Poll: Public OK with ObamaCare mandate delay

Forty-eight percent said the delay shows that the healthcare law is so flawed it should be dropped — an argument GOP leaders have made — while 46 percent said the delay "is just something that happens when changes are made to a complex system."

The results broke down along party lines: Nearly 80 percent of Republicans said the delay was a sign the law needed to be scrapped, while 70 percent of Democrats said it's just what happens. Independents were split.

Overall public opinion toward the Affordable Care Act remained divided. Forty-two percent of all respondents said they support the healthcare law, compared with 49 percent who oppose it. Those results are generally in line with other public polling.

Divided public opinion over the healthcare law is nothing new. Public opinion has been split, and usually has leaned negative, since the law was passed.

The new Washington Post/ABC poll does contain some bad news for the White House, however: The law is slipping among moderate and conservative Democrats — voters the party will badly need next year as it heads into tough Senate races in North Carolina, Arkansas and Alaska.

Just 46 percent of moderate and conservative Democrats said they support the healthcare law in the latest poll, down 11 points over the past year.

Democrats are hoping public opinion will improve as the law's major provisions take effect at the beginning of the year. Starting in January, if all goes according to plan, people will be able to buy insurance plans through new, competitive marketplaces, and the government will provide new tax credits to help cover the cost of premiums.

Republicans, on the other hand, are hoping for a botched rollout that would further undermine confidence in the healthcare law and the Democrats who passed it.