By Justin Sink
Americans don't like President Obama's expansive healthcare reform law, and skepticism about its implementation could damage Democrats’ efforts in November, according to a new set of polls from USA Today and Gallup.
More than half — 53 percent — of voters in swing states and half of voters nationwide perceive the Affordable Care Act negatively, according to the survey. That's versus just 38 percent of voters in swing states and 42 percent of voters nationwide who view the healthcare legislation favorably.
And despite provisions that allow children to stay on their parents' health insurance longer and prevent insurance companies from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions, only 11 percent of voters nationwide say the bill has helped them. The vast majority — around seven in 10 — say that the legislation has had no effect on their family, while 17 percent of voters nationwide say the legislation will hurt.
As would be expected, Republicans are the most pessimistic about the long-term effects of the bill, with 68 percent believing it would make their family's healthcare situation worse. Only four in 10 Democrats believed the bill would substantially improve their family's healthcare situation, although only 12 percent of Democrats thought the legislation would hurt.
Meanwhile, more than half of voters in swing states favor repealing the law if a Republican is elected in November, while nearly a third say they "strongly" favor repeal.
Nearly nine in 10 — 87 percent — of Republicans favor repeal of the law, while just 77 percent of Democrats oppose it. Republicans also feel more passionately about the issue, with more than half — 56 percent — strongly favoring repeal. Meanwhile, just 39 percent of Democrats strongly oppose repealing the legislation.
Independents, meanwhile, are generally split on the issue, with 43 percent favoring repeal and 47 percent opposing it.
"Thus, a Republican president would have a clear mandate from his own party's supporters to attempt to overturn the law, as all of the Republican candidates have vowed to do if elected. However, such a position may turn off about as many independent voters as it attracts," Gallup said in a statement accompanying the release of the poll.
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said Monday he was unconcerned about the findings, arguing that Democrats could better frame the debate over the healthcare package.
"Give me one or two follow-up questions, I'll turn that poll for you," Durbin said Monday on MSNBC. "When I say to people: ‘Do you think as a family you would like to keep your child, fresh out of college, looking for a job, on your family's health insurance plan?’ Of course."
A slight plurality of Americans — 45 percent versus 44 — believe that Congress's passing the law was a positive. But with such a poor showing in important swing states that the president must hold in November to secure reelection — and with three-quarters of Americans saying that a requirement to buy health insurance is unconstitutional — Obama faces an uphill battle in defending the law come November.
Daniel Strauss contributed.