate the PPACA…but they love what’s in the PPACA.
    I’m sure it has nothing to do with pundits acting like stenographers and repeating talking points verbatim…like, oh, I don’t know…DEATH PANELS!!!
    From the USA Today story:

    “…It seems like it forces you to take health care (coverage), and you don’t really have a say in the matter,” says Beth Leffew, 26, a college student from Cincinnati…”

    No shit sherlock. It forces you to take some personal responsibility for yourself and not get in a devastating car crash and pass the costs on to me.

  8. Ben says:

    I was going to say essentially the same thing that everyone else has already said. Poll everyone on the actual reforms in the bill, and they’ll all poll very very well. Which means that the republicans have done a great job demagoguing on Obamacare, and have successfully masked what it actually does to fool the voters.

  9. Commonist says:

    Thanks for turning the PPACA into an overly delayed, smeared and slandered mess, blue dogs.

  10. mantis says:

    Mick Santomney: Obamacare bad!

    Barack Obama: Hey fine, this guy wants to yank health insurance away from millions of young adults who now get it thanks to our reforms, just as the economy is recovering. This guy wants allow insurance companies to deny you coverage based on pre-existing conditions. This guy wants to eliminate tax breaks for small businesses so they can provide insurance and subsidies for individuals so you can buy insurance. This guy wants to make sure insurance plans are as complex and indecipherable as possible, while our reforms require insurers to provide easy-to-understand summaries for consumers. This guy doesn’t want you to be able to appeal insurance claim decisions and keep your coverage during the appeal process, as our reforms require. Even if these reforms haven’t affected you personally yet, they probably will at some point in the future. He wants to take them away and leave you wondering if you can afford healthcare coverage, or if you already have it, whether it will actually cover you when you get sick or injured. You can stick with me, or you can roll the dice with him. Your choice.

    Mick Santomney: Obamacare bad!

  11. Gromitt Gunn says:

    The swing state list surprises me a bit. Roughly 8 of the 12 I see going for Obama with either minimal effort (New Hampshire, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New Mexico) or a decent amount of effort (Virginia, Colorado, Nevada, Wisconsin). I only really see Iowa, Florida, North Carolina, and Ohio as swing states given the current GOP candidates.

  12. James Joyner says:

    @Gromitt Gunn: Swing states are those which are plausibly competitive. Which is to say, 38 states and DC are essentially in the bag for one party even before the race is run, absent either some horrific calamity or the worst imaginable candidate. I almost can’t imagine the circumstances under which Obama loses DC or the Republican nominee loses Utah. Those twelves states are at least in play.

  13. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Ohio would be of particular concern for Team Obama, given that only a few months ago the state voted by an overwhelming margin to dissociate itself from Obamacare.

    Ohio and the other Rust Belt states have older demographics, however, so presumably the Democrat strategy will be to use scare tactics on seniors to try to dupe them into thinking the Republicans will confiscate their Social Security checks. Florida also would be ripe for that sort of approach. It could be quite effective. Of course it goes without saying that Team Obama will use race baiting tactics to try to gin up turnout among the black demographic in places such as Cleveland, Detroit, Philly, Pittsburgh and in the Miami-Dade area.

    If I had to take a guess I suspect that Obama will hold all three of the major Rust Belt states. Black turnout will be heavy and the vote will be 99-1 in favor of Obama. That’s too much to overcome, perhaps for any Republican candidate but especially given that Romney on the ticket will result in a lot of evangelicals sitting out the election and in the extremely unlikely event Santorum somehow became the nominee then the election would be a foregone conclusion, irrespective of Obamacare’s unpopularity.

    If Romney were to name Rob Portman as Veep that might tip the scales in Ohio, but it would leave Romney without any magic bullets in Florida and in Pennsylvania. If Romney taps Rubio as Veep that could be a difference maker in Florida, but then Romney would be all alone in Ohio and in Pennsylvania.

    Lastly, it’s pretty tough to run against Obamacare when you’re the guy responsible for its precursor.

  14. An Interested Party says:

    Ohio and the other Rust Belt states have older demographics, however, so presumably the Democrat [sic] strategy will be to use scare tactics on seniors to try to dupe them into thinking the Republicans will confiscate their Social Security checks remind voters what Romney or Santorum thinks about the auto bailouts.

    Happy to be of help…

    It could be quite effective. Of course it goes without saying that Team Obama will use race baiting tactics to try to gin up turnout among the black demographic…

    Wrong again, Tsar Nicholas (what else is new?)…race baiting does indeed drive blacks to vote for Democrats, but the race baiting isn’t done by Democrats…

  15. Carson says:

    Almost no one is in favor of Obama care.
    NC and Virginia are not swing states: it will be 100 years before they go Democrat again.
    Florida is leaning Republican.
    There is also widespread dissatisfaction and restlessness in California: high taxes (especially on gas), real estate disaster, and Governor Brown’s radical, lunatic ideas. A lot of people are fed up.

  16. pcbedamned says:

    @David:

    Congratulations!!!!!!

    {I am sure you will find some way to make it up to her ;-}

  17. anjin-san says:

    There is also widespread dissatisfaction and restlessness in California: high taxes (especially on gas), real estate disaster, and Governor Brown’s radical, lunatic ideas. A lot of people are fed up.

    Well, yea, but they are generally the one who have no teeth. If they were a bit smarter they would welcome Obamacare…

  18. Scott O. says:

    This poll says Santorum leads Obama by 3 points naotinwide. Really?