- 55% approve of Obamacare, tying prior high from April 2017
- Approval has typically been 50% or higher during Trump years
- Most Republicans disapprove of the law and want it repealed
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Americans' support for the 2010 Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, has increased to a record-tying high of 55% after averaging 51% from 2017 through 2019. The act was less popular when President Barack Obama was in office, averaging 44% and never reaching 50%.
Line graph. Fifty-five percent of Americans approve of the Affordable Care Act, tying the high in Gallup's trend dating back to 2012. The low point was 37% approval in October 2014. Support has mostly been 50% or higher since 2017.
The prior time support for the ACA reached 55% was in April 2017 as the Republican-led House of Representatives worked on a plan to repeal the law, which they did in May. The Senate voted against repeal, leaving the law in place.
The latest update, from a Nov. 5-19 poll, was taken as the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on the latest legal challenge to the law brought by Republican officials. The Court will issue its ruling sometime in 2021.
Gallup first measured Americans' support for the ACA in November 2012, at which time 48% approved. That would prove the high point in support during the Obama administration. Approval fell to as low as 37% in November 2014 after that year's midterm elections, which saw Republicans make gains, in part by making repeal of the law a campaign issue.
Subsequent polls in 2015 and 2016 found slightly higher support, and the final poll taken during the Obama administration in November 2016 showed 42% of Americans approving of the law.
After Donald Trump took office in 2017, and he and his fellow Republicans attempted to weaken or repeal the law, public support has been 50% or higher in all but one survey (48% in November 2018). This has been due to higher approval among Democrats and independents, likely reflecting Democrats or Democratic leaners rallying in support of Obama's signature policy achievement.
Currently, 94% of Democrats and 13% of Republicans approve of the law, as do 57% of independents.
Line graph. Approval of the Affordable Care Act by party. Democrats have consistently been the group most likely to support the law, with support usually above 70%, including better than 80% support since 2017. Independents have mostly been above 50% support since 2017, whereas they were mostly below that mark prior to that. At most, 17% of Republicans have approved of the law.
Most Want Changes to Affordable Care Act
Even though a majority of Americans approve of Obamacare, most of its supporters still want to see changes to the law. Sixty-two percent of those who approve of the law say they want to keep it in place but make significant changes to it, while 37% want it kept in place largely as it is.
Opponents of the law are much more inclined to want to see the law repealed and replaced with a different plan (68%) than prefer keeping the law in place but changing it significantly (29%).
All told, 20% of Americans approve of the law and want it kept in place largely as it is, 34% approve but want to see changes to it, 12% disapprove of the law and want significant changes made to it, and 30% disapprove and want to repeal and replace it with a different plan.
Six in 10 Republicans disapprove of the ACA and want it repealed, while a nearly equal percentage of Democrats (59%) approve of the law but want to see changes made to it.
Asked of those who disapprove of the law): If you had to choose, would you rather - [ROTATED: repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with a different plan, (or) keep the Affordable Care Act in place but make significant changes to it]?
|Approve, keep law as-is||20||34||21||6|
|Approve, change law significantly||34||59||35||7|
|Disapprove, change law significantly||12||4||13||21|
|Disapprove, repeal and replace||30||2||28||60|
|Nov. 5-19, 2020|
When Joe Biden was vice president, he helped President Obama pass the Affordable Care Act. With Biden set to take office as president next year, he will now attempt to strengthen the law and improve it. But the law must pass a Supreme Court challenge, the third time a challenge to the law has reached the high court. The legal maneuvers come when the law is as popular with Americans as it has ever been. News reports of the oral arguments suggest that the Court appears likely to uphold the law rather than strike it down.
With Biden able to veto any further legislative attempts to overturn the law, it appears it will stay in place for at least four more years if no further court cases emerge. Given the patterns in support for Obamacare during the Obama administration versus the Trump administration, though, it may be the case that the law may lose some of its popularity under a new Democratic administration.
Learn more about how the Gallup Poll Social Series works.