Public confidence in GOP on healthcare down by 6 points since Trump joined anti-ObamaCare lawsuit

Public confidence in Republicans' ability to handle health care and several other issues has declined in recent weeks, according to a new Hill-HarrisX poll released Thursday.

The survey of registered voters found that respondents' willingness to trust the GOP over Democrats on the topic of health care declined by 6 points when compared with an April 5-6 poll.

Thirty-one percent of participants in the May 5-6 survey said they had confidence in Republicans to handle the issue of health care, down from 37 percent who said the same previously.

Trust in Democrats to handle health care increased over the same time period by 3 points, from 42 percent to 45 percent.

Republican voters' willingness to trust GOP elected officials on health care was part of the decline. The new survey found that 72 percent of party loyalists said they preferred Republicans on the issue, down from 78 percent who said this in April.

Independent voters appear to have become even less trusting of Republican policymakers on the issue. In the new poll, 21 percent of independent respondents said they believed the GOP was best on healthcare, down from 34 percent who said the same previously.

In recent weeks, the Trump administration has raised the ire of some Republicans in Congress by joining in a lawsuit that argues that the 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA) should be completely overturned in light of a successful GOP effort to repeal the law's penalty for not purchasing insurance.

Several Republican senators have explicitly disagreed with the suit. Last week, Sen. Bill CassidyWilliam (Bill) Morgan CassidyUN Security Council to meet after Turkey launches Syria offensive Trump faces growing GOP revolt on Syria To win the federal paid family leave debate, allow states to lead the way MORE (R-La.) told the liberal news site Talking Points Memo that the interpretation sought by plaintiffs was "far-fetched," particularly in regards to eliminating the ACA's protections for people with expensive medical conditions.

In February, the Washington Post reported that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyFurious Republicans prepare to rebuke Trump on Syria Five ways Trump's Syria decision spells trouble The Hill's Morning Report — Arrest of Giuliani associates triggers many questions MORE (R-Calif.) had privately told party donors that a previous GOP effort to allow states to waive rules against insurance companies increasing rates on people with pre-existing conditions was the reason that Republicans lost control of the House last year.

"That was the defining issue and the most important issue in the race," McCarthy said, according to the Post.

Health care is one of several issues where public confidence in the GOP has declined, a comparison of the two surveys shows.

Trust in Republicans to handle taxes stood at 37 percent in the May survey, down 5 points from April. Democrats were trusted by 37 percent in both polls on the issue.

The GOP also lost ground on the economy with 42 percent of participants in the new survey saying they preferred Republicans to handle it, a decline of 3 points from the 45 percent who said the same in April. Democrats did not gain support on the issue, however, and remained at their lower level of 33 percent.

On the topics of immigration, foreign policy, homeland security, education, the environment, regulations, and poverty, both parties retained similar levels of trust between both studies.

The May 5-6 survey was conducted online among a statistically representative sample of 1,000 registered voters with a confidence level of 95 percent and a sampling margin of error of 3.1 percentage points.

—Matthew Sheffield