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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Poll: most want Obamacare fixed, not scrapped

Worker repairs large piece of equipment
Some bad news for Republicans on more than one level.

Greg Sargent: With Obamacare facing its deadline for website functionality, Republicans appear absolutely, irrevocably, 100 percent certain the law’s total collapse is at hand, or even already complete. However, they may be the only ones who are convinced of this.

A new CNN poll tests public opinion on the law in a way I haven’t seen before — and it shows Republicans are the only group who believe the law’s problems can’t be solved and that it should now be pronounced a failure. Independents and moderates believe it can still work.

To be sure, opposition is running high, at 58 percent, as in many other polls, and virtually no one believes the law is a success, which is as it should be. This means, again, that the rollout continues to put Democrats in serious political peril. But disapproval does not necessarily translate into giving up on the law, which matters, because it goes to whether people will enroll in the numbers necessary to make it work over time.

The poll finds 53 percent of Americans say it’s too soon to tell if the law will succeed or fail, versus 39 percent who pronounce it a failure. That latter sentiment is driven by Republicans: Independents say it’s too soon to tell by 55-41; moderates by 58-35. But Republicans overwhelmingly believe it’s a failure by 70-25.
In polling, Republicans always seem to find themselves outside the mainstream. And the people who will make it work believe it can in huge numbers.

"Crucially, young Americans — who are important to the law’s success – overwhelmingly believe the problems will be solved (71 percent)," Sargent reports. "Part of the campaign by Republicans to persuade Americans that the law’s doom is inevitable is about dissuading people from enrolling, to turn that into a self fulfilling prophesy."

And, as always, the polling shows that those who support the law and those who believe it doesn’t go far enough outweigh those who think Obamacare goes too far — 54% - 41%. Again, the GOP is outside the political mainstream.

But the failure for the GOP is in getting their messaging to take hold with anyone but those who were already sold. They’ve been predicting a “trainwreck” for years, a rushed rollout practically hands one to them on a silver platter, and they still can’t win over majorities in any demo but their own. Not only is this a failure on the party’s part, but it also demonstrates the limitations of the rightwing noise machine. The Fox/talk radio/wingnut blogger alliance seems to be doing a fine job of preaching to the choir, but a pretty lousy job of evangelism. They stand on soap boxes at busy intersections, shrieking the Gospel of Saints Koch at the top of their lungs. But for anyone but themselves it’s just street noise, indistinguishable from honking horns, barking dogs, and crashing garbage cans.

Not only does this have bad things to say about the future of the anti-Obamacare movement, but for the Republican Party itself. All the demographics they dominate are dying off or becoming insignificant and all the ones they want to win over aren’t even paying attention to what they’re saying.

Republicans would be a lot better off working with public opinion than against it. They need to drop their insistence that everyone listen to them and instead listen to what other people are saying. In other words, they need to shut their big yaps, stop trying to tell everyone what to think, and hear what the American people say they want.

The Affordable Care Act may have had a rocky start, but if they aren’t careful, the GOP could be facing an even rockier end.

[photo via Wikimedia Commons]

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