For Republicans, nothing captures what they loathe about Barack Obama's presidency more perfectly than Obamacare — — it's Big Government run amok and an existential threat to American liberty. But it turns out Republicans like what's actually in the law.
The Reuters-Ipsos poll taken June 19-23 found that Obamacare remains deeply unpopular: 56 percent of Americans oppose the law versus only 44 percent who favor it. But the poll also found that strong majorities favor the law's individual provisions — including solid majorities of Republicans.
I asked Ipsos for a partisan breakdown of the data. Key points:
Eighty percent of Republicans favor "creating an insurance pool where small businesses and uninsured have access to insurance exchanges to take advantage of large group pricing benefits." That point is backed by 75 percent of respondents who self-describe as independents.
Fifty-seven percent of Republicans support "providing subsidies on a sliding scale to aid individuals and families who cannot afford health insurance." That same sentiment is backed by 67 percent of independents.
Fifty-four percent of Republicans favor "requiring companies with more than 50 employees to provide insurance for their employees." That idea is backed by 75 percent of independents.
Fifty-two percent of Republicans favor "allowing children to stay on parents insurance until age 26." Sixty-nine percent of independents agree.
Seventy-eight percent of Republicans support "banning insurance companies from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions;" 86 percent of Republicans favor "banning insurance companies from cancelling policies because a person becomes ill." Those points are backed by 82 percent and 87 percent of independents, respectively.
And one provision that isn't backed by a majority of Republicans? The one "expanding Medicaid to families with incomes less than $30,000 per year."
"Most Republicans want to have good health coverage," Ipsos research director Chris Jackson told me. "They just don't necessarily like what it is Obama is doing."
Bottom line: Big numbers of Republicans and independents favor regulation of the health insurance system. But the law has become so defined by the individual mandate — not to mention the president himself — that public sentiment on the actual reforms has been drowned out. It's another sign of the conservative messaging triumph in this fight and Democrats' failure to make the case for the law.
These data also suggest that if the law is struck down today, Democrats might be able to salvage at least something from the wreckage by refocusing the debate on the individual reforms they have been championing — and what, if anything, Republicans would replace them with.
© 2012 Washington Post