END OF 2018 OPEN ENROLLMENT PERIOD (42 states)

Time: D H M S

Updated: PPP Confirms it: Americans are finally pretty much OK w/the ACA

Not sure why this is being treated as such a revelation this morning, but Public Policy Polling just released new, extensive national polling results, and among the various topics they asked about was this bit regarding the Affordable Care Act:

Evidence continues to mount that the Affordable Care Act is just not a liability for Democrats anymore. Nationally we find that 42% of voters support it to 40% who are opposed. Those numbers are in line with what we've found in most swing states where we've polled on it over the course of this year. It's a far cry from when we used to consistently find voters opposed to it by a 10-15 point margin nationally and in key states. One big reason for the change is that Democrats (73%) are more unified in their support of it than Republicans (70%) are in their opposition to it. There isn't the sort of pro GOP intensity gap on the issue that there used to be.

Again, the Kaiser Family Foundation has been releasing national tracking polls which have found pretty much the same results for the past 3 months:

That was from August, enhanced with trend lines added by myself. Here's the September version:

The trend is unmistakable: 45% of the public now support the ACA while only 41% oppose it.

(NOTE: SEE UPDATE BELOW)

The difference between the KFF and PPP polls, I think , is that KFF is polling adults in general, while PPP is polling registered voters only:

This Kaiser Health Tracking Poll was designed and analyzed by public opinion researchers at the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF). The survey was conducted September 17-23, 2015, among a nationally representative random digit dial telephone sample of 1,202 adults ages 18 and older, living in the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii (note: persons without a telephone could not be included in the random selection process). Computer-assisted telephone interviews conducted by landline (481) and cell phone (721, including 429 who had no landline telephone) were carried out in English and Spanish by Princeton Data Source under the direction of Princeton Survey Research Associates International (PSRAI). Both the random digit dial landline and cell phone samples were provided by Survey Sampling International, LLC. For the landline sample, respondents were selected by asking for the youngest adult male or female currently at home based on a random rotation. If no one of that gender was available, interviewers asked to speak with the youngest adult of the opposite gender. For the cell phone sample, interviews were conducted with the adult who answered the phone. KFF paid for all costs associated with the survey.

Public Policy Polling surveyed 1,338 registered voters between October 1st and 4th. The margin of error for the survey is +/-2.7%. 80% of participants responded via the phone, while 20% of respondents who did not have landlines conducted the survey over the internet.

Both polls tell the same story: A slight plurality of both the public at large and registered voters specifically now support the ACA.

The risk (politically) to the Democratic Party would be if registered voters were still opposing the law. If that had been the case, it would mean that a disproportionate amount of KFF's "45% 41% support" results would be coming from non-registered voters, thus masking the true opposition from those who actually might vote. The fact that both trendlines seem to be pretty much in line with each other is positive news for supporters of both the ACA itself as well as Democratic candidates in general.

It's also important, as always, to remember that a chunk of opposition to the Affordable Care Act--perhaps 10-15% of the total--has consistently come from people who oppose it from the left. That is to say, many devout Single Payer advocates (basically, many Bernie Sanders supporters, although that's too much of a generalization) oppose the ACA because they don't think it goes nearly far enough.

How will this impact the 2016 election? Well, if things stay as they are today, it probably won't impact it one way or the other. After several election cycles in which the ACA was damaging to the Democratic Party politically, it has finally been effectively neutralized, which is a positive for the Dems in & of itself. If the 2016 Open Enrollment Period is successful, however (ie, decent increase in enrollment, no serious technical screw-ups and effective premiums/deductibles which don't shoot up too dramatically), it could end up finally becoming a net positive for Democratic candidates in many races.

UPDATE: OY!! I screwed up in reading KFF's September poll results; the numbers flipped between August and September, with 45% now opposing the law and 41% supporting it. If that trend were to continue, then yeah, it would be a problem...but again, it's still within the MoE, so it might just be noise. The worst-case scenario still appears to be the ACA being basically a neutral/non-issue one way or the other next year...except, of course, for the fact that every Republican candidate is still claiming a "repeal Obamacare!" stance, which will, by that point, have upwards of  35 million or more people on policies specifically enabled by the law (including the ACA exchanges, off-exchange policies with ACA-mandated coverage, Medicaid expansion and so forth).