By Jonathan Easley - 03/26/14 12:01 AM EDT
Most voters still view ObamaCare negatively, but the margin has narrowed considerably since the beginning of the year, a new poll found.
That’s an 8-point improvement over Kaiser's January poll, when 50 percent had a negative view and 34 percent had a positive view of the healthcare law. It’s a 4-point improvement over February, when the margin was 47 percent to 35 percent.
The first-ever open enrollment period closes at the end of the month, and after an extremely rocky start, the Obama administration hopes to have momentum coming out of March.
The administration said 5.2 million people had selected a plan through the middle of March and has long expected a flood of enrollees to close out the period. If the White House can hit the Congressional Budget Office’s reduced forecast of 6 million enrollees, which was reduced from 7 million after the website malfunctioned for two months, that could go a long way to repairing public and political perception of the law.
But hitting that mark isn’t a given — the poll found 39 percent were aware of the March 31 deadline. The remaining respondents either didn’t know, thought the deadline had passed or believed it to be after March 31. In addition, 50 percent of the uninsured said they intended to stay that way, against 40 percent who said they would buy healthcare, and 10 percent who said they were unsure.
The Obama administration is doing everything in its power to get the word out ahead of the deadline. The president, vice president, first lady and myriad officials and advisers have been all over the airwaves urging people to sign up.
The administration has also enlisted celebrities, partnered with Spanish-language media outlets and sought to leverage the popular NCAA basketball tournament to get the word out.
Democrats face a touch election map in 2014 and need support for the president and his signature legislative achievement to move positively between now and November.
Voters appear to be tiring of the debate, according to Kaiser, with 53 percent saying the country should begin to focus on other issues. Forty-nine percent said the law should be kept but improved, 18 said it should be repealed outright, and 11 percent said it should be replaced with a Republican alternative.
The Kaiser survey of 1,504 adults was conducted between March 11 and March 17 and has a 3-percentage-point margin of error.