Is the Affordable Care Act as unpopular as we've been told? No, apparently . . .

by Brian Wolfman

Take a close look at this story about a new CNN poll. The first thing you see is this:

So, it looks like 59% oppose the ACA and only 40% support it. If you are an ACA supporter that doesn't sound very good, though it's up from December 2013, when the numbers were 62% opposed, 35% in support.

But look closer at the whole story. The 59% includes people who oppose the ACA "from the left," that is, people who oppose the ACA because it doesn't go far enough in providing universal healthcare (as a single-payer system more like Medicare would do). So, seven paragraphs into CNN's story, we read:

"Not all of the opposition to the health care law comes from the right," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Thirty-eight percent say they oppose the law because it's too liberal, but 17% say they oppose it because it's not liberal enough. That means more than half the public either favors Obamacare, or opposes it because it doesn't go far enough."

Now add to that another bit of CNN polling data. Though only 18% of those polled said that the ACA helped them personally, 53% said that the ACA helped their families or others in the U.S.

That makes me think the law is going to continue to grow in popularity. First of all, plenty of people like to help others and favor public programs even when they don't provide them with an immediate personal benefit. Adults without kids don't generally want to abolish the public schools. Moreover, it's in the nature of insurance that when the insurance is first obtained it may be seen as helping others more than one's self. But, as time goes on, more people need to cash in on the insurance. And, in this case, we are talking about health insurance, which nearly everyone needs to use at one point or another. So, more people will face situations where they can get subsidized insurance on an exchange or are not rejected because of a prexisting condition. More parents will be able to get coverage for their kids under age 26. More single people who are out of work, with little money, will find themselves in a state that has opted into the Medicaid expansion.

So, particularly if the ACA survives major court challenges, it seems likely that it will grow in popularity.