PRINCETON, NJ -- Americans' attitudes toward the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, have stabilized after becoming more negative in November. Forty-one percent now approve of the law and 51% now disapprove. This marks a slight reduction in negative views over the last two and a half weeks, while positive attitudes have remained essentially flat.
This update is from Gallup polling conducted Dec. 11-12 amid news reports of progress toward fixing the federal government's healthcare exchange website.
Americans' attitudes about the law have varied over the past year, but became decidedly more negative in November as it became clear that the exchange website was not working properly. Now, with news reports of the government's partial success in fixing the website, the upward trajectory of negative views has stopped. Disapproval has slipped back from 55% and 54% in November to 51% now. At the same time, approval has held steady.
The law is closely associated with President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party, resulting in an enormous gap in Democrats' and Republicans' views toward it -- reminiscent of the type of partisanship found in presidential job ratings. At this point, three-quarters of Democrats approve of the law, contrasted with 10% of Republicans. Independents' support for the law is down slightly from November, while approval among both Democrats and Republicans has edged up.
Almost half of 18- to 29-year-olds approve of the healthcare law, compared with just about a third of Americans aged 65 and older. Some of this age gap no doubt reflects underlying differences in partisanship and attitudes toward Obama. It is also possible that the different ways the law affects the age groups are shaping attitudes. The individual mandate requires those who currently do not have health insurance -- disproportionately young people -- to get insurance, but may also benefit some younger people who need insurance and didn't have it before. Older Americans continue to be covered by Medicare, and therefore the law is least likely to affect them either positively or negatively.
The uptick in negative attitudes toward the Affordable Care Act in November has abated, with disapproval now down slightly from the highs of last month and approval essentially holding constant.
The healthcare law will undoubtedly be a focus in campaigns for next year's midterm elections, as it was in the 2010 and 2012 elections after its passage. Additionally, the percentage of uninsured who sign up for healthcare will become apparent in the new year, as the individual mandate takes hold. How all of this -- and other news surrounding the implementation of the law -- will affect Americans' attitudes about it will be a key focal point to monitor in 2014.
Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Dec. 11-12, 2013, on the Gallup Daily tracking survey, with a random sample of 1,011 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.
Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.
Samples are weighted to correct for unequal selection probability, nonresponse, and double coverage of landline and cell users in the two sampling frames. They are also weighted to match the national demographics of gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, population density, and phone status (cellphone only/landline only/both, cellphone mostly, and having an unlisted landline number). Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2012 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older U.S. population. Phone status targets are based on the July-December 2011 National Health Interview Survey. Population density targets are based on the 2010 census. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting.
In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.
For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit www.gallup.com.