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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Public, Dems Want to Expand Obamacare

You may have heard references to recent opinion polling which indicates that discontent about Obamacare is rising. AP’s Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar eplains what is behind it in his article, “Stirred by Sanders, Democrats Shift Left on Health Care.” As Alonso-Zaldivar notes,

Two recent polls have shown an uptick in negative ratings of the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, and the shift seems to come from Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents. For example, in the latest installment of the Kaiser Family Foundation health care poll, the share of Democrats with unfavorable views increased by 6 percentage points.
Underlying the unease seems to be a growing conviction that the law did not do enough. About 27 million people remain uninsured, and many who gained coverage find it costly. Kaiser found that for the first time, a 51-percent majority of Democrats wants to expand what the law does, a sharp increase from the 36 percent who said so in December.

That’s a pretty significant increase in support for more government intervention in strengthening health security. Further,

Overall, Democrats still support the Obama health care law by broad margins, especially if the alternative is repealing it. But the nonpartisan polls released last week registered surprising movement.
A Pew Research Center poll found that overall the public disapproves of the law by 54-44 percent, a change from last summer when it found Americans almost evenly divided. Part of the explanation was a 12-point drop in support among Democratic-leaning independents.
Kaiser’s April tracking survey found 49 percent of Americans had an unfavorable view of the health law, with 38 percent favorable. That showed slippage from a 47-41 split in March.
Among Democrats, the share of those with unfavorable views went up from 19 percent in March to 25 percent in April. “It’s being driven by the Democrats. That’s what’s so interesting here,” said Mollyann Brodie, who directs the Kaiser poll.

Critics of Obamacare want the spin to point to less government involvement in healthcare. But the evidence says that is not the case. Overall, Americans want more government involvement in strengthening America’s health security, not less.
The author credits Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders, who has called for “Medicare for all,” with increasing pubic suport for moving in the direction of single-payer health care, or an expanded role for government in providing health security.
Majority or not, there is still a large segment of the public which doesn’t like Obamacare. Although some who feel this way have had experiences that influence their opinion, there are many who are unaware of the benefits of Affordable Care Act. This is the fault of Obamacare supporters, including the Administration, who have not done a particularly good job of educating the public.
This is part of a larger pattern of poor salesmanship and very little public education following legislative reforms, which afflicts Democrats more than the GOP. No, you can’t count on the press to do an adequate job of explaining new reforms. Their job is to sell their product, not yours.
Dems are good at twisting arms to get bills passed, but nearly clueless about how to educate the public. Republicans generally do a better job of selling their policies to the public, particularly when it comes to disparaging Democratic reforms.
FDR was arguably the last Democratic president who fully understood the importance of selling his reforms and educating the public about them — both before and after enactment. It’s as if Democrats, the so-called “party of big government” expect beneficial legislative reforms to sell themsleves, based on merit. Not gonna happen.
There needs to be a major poll to find out how much Americans actually know about the provisions of the ACA, for example. I suspect it would be shockingly little. Follow-up polling, after citizens are educated about particular reforms, would likely show an impressive uptick in public support.

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