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We know that ObamaCare is unpopular with the public, but do voters agree with conservatives about what should happen next? Some new polling from McLaughlin Associates, on behalf of Independent Women’s Voice and our Bridge to Better project, shows encouraging results:
No surprise, American voters disapprove of Obamacare 52% to 44%. But the survey provided important insight into what Americans want to do with the unpopular law. Only one-in-four voters want to either keep the law as is (4%) or make minor changes to it (21%). On the other side, 20% want full repeal with no further legislative action, 28% want it repealed and replaced, and an additional 22% would keep the law, but with major changes. This is an important finding for Republicans: Most Americans want more than just repeal. They want a better health care system, either after repeal or by significantly changing current law.
Clearly it’s not just conservatives who want a change from ObamaCare. In fact, important swing voters also want reform. Among the 16% of all voters who are not voting for Republicans in Congress but disapprove of the job President Obama is doing, that rises to 61% supporting repeal/replace or major fixes, and an additional 25% simply wanting repeal.
What’s more, respondents want more than just good intentions. They want a strategic approach that maximizes the chance that we’ll make real headway going forward:
When asked which approach conservatives should pursue to oppose ObamaCare while President Obama is still in office, the majority – 55% to 24% – support limited targeted measures that prevent harm to average Americans while slowing or delaying the law and keeping every interest on board for full repeal in 2017, over solely pushing full repeal. Among conservative GOP voters, that differential rises to 59% to 29%.
Americans even embraced a long–term, strategic approach to the medical device tax. That tax is currently singled out for full repeal in the GOP budget. When it is explained that the medical device industry would have little incentive to expend any effort repealing ObamaCare in 2017 if this tax is repealed, only 22% of respondents favor repealing this tax now. The majority would prefer to suspend the tax “so the industry isn’t hurt, but then make clear that the full repeal of their tax will only occur when the entire law is repealed and all of the American people are granted relief at the same time” (34%) or leave the tax in place (21%).
Now, some more tactically-minded Republicans may think they can cast a free vote to repeal the medical device tax because it will inevitably be vetoed by President Obama. But what if a critical mass of Democrats also vote for repeal? Or what if the president’s veto threat evaporates, as it did with the recent Corker bill? If repeal of the medical device tax unexpectedly happens during Obama’s tenure, we lose a key part of the alliance necessary to take down the broader law after he leaves office.
The message hear is clear: hold strong, minimize the pain from ObamaCare where you can, and don’t lose sight of the bigger goal of getting rid of the law in 2017. For a more thorough breakdown, see my Townhall piece here.