Category Archives: The Trump Administration

Does Trying To Repeal Obamacare Actually Increase Its Appeal?

Welcome to Pollapalooza, our weekly polling roundup.
Poll(s) of the week
On Monday, the Trump administration once again took aim at the Affordable Care Act, this time saying it wants to entirely scrap the health law. This marked a major turning point, as the administration had previously argued that portions of the law should remain intact, including protections for people with preexisting medical conditions. But now President Trump and Justice Department lawyers are asking the courts to uphold a federal judge’s decision from December that found the entire law unconstitutional.
If the law is struck down without a plan to replace it, this means millions of people could lose coverage, which would be a political disaster for Trump — especially as more than half of Americans hold a “very” or “somewhat” favorable view of the health law.
This is according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, which has tracked the law’s favorability every month since it was first signed into law nearly a decade ago in 2010. As you can see in the chart below4, while the health care law has struggled in popularity over the years, late 2016 marked an inflection point, in which the law inched upward in popularity among the American public (although it has remained largely unpopular among Republicans).

“It wasn’t until the repeal-and-replace debate that some of the real benefits of the law became clear to people,” said Mollyann Brodie, a senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation, referring to congressional Republicans’ efforts in 2017 to repeal and replace the law. “Given our experience of what we observed during repeal and replace, I think that it’s certainly the case that when people feel like there is a real threat to this law, there is a real rallying-around-the-law effect.” The March numbers were just released this week, showing an overall net favorability of about +10, but Brodie said they expect to see a bump in favorability if the Trump administration renews its efforts to dismantle the ACA.
In fact, since 2016, support for the law has increased significantly across every demographic group KFF tracks with one notable exception — people that identify as Republicans.5 Trump campaigned on repealing Obamacare, so renewed efforts to repeal the law could be a play to his base.

Republicans continue to hold out against Obamacare
Change in average net favorability rating of the Affordable Care Act from 2016 to 2019

Avg. Net Favorability

2016
2019
Change

Party
Democrat
+50
+67
+17

Independent
-9
+10
+19

Republican
-64
-63
+1

Income
Less than $40,000
+5
+19
+14

$40,000-$89,999
-12
+10
+22

$90,000 or more
-7
+1
+8

Age
18-29
+11
+30
+19

30-49
-5
+12
+17

50-64
-10
+1
+11

65+
-10
+5
+15

Gender
Men
-9
+4
+13

Women
+1
+19
+18

Race/ethnicity
White
-20
-5
+15

Black
+43
+53
+10

Hispanic
+19
+42
+23

Overall

-4
+12
+16

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation

Democrats have promised to fight back against the Trump administration’s latest efforts to dismantle Obamacare, and many in the party have begun to set their sights beyond the ACA, working to bring a number of ambitious health care policy proposals into the 2020 arena. And some of these proposals have polled well. For example, KFF found in its March monthly poll that 56 percent of Americans either “strongly” or “somewhat” favor having a national health plan, which the poll described both as “Medicare-for-all” and as a “single government plan,” in which all Americans would get their insurance from the government.
But Brodie cautioned that gauging support for Medicare-for-all style health care reforms is tricky. Support tends to be highly partisan and often varies based on how the question is asked and whether respondents are presented with arguments for and against the policies. For example, in a January poll on Medicare-for-all, KFF found a majority of Americans supported the idea, but the net favorability dropped by a whopping 44 percentage points when voters were told the plan could lead to delays for people seeking care. But support increased by 45 percentage points when voters were told it would guarantee health insurance as a right. And some pollsters like Quinnipiac have even found a decline in support for the idea of a single payer health care system. That said, the pollster also asked respondents if they supported keeping the current health care system with an option that gives Americans the ability to buy into Medicare, and they found that 51 percent, including a plurality of Republicans, supported this less radical overhaul. So there is some early evidence that Democrats might be able to woo a general electorate with health care reform in 2020 if they scale back some of their more sweeping health care reform proposals.
And if Trump wants Republicans be “the party of healthcare” as he suggested in a tweet this week, he will need to think of a replacement that can compete with whatever Democrats decide to offer — especially as repealing Obamacare could be unpopular.
From ABC News:

 
Other polling nuggets

A Morning Consult/Politico poll conducted after special counsel Robert Mueller ended his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election found that 47 percent of registered voters still think that Trump tried to “impede or obstruct the investigation,” even though Barr’s summary of Mueller’s report did not make a determination on whether the president obstructed justice.
74 percent of registered voters, including 56 percent of Republicans and 84 percent of Democrats, told YouGov in a poll this week that they think the full contents of Mueller’s report should be made public.
A Quinnipiac poll of Democratic primary candidates found Pete Buttigieg tied with Elizabeth Warren in fifth place, both polling at 4 percent. This could signal a big bump for Buttigieg, as he had previously polled at 1 or 2 percent in most national polls, but we’ll have to wait and see how big the Buttigieg bump gets.
A poll conducted by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and the Levada Center asked Americans and Russians whether they thought their governments should cooperate with each other or limit the other country’s influence. In both countries, over half of respondents preferred policies that limited the influence of the other country. This is similar to what the poll found in 2017, but marks a reversal from 2016 when 56 percent of Americans preferred to cooperate with Russia.
Half of registered voters say that presidential elections should be determined by the national popular vote, while 34 percent say they should be determined by the Electoral College, according to another Morning Consult poll. Seventy-two percent of Democrats thought the national popular vote should decide elections compared to just 30 percent of Republicans, whereas 57 percent of Republicans preferred the Electoral College compared to 16 percent of Democrats.
Almost half of Americans think the college admissions process is rigged, according to a Fox News poll, while only a quarter think it is fair.
36 percent of voters, including 63 percent of Republicans and 19 percent of Democrats, said in a Huffpost/YouGov poll that there is a lot of discrimination against white people.
National elections are coming up in April and May in India, and a Pew Research Center survey found that 54 percent of Indians are satisfied with the way their democracy is working, while a third are dissatisfied. However, the poll also found that Indians don’t think elections move the dial much, with 58 percent saying that no matter who wins, “things do not change very much.”

 
Trump approval

According to FiveThirtyEight’s presidential approval tracker, 41.9 percent of Americans approve of the job Trump is doing as president, while 52.8 percent disapprove (a net approval rating of -10.9 points). At this time last week, 41.6 percent approved and 53.1 percent disapproved (for a net approval rating of -11.5 points). One month ago, Trump had an approval rating of 42.3 percent and a disapproval rating of 53.3 percent, for a net approval rating of -11 points.
Check out all the polls we’ve been collecting ahead of the 2020 elections.


Why Trump Blinked

President Trump blinked. The 35-day partial government shutdown appears to be ending.
From the start of the shutdown, congressional Democrats said they would not negotiate regarding Trump’s proposal for a border wall until the government reopened. Trump said he would not agree to legislation opening the government unless it included money for the border wall. That standoff lasted until Friday. Congress is expected to pass a bill that funds the government through Feb. 15 and does not include wall money, and Trump said that he would sign it in a Rose Garden address.
Why did Trump back down? Well, for all of the reasons we’ve been talking about for weeks. Polls consistently showed that the public was largely blaming the president, more than congressional Democrats, for the shutdown. That “blame Trump” view had recently gained more traction:

Moreover, Trump’s approval ratings were declining amid the impasse:

The public response had clear effects in Congress. Congressional Republicans had been unified behind the president in the early stages of the shutdown, but cracks started to emerge as it dragged on. In public, this was demonstrated on Thursday by six Senate Republicans voting for legislation put forward by Senate Democrats that would fund the government without money for the wall. And, in private, disagreement with the president’s strategy extended beyond those six. A meeting between Senate Republicans and Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday reportedly turned into a venting session, with some senators scolding Pence for the White House’s strategy. Among the critics was Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has the power to bring forward legislation, whether Trump likes it or not.
We don’t know much about the private discussions between McConnell and the White House, but it’s possible that Trump folded in part because McConnell suggested Senate Republicans would likely move forward soon with legislation funding the government without paying for the wall — with or without the president’s support. Although Trump, in a Rose Garden speech on Friday, acted as if it were his decision to end the shutdown, the decision to fold may not truly have been Trump’s to make, and the speech may have been McConnell allowing the president to save face and concede before the Republicans in the Senate fully broke with him.

To be clear, it’s not certain that Trump has lost the broader fight over the wall. It’s hard to see congressional Democrats offering much funding for it, but maybe they will agree to some kind of compromise that includes a few billion dollars. (I wouldn’t bet on this, as liberal Democratic opposition to the wall seems to be hardening.) Or, as he suggested on Friday, Trump could declare a national emergency and reallocate funds from other parts of the government to finance a wall. Such a move will almost certainly draw legal challenges. But Trump might win in the courts, as he (eventually) did on his executive order banning travel from certain countries into the United States.
For now, however, we’re back to where we were when the shutdown began. Trump and Congress have three weeks to figure out a solution. In public, at least, all sides are staking out the same positions they held when the shutdown started. Trump will likely need a different strategy going forward. The one he employed over the last month — shutting down the government (which is unpopular) to get the wall (which is unpopular) — could not keep his party united forever.
In short, it was another example that Trump is not immune to broader political dynamics, despite his surprising win in 2016. The health care policy legislation he was pushing for much of 2017 was deeply unpopular — and it failed. He had high disapproval ratings going into the 2018 midterms — and his party lost a ton of House seats. And now, he pushed a shutdown strategy that seemed doomed to fail — and it did.