Obamacare Is No Longer a Republican Punching Bag

As long as we’re taking a look at public opinion, here’s a remarkable turnaround:

Opposition to Obamacare Becomes Political Liability for GOP Incumbents

In the 2014 elections, Republicans rode a wave of anti-Affordable Care Act sentiment to pick up nine Senate seats, the largest gain for either party since 1980…Six years later, those senators are up for reelection. Not only is the law still around, but it’s gaining in popularity. What was once a winning strategy has become a political liability.

Public sentiment about the ACA, also known as Obamacare, has shifted considerably during the Trump administration after Republicans tried but failed to repeal it. Now, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing economic crisis, which has led to the loss of jobs and health insurance for millions of people, health care again looks poised to be a key issue for voters this election.

The New York Times likewise reports that Republicans referred to Obamacare a grand total of once at this week’s convention, and Donald Trump didn’t mention it at all. However, this had nothing to do with not wanting to offend his audience of Republicans, who have given Obamacare a rock steady 75 percent unfavorable rating for the past decade. Rather, it had to do with not offending his TV audience, which included a lot of independents who have lately become far more favorable to Obamacare:

Among independents, Obamacare has gone from a net -11 percent unfavorable to +16 percent favorable over the past five years. That’s a tough trend for Republicans to fight. They might not need any Democratic votes to win elections, but they certainly need independent votes. It’s no wonder so many of them are keeping a low profile instead of loudly promising to repeal Obamacare.

This is exactly how I thought things would go with Obamacare: it would eventually be accepted as just another beloved social program, like Medicare and Social Security. I sure never expected it to take this long, though.

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FACT:

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Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2021 demands.

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