Perceptions of Obamacare Remain Largely Unchanged in More Than a Year After Becoming LawJuly 8, 2011
Resurgent Republic sponsored a series of focus groups in June in four battleground states: Pennsylvania, Virginia, Florida, and Colorado. We measured voter sentiments on the current state of the economy, increasing the debt ceiling, and the debate over Medicare. We also probed voter opinion regarding President Obama’s handling of the economy and whether voters believe President Obama has put forward the right policies to spur job growth.
Independent voters’ growing disapproval of President Obama’s policies has been well documented by Resurgent Republic dating back to April 2009. The majority of Independents in this focus group series represent a specific segment of swing voters: Independents who voted for Obama and still somewhat approve of his job performance. These voters comprise President Obama’s last line of electoral defense.
Of the 41 registered or self-identified Independents in our groups, 31 supported President Obama in 2008 and 26 approve of his job performance today while 12 disapprove and 3 are unsure. All are undecided on the 2012 generic presidential ballot. In addition to swing voters, this series included separate focus groups with Hispanics, Soft Republicans, Strong Republicans, and Tea Party voters.
Nearly 15 months after becoming law, the perception of President Obama’s health care law is largely unchanged.
When asked their perception of the new law, Obamacare seems just as complicated and bureaucratic as it was to them during the peak of the national debate. Yet the intensity on this issue has decreased among these Independents, with their attention predominantly on the economy. Some cited an increase in their health care premiums in the past year, while a few voters positively mentioned adding dependent coverage until the age of 26. The argument to repeal and replace the law received mixed response due to concern that those efforts have an uncertain outcome and would divert attention from the economy. This is consistent with their view that President Obama diverted attention from the economy by focusing on passing his health care bill in the first place. Among the Republican base and Tea Party voters, the intensity on this issue remains strong, and they unanimously want the law repealed. They also expressed satisfaction with the actions congressional Republicans have taken so far to repeal the new law.
Voters in all the groups did not immediately voice concern that Obamacare is a drag on small businesses and hindering job creation.
Among the Pennsylvania Independents there was an undertone questioning why the president spent the better part of his first two years on health care and not their top priority of job creation. This notion led one male Independent to conclude that President Obama “took his eye off the ball” and another said the president was more interested in getting a “trophy.”
Yet free-market advocates should be aware that Independent voters did not immediately voice concern that Obamacare imposes burdensome regulations on small businesses. When asked, most concede that the law will hurt the economy, so there remains malleability on this issue. The Republican base and Tea Party participants quickly saw Obamacare as bad for the economy and having a negative impact on health care. Reminding all voters of how the law will become an increasing drag on the economy should be a priority.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (PA-08)
June 21, 2011
Independent Men (under 55) / Independent Women (under 55)
Conducted by The Tarrance Group
Virginia Beach, Virginia (VA-02)
June 23, 2011
Strong Republicans / Tea Party Voters
Conducted by McLaughlin & Associates
Orlando, Florida (FL-08)
June 29, 2011
Independent Men (55+) / Independent Women (55+)
Conducted by American Viewpoint
Denver, Colorado (Denver Suburbs)
June 30, 2011
Soft Republicans / Hispanics
Conducted by Public Opinion Strategies
Read the full report: Voters See No End In Sight To Economic Decline; Debt Ceiling Debate Galvanizes Opinions Of President Obama's Job Performance