Five years after Obamacare became law, uninsured rates have fallen to historic lows, but attitudes on the Affordable Care Act remain mostly stagnant and entrenched along party lines.
But new Morning Consult polling shows some shifts: over the past year, Democrats have become more likely to say Congress should actually expand the law – as have Republicans.
In June 2014, Morning Consult asked voters what they wanted Congress to do with Obamacare. A plurality, 37 percent, said they wanted Congress to “make changes to improve the law,” instead of repealing it, delaying it, expanding it, or simply letting it take effect.
In July 2015, after the Supreme Court vindicated the administration in King vs. Burwell, and another round of open enrollment decreased the number of uninsured Americans, that number was almost exactly the same. Thirty-six percent of voters, again a plurality, said they wanted Congress to improve the law.
But among all voters, there was a four percentage point increase in people who said they want Congress to expand the law, driven by both Democrats and Republicans. In 2014, 11 percent of voters wanted Congress to expand the law. In 2015, 15 percent said they want Congress to expand the law. Democrats who want the law expanded increased five percentage points from 2014 to 2015, as did Republicans.
Democrats appeared to solidify their support for the law, with fewer saying they wanted Congress to make changes to Obamacare. In 2014, 41 percent of Democrats wanted changes; in 2015, 34 percent selected changes.
Republicans also seemed to temper their views of the law. In 2014, 51 percent of Republicans wanted to repeal the law. In 2015, that group fell to 47 percent, while more called for the law to be expanded: while only two percent of Republicans called for expansion in 2014, 7 percent did in 2015.
The law is still a target in Congress. Republicans are discussing how to use reconciliation, an arcane budget process, to repeal the law with a simple majority in the Senate. President Obama has said he would veto any repeal that comes to his desk, but it has become an important symbolic measure, particularly to hardline conservatives looking for Republican leadership to prove their bona fides.
On Sunday, the Senate took its first floor vote on repealing the Affordable Care Act since Republicans took the chamber. The motion to end debate failed on a party line vote of 49-43.
The 2014 poll was conducted from June 19-21 among 1,240 voters, with a margin of error of three percentage points. The 2015 poll was conducted from July 17-20 among 1,979 voters. The poll has a margin of error of two percentage points.