49% say they favor the 2010 health care law
But few feel the ACA has done much to help them personally
Americans views of Obamacare tilt narrowly positive, according to a new CNN/ORC poll, marking the first time more have favored than opposed the law since its passage in 2010. The shift comes at the same time more than 8-in-10 say the law is likely to be repealed and replaced by incoming president Donald Trump.
Overall, 49% say they favor the 2010 health care law, more formally known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, while 47% oppose it. Though a mostly mixed review overall, that’s a sharp improvement compared with previous polling on the law.
More have opposed than favored the law in every CNN/ORC poll on this question from March 2010 until now. The shift in the law’s favor stems largely from Democrats and independents, while views among Republicans haven’t moved much.
Still, few feel the ACA has done much to help them personally. Just 22% say they or their families are better off since the law’s provisions have gone into effect, and more, 30%, say that they are worse off now. About 3-in-10 say that the law hasn’t actually helped anyone in the US, including 58% of Republicans who feel that way.
The law undoubtedly helped reduce the share of uninsured Americans, with the uninsured rate reaching historic lows following the implementation of some parts of the law, but Americans by and large don’t see it as successful.
Almost 4-in-10 (37%) say they consider the law a failure, outnumbering the 23% who say they see the law as a success. That’s an uptick since 2015, but nearly all of the increase in perceptions of the law as a success comes among Democrats, 46% of whom say so now, up from 19% in 2015.
The incoming Trump administration and the Republican Congress that will accompany it have called repealing Obamacare a top priority, and health care generally has risen in priority in the eyes of Americans. In the new poll, 14% cited health care as the most important issue facing the country, up sharply from the 3% who cited it last fall in a similar question about the most important issue in the presidential campaign.
Americans see repeal-and-replace as more likely to happen than any other Trump campaign promise tested in the poll, with 82% saying they think it’s at least somewhat likely. Fewer think Trump is likely to follow through with another health care related promise, reducing prescription drug costs, 52% see that as likely to occur.
Considering the process for repeal, a majority would prefer the GOP to repeal parts of the law only if replacements can be enacted at the same time (55%), including majorities of Republicans (58%) and independents (61%) and a plurality of Democrats (45%).
Fewer overall say they ought to repeal parts of the law as they can, regardless of their ability to replace those pieces (21%) and another 1-in-5 (22%) say they’d prefer the Republicans to abandon their plans to repeal the law entirely.
Americans have less confidence that Trump will be able to achieve another oft-stated goal: Draining the swamp. Almost 6-in-10, 58% say it’s unlikely that Trump will be able to reduce corruption in Washington, a shift since November when a narrow majority thought he would be able to accomplish that. They are also doubtful that he will be able to avoid conflicts between his business and his work as president, with 55% calling that unlikely.
The plan Trump has announced to turn over control of his business to his adult sons so far hasn’t won over a skeptical public. Only about one-third (36%) say they think it does enough to eliminate conflicts of interest, 62% think it doesn’t go far enough. Two-thirds think he hasn’t disclosed enough information about his financial situation and business connections, and more, 74%, say Trump should release his tax returns, including 96% of Democrats, 71% of independents and 51% of Republicans.
Still, one aspect of Trump’s divestment plan appears to have appeal, 54% say they approve of his plan to donate to the U.S. Treasury Trump hotel profits earned from foreign governments.
Considering the other Trump family members who have been in the news lately, 59% say it is inappropriate for Trump to have his daughter, Ivanka Trump, and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, working in the White House. Kushner has been appointed a senior advisor to the president and Ivanka Trump is expected to work there eventually.
The Congress that will be working with the White House to enact Trump’s agenda, begins his time in office with a 20% approval rating, that’s a bit below the 29% approval they held at the start of Barack Obama’s time in office, and about on-par with their standing in January 2013 ahead of Obama’s second inauguration.
Of the four party leaders heading up congressional caucuses in the House and Senate, House Speaker Paul Ryan has the highest favorability rating (46% view him favorably) and is best-known. Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi follows with 35% favorability. The two Senate leaders are both less well-known and less well-liked, with 25% holding a favorable opinion of new Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and 20% favorable toward Republican leader Mitch McConnell.
The CNN/ORC Poll was conducted by telephone January 12-15 among a random national sample of 1,000 adults. Results for the full sample have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points; it is higher for subgroups.