A majority of Americans see the website glitches at healthcare.gov as a sign of broader problems implementing the new federal health care law. But it’s not enough to send them screaming.
Online snafus aside, a new ABC News/Washington Post poll finds that Americans divide about evenly on the law itself, 46-49 percent – near its average since the law was passed, and in fact a slightly less negative assessment than a month ago. Moreover, two-thirds either support the law outright or are willing to let it proceed and see how it works, vs. one-third who favor its repeal.
Barack Obama, for his part, gets only a 41 percent approval rating for handling implementation of the law, vs. 53 percent disapproval. But Obama’s approval on the issue actually is up by 7 percentage points from last month, with fewer now undecided. Obama addressed the issue at a White House event today, calling the website problems unacceptable and saying fixes are under way.
Certainly the problems are unwelcome for the administration and other proponents of the law: Just 40 percent of Americans in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, see the website problems as an isolated incident. Fifty-six percent, instead, see them as a sign of broader problems putting the law into effect.
Still, as noted, the glitches do not appear to have impacted bottom-line assessments of the law or of Obama’s performance implementing it. And predispositions do come into play in views of the computer problems, with criticism far higher among those who oppose the law in the first place.
Specifically, among the law’s supporters, 38 percent see the website flaws as a sign of broader problems. That soars to 74 percent of the law’s opponents, and 88 percent of those who favor its repeal.
At 46-49 percent, support vs. opposition on the law itself compares with an average of 44-50 percent since it was passed by Congress in March 2010. The current 3-point gap between support and opposition is not statistically significant, a change from the 10-point spread, 42-52 percent, last month.
In intensity of sentiment, “strong” opposition continues to exceed strong support, now by 11 points.
Among those who don’t support the law, six in 10 want it repealed, while nearly four in 10 (37 percent) favor letting it go ahead anyway and seeing how it works. Among all Americans, that adds up to two-thirds who either support the law outright (46 percent) or are willing to give it a try (20 percent), vs., as noted, 33 percent who favor its repeal.
Notably, a fifth of those who oppose the law say that’s not because it does too much to change the health care system, but because it does not go far enough. That’s about the same as in an ABC/Post poll almost three years ago.
GROUPS – As ever, views on the law divide very sharply along partisan and ideological lines. Two-thirds of Democrats support it, seven in 10 Republicans oppose it (including six in 10 of them “strongly”) and independents tilt in opposition, 42-53 percent. Ideological divisions are similar, and in combination, 75 percent of liberal Democrats support the law, while 76 percent of conservative Republicans oppose it.
Those divisions carry across attitudes on the subject. But there are differences in intensity. Just 49 percent of Democrats strongly approve of Obama’s handling of the law’s implementation, for instance, while 80 percent of Republicans strongly disapprove. And 60 percent of Republicans favor repealing the law, vs. a third of independents and 10 percent of Democrats.
METHODOLOGY – This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by telephone Oct. 17-20, 2013, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 1,002 adults, including landline and cell-phone-only respondents. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 points, including design effect. Partisan divisions are 30-24-40 percent, Democrats-Republicans-independents.
The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, N.Y., with sampling, data collection and tabulation by Abt-SRBI of New York, N.Y.