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2 new polls explain why GOP is sweating over King v. Burwell...but still don't ask the key question

NOTE: Shortly after Greg Sargent tweeted out a link to this story, I screwed something up and had to rewrite the entire piece. If you visited earlier and got a blank page, I apologize; it's 99% identical to what it was at the time.

Over at CNBC, Dan Mangan has a good write-up about 2 new polls out today regarding King v. Burwell...specifically, public support for the ACA's federal tax subsidies in the 34 states at risk:

Two new polls show strong public support for the high court maintaining financial aid that helps people in 34 states buy health coverage through the federal Obamacare marketplace.

The first survey, from Public Policy Polling, found that 61 percent of Americans believe that everyone in the U.S. at similar income levels should be able to get Obamacare subsidies regardless of where they live.

Support for that idea was strongest among Democrats, at 74 percent. But even a plurality of Republicans favored keeping subsidies for HealthCare.gov customers—49 percent in support, and 41 percent opposing the idea.

A total of 62 percent of people surveyed by Public Policy Polling favored the Republican-led Congress taking action to continue HealthCare.gov subsidies if the Supreme Court rules they are illegal.

The poll also found that a similar percentage of voters would be more likely to vote for an elected official who worked to maintain the subsidies.

Meanwhile, over at the Washington Post, Greg Sargent notes that their survey, which, while not quite as cheery for the administration as the PPP, is still telling a similar story:

The Post poll finds that among Americans overall, 55 percent oppose a Court decision killing the subsidies, while only 38 percent support it. Independents oppose such a decision by 57-36, while Republicans are alone in supporting a decision against the ACA by 55-34.

Unlike PPP, Sargent was able to drill down a bit further to the state level (politically, it doesn't matter if 100% of deep-blue, already-has-a-state-exchange Vermont supports keeping the subsidies, after all):

Among the states in which the largest numbers of people may lose subsidies are Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Wisconsin and Ohio. Those are key presidential battlegrounds, and Republicans are defending Senate seats in five of them.

The Post polling team tells me that in all of those states taken together, 52 percent of respondents oppose the Court nixing subsidies, while only 38 percent support it.

Unfortunately, neither poll comes right out and asks the most crucial political question: Who would you blame if the tax credits are taken away?

The PPP poll comes pretty close, however, with several of their other questions:

"If the Supreme Court rules that Americans with similar incomes in some states should not be eligible for health insurance subsidies, would you support or oppose Congress fixing the law to guarantee that all Americans with similar incomes are eligible for the same health insurance subsidies no matter what state they live in?"

  • 62% Support Congress fixing the law
  • 30% Oppose Congress fixing the law
  • 8% Not sure

Wow. PPP dosn't provide the state-by-state numbers, but they do give the partisan breakdown; for the above question, here's what it looks like:

  • Dems: 76% support "fix"
  • Indys: 57% support "fix"
  • GOP: 50% support "fix"

Yup. 50% of Republicans want the GOP to just tweak the damned wording and move on.

"If the Supreme Court rules that Americans with similar incomes in some states should not be eligible for health insurance subsidies, would you be more or less likely to support a candidate for Congress who voted to fix the Affordable Care Act and rquire that every American with the same income be eligible for the same health insurance subsidies no matter what state they live in, or would it not make a difference?"

  • 62% More likely
  • 28% Less likely
  • 6% No difference
  • 4% Not sure

Partisan breakdown:

  • Dems: 78% More likely to support candidate who would "fix" (15% would oppose)
  • Indys: 60% More likely to support candidate who would "fix" (29% would oppose)
  • GOP: 46% More likely to support candidate who would "fix" (42% would oppose)

Wow again. More Republicans are more likely to support a candidate who votes to "fix" the wording than to oppose them.

"If a Republican member of Congress didn't vote to fix the Affordable Care ACt and require that every American with the same income be eligible for the same health insurance subsidies no mattter what state they live in, would you be more or less likely to vote for them in the next election, or would it not make a difference?"

  • 31% More likely
  • 42% Less likely 
  • 17% No difference
  • 10% Not sure

Partisan breakdown:

  • Dems: 49% less likely (30% more???)
  • Indys: 41% less likely (28% more)
  • GOP: 37% less likely (35% more)

Hmmm...this last one is kind of weird. Only 15% of Democrats are less likely to vote for a candidate who "fixed" the law...but 30% are more likely to vote for a Republican who didn't do so? That's...perplexing.

In any event, while not a slam dunk, it does appear that overall, "winning" the King case would indeed be a net negative for the Republican Party.