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Affordable Care Act: Another story behind the numbers

We hear so often that Obamacare is unpopular — but what do polling numbers really say?

59% of Americans oppose the Affordable Care Act, but for different reasons.
REUTERS/Brian Snyder

We hear so many talking points from Obamacare opponents that we almost take it for granted that the ACA is extremely unpopular. The polling seems so overwhelming that nobody bothers to even look at the real numbers.

Well, right now we are going to do that.

A recent (July 18-20) CNN poll gave us the usual headline. Obamacare is favored by only 40% of Americans. 

Here are the total numbers:

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Favor 40%
Oppose 59%
No Opinion 1%

Even the fact that only 1% have no opinion means that our attitudes have been firmly entrenched.

But CNN asked a follow up question.

(IF OPPOSE) Do you oppose that legislation because you think its approach toward health care is too liberal, or because you think it is not liberal enough?

They only asked that question of the people who stated they opposed Obamacare. And they found the percentages ended up like this:

Favor………………………………40% (the original number favored)
Oppose (Too Liberal)…………..38%
Oppose (Not Liberal Enough)….17%
No Opinion………………………….5%

No only did they find out that 17% didn’t think Obamacare went far enough, they confused another 4% enough that they went to undecided.

I would speculate that the 17% are single payer advocates. And there are probably also a number of single payer advocates (like me) that will poll in favor of Obamacare because we assume that we can’t get what we really want — single payer or at least some kind of government option.

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If you extrapolate that into the poll, you could surmise that some kind of government health care system is favored — 57% to 38%.

But that requires some nuanced thinking and probably a more detailed poll to be completely accurate. And we are not getting that kind of in depth coverage on this issue.

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What is interesting is that CNN has been polling with this method for the last 4 years, and that 17% number is the highest it has ever been. In fact, it is up 5% since the last poll in March. Why don’t we hear about that? Because the narrative has already been established.

I believe that Obamacare would not be having the credibility problems it is having presently if the technology of the websites (Federal and State) had not failed us. If only the preparation and testing had been more thorough, the controversies could have been avoided.

The bottom line is that Obamacare did succeed in its main goal. More people have health care than ever before. Massachusetts has nearly 100% coverage and even Minnesota, with its website debacle, is moving in that direction.

In Minnesota, we have an opportunity to put all of these problems behind us by passing the Minnesota Health Plan. It is languishing in our legislature, ready to be debated and passed. With it, we can stop the website issues. We can cover every one of our residents. We can cut costs and end all the duplication. And we can do what it would seem that 57% of Americans want — health care for all.

This post was written by Dave Mindeman and originally published on mnpACT! Progressive Political Blog. Follow Dave on Twitter: @newtbuster.

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