Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Opinion

Column: Majorities disapprove of Obamacare but oppose repeal

RECOMMENDED READING


With Republican attacks on Obamacare's awful rollout intensifying, two new polls illustrate just how much pressure Democrats will feel in coming days to seriously distance themselves from the law. But the polls also illustrate, paradoxically, why they shouldn't, and almost certainly won't.

The crux of the polls' findings: Disapproval of the law and the president is soaring — but key elements of the Democratic coalition still think it can be made to work, and overwhelmingly oppose repeal.

A Tuesday Washington Post/ABC News poll is brutal to President Barack Obama and his signature domestic achievement. Sixty-three percent of Americans disapprove of his handling of it. Only 40 percent support the law, versus 57 percent who oppose it. Only 34 percent support the individual mandate, and 71 percent support delaying it. The administration's rollout of the law was an epic, unforgiveable failure, so it's not surprising public disapproval is skyrocketing. That's as it should be.

However — and this is key — the public remains divided, at 49-49, on whether the government can ultimately get the law working or whether it is unworkable.

Crucially, majorities of the core Democratic constituencies think it can still be made to work: 69 percent of non-whites; 56 percent of young voters; 59 percent of moderates; 51 percent of women; and 52 percent of college graduates (college-educated whites, especially women, are an increasingly important part of the new Democratic coalition) all think the law can recover.

This pattern is mirrored in a new National Journal poll. It finds a slim majority of 52 percent thinks the law will do more to hurt the health system than to help it. But it also finds that only a small minority, 38 percent, support repealing the law. Majorities of all the core Democratic groups — minorities, young voters, and college-educated whites — still support the law, and tilt overwhelmingly against repeal. Only two groups support repeal: Republicans, and non-college whites.

As the National Journal's Ron Brownstein notes: "Congressional Democrats inclined to distance themselves from the law in the hope of placating skeptical independent or Republican-leaning voters face the risk of alienating some of their core supporters."

At a moment of unrelentingly awful press for the law, a basic dynamic that has been in place for years, one that many commentators simply refuse to acknowledge, is still holding: Majorities disapprove of Obamacare, but disapproval does not translate into majority support for scrapping or eliminating it entirely — particularly among core Democratic constituencies.

There is no minimizing the challenge the White House faces. High disapproval may make congressional Democrats more skittish, and there is intense pressure on the White House to show public impressions can be changed, by making the law work over time. Whether the administration can or will do this remains unknown.

As Brian Beutler at Salon spells out, things may get still worse, making it excruciatingly difficult for Democrats to weather the political downturn. But if they hang in there, the end result could be massively expanded coverage by the time Obama leaves office. The alternative — abandoning the law — is tantamount to telling voters to give up on the Democratic Party. Core Democratic constituencies are not giving up on the law, and neither should congressional Democrats.

© 2013 Washington Post

Comments
Editorial: Florida should restore online access to nursing home inspections

Editorial: Florida should restore online access to nursing home inspections

In a state with the nation’s highest portion of residents over 65 years old and more than 80,000 nursing home beds, public records about those facilities should be as accessible as possible. Yet once again, Florida is turning back the clock to the da...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Another voice: A time of reckoning on sexual misconduct

Stories about powerful men engaging in sexual misconduct are becoming so common that, as with mass shootings, the country is in danger of growing inured to them. But unlike the tragic news about that latest deranged, murderous gunman, the massive out...
Updated: 8 hours ago

Editorial: Good for Tampa council member Frank Reddick to appeal for community help to solve Seminole Heights killings

As the sole black member of the Tampa City Council, Frank Reddick was moved Thursday to make a special appeal for help in solving four recent murders in the racially mixed neighborhood of Southeast Seminole Heights. "I’m pleading to my brothers. You ...
Published: 11/17/17
Editorial: It’s time to renew community’s commitment to Tampa Theatre

Editorial: It’s time to renew community’s commitment to Tampa Theatre

New attention to downtown Tampa as a place to live, work and play is transforming the area at a dizzying pace. Credit goes to recent projects, both public and private, such as the Tampa River Walk, new residential towers, a University of South Florid...
Published: 11/17/17
Editorial: Rays opening offer on stadium sounds too low

Editorial: Rays opening offer on stadium sounds too low

The Rays definitely like Ybor City, and Ybor City seems to like the Rays. So what could possibly come between this match made in baseball stadium heaven? Hundreds (and hundreds and hundreds) of millions of dollars. Rays owner Stu Sternberg told Times...
Published: 11/16/17
Updated: 11/17/17
Editorial: Wage hike for contractors’ labor misguided

Editorial: Wage hike for contractors’ labor misguided

St. Petersburg City Council members are poised to raise the minimum wage for contractors who do business with the city, a well-intended but misguided ordinance that should be reconsidered. The hourly minimum wage undoubtedly needs to rise — for every...
Published: 11/16/17

Editorial: Make workplaces welcoming, not just free of harassment

A federal trial began last week in the sex discrimination case that a former firefighter lodged against the city of Tampa. Tanja Vidovic describes a locker-room culture at Tampa Fire Rescue that created a two-tier system — one for men, another for wo...
Published: 11/15/17
Updated: 11/17/17
Editorial: Firing a critic of his handling of the sewer crisis is a bad early step in Kriseman’s new term

Editorial: Firing a critic of his handling of the sewer crisis is a bad early step in Kriseman’s new term

Barely a week after St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman promised to unite the city following a bitter and divisive campaign, his administration has fired an employee who dared to criticize him. It seems Kriseman’s own mantra of "moving St. Pete forwar...
Published: 11/15/17
Updated: 11/16/17
Editorial: USF’s billion-dollar moment

Editorial: USF’s billion-dollar moment

The University of South Florida recently surpassed its $1 billion fundraising goal, continuing a current trend of exceeding expectations. At 61 years old — barely middle age among higher education institutions — USF has grown up quickly. It now boast...
Published: 11/14/17
Updated: 11/17/17
Editorial: Vets should not have to wait years for benefits

Editorial: Vets should not have to wait years for benefits

American military members hurt in service to their country should not have to wait a lifetime for the benefits they deserve. But that’s a reality of the disability process at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which hasn’t made payi...
Published: 11/14/17