Though the majority of Americans have an unfavorable view of Obamacare—most say they would prefer to see the law fixed instead of repealed.
That’s according to a survey by Hart Research Associates and Public Opinion Strategies that found 54 percent of respondents say they want lawmakers to repair Obamacare, while 28 percent say they want to eliminate it. Another 17 percent say they want the law to remain as is.
The poll comes as both parties are strategizing about how to use Obamacare to their advantage in the upcoming midterm elections. The veteran pollsters, Democratic strategist Peter Hart and Republican strategist Bill Mcinturff, said the results are particularly challenging to the GOP—since voters want to keep the law and some Republicans are still pushing to repeal it. Just yesterday the House voted for the 50th time to repeal or dismantle the president’s health care law.
Hart warned that if Republicans pursue Obamacare too aggressively they could alienate voters. “If Republicans go too far overboard” attacking Obamacare “the public will just back away,” he said. “If they become the force against fixing this, it could put them in a negative position.”
Still, the pollsters say the midterm election season is already shaping up in favor of the Republicans. But they cautioned that it is far too early to tell how the president’s health care law will influence Americans in the voting booth.
“There are still 235 days to go until Election Day—still plenty of time for voters’ opinions on Obamacare to change,” Hart said.
The survey found that health care is the second most important issue to voters this year, right behind the economy. Just 9 percent of respondents said health care is the most important issue.
The pollsters said things that are still likely to determine how the law will impact voters include premiums and out of pocket costs, how state exchanges are shaping up and how many people have lost coverage because of the law.
Although several surveys have found that premiums under Obamacare policies are cheaper than employer sponsored care, the plans’ out-of-pocket costs tend to be more expensive.
McIntruff said the biggest challenge to Democrats is that there is not enough time to repair negative impressions of the health care law. He said Republicans will likely be highlighting the costs associated with implementing the new law.
“The federal government spent more than $300 million to get people signed up on Oregon’s state exchange. Where the hell did the money go? People will see we spent $50,000, $80,000 per person to sign them up for coverage,” McIntruff said. “The disaster in a handful of states is something you’ll be hearing about in the next couple of months.”
The White House has been on the defensive ahead of the midterms in order to quash negative stories surrounding the law’s nightmarish rollout. Just yesterday, the Obama administration announced new Obamacare delays allowing insurers to continue offering plans that are noncompliant with the new law. Though the White House says the change was made to help ease the transition into the new law, many speculate that it was politically motivated to help Democrats in November.
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