WASHINGTON, D.C. -- President Barack Obama defended his signature legislative achievement, the Affordable Care Act, before Congress and the nation last week in his State of the Union address, but public opinion toward the law is little changed since November. Americans are still more likely to disapprove (51%) than approve (41%) of the law.
The latest results, from a Gallup poll conducted Jan. 31-Feb. 1, show that even though many provisions of the law are now in effect, Americans' views of the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as "Obamacare," still tilt negative.
Underpinning this lack of overall support is the fact that most Americans believe the law so far has had no effect (64%) or a harmful effect (19%) on their family. These opinions are broadly consistent with Gallup polling dating back to February 2012, when fewer provisions of the law were in place.
Americans Remain Pessimistic About Health Law's Long-Term Effects
While it likely will take some time to measure the full impact of the law, most Americans predict that the law will not personally benefit them or help improve the national healthcare situation. Less than a quarter of U.S. adults (24%) say that in the long run, the healthcare law will make their family's healthcare situation better, while nearly four in 10 (37%) say it will make their healthcare situation worse. About a third (34%) say it will have no effect.
Notably, views that the law would make Americans' own healthcare situation worse had been declining through October, as the botched rollout of the healthcare website occurred, but ticked up in November. However, this percentage has now receded to levels observed before the troubled rollout of the website.
Americans are slightly more optimistic that, in the long run, the law will make the healthcare situation in the U.S. better. Thirty-five percent hold this view, though a heftier 45% believe it will make the national healthcare situation worse. One in seven (14%) say the comprehensive law will not make much difference.
Even if the Affordable Care Act fulfills its purpose of improving the overall health of the nation by expanding individuals' access to insurance, public opinion of the law itself remains sickly. Americans' disapproval of the law has declined slightly since its peak late last year during the flawed rollout of the federal health exchange website, but a majority still disapprove of the law, and few believe it will make their current or future healthcare situation better.
Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Jan. 31-Feb. 1, 2014, on the Gallup Daily tracking survey, with a random sample of 1,017 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 most recent Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older U.S. population. Phone status targets are based on the most recent National Health Interview Survey. Population density targets are based on the most recent U.S. 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.