POLITICS
11/14/2013 05:41 pm ET

HUFFPOLLSTER: Obamacare Support Shows Signs Of Decline

ASSOCIATED PRESS

New readings on Obamacare show support declining in early November. Americans increasingly cite health care as a major concern. And George Soros drop $2.5 million more on Catalist. This is HuffPollster for Thursday, November 14, 2013.

OBAMA'S APPROVAL ON HEALTH CARE DECLINES - Jeffrey M. Jones: "Americans' views of the 2010 healthcare law have worsened in recent weeks, with 40% approving and 55% disapproving of it. For most of the past year, Americans have been divided on the law, usually tilting slightly toward disapproval. The now 15-percentage-point gap between disapproval and approval is the largest Gallup has measured in the past year." [Gallup]

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Too early to tell? In mid-October, HuffPollster reviewed seven national polls that asked "approve-or-disapprove" questions on the health care law and found slight upticks in support in six out of seven. None of those seven pollsters have yet asked the question this month. New Gallup and Quinnipiac University polls show movement in the opposite direction, but these poll questions use widely varying wording and format, making comparisons across polls harder. As a result, the Pollster chart so far shows no real shift in support or opposition, but the trend lines will change if additional polls in the next few weeks show similar results. [HuffPollster, Pollster chart]

HEALTH CARE INCREASINGLY SEEN AS A BIG PROBLEM - Alyssa Brown: "The percentage of Americans mentioning healthcare as the country's most important problem increased to 19% in November from 12% in October, as technical issues with the federal health insurance website continue and the White House faces criticism over people being dropped from their health plans. Healthcare now ranks second behind dissatisfaction with government as the top problem, but ahead of the economy in general, unemployment, and the federal debt." [Gallup]

MORE ON DEMOCRATS INTERNAL MODELING IN VA - Kantar-CMAG's Elizabeth Wilner: "Democrats’ growing use of voter files, histories and other data in their campaign polling, and the persistence of Republican and publicly available polls that don’t, means we may face an outbreak of races in 2014 in which the results diverge from conventional wisdom as they did in Virginia... [T]he issue with the public polling is that many don’t account for the fact that a respondent’s enthusiasm for a particular candidate at the particular time of the poll might affect his or her willingness to take part in the poll at all. In other words, the likely voter screens used in public polls may happen too late in the process, resulting in polls that overstate the margin for the candidate who’s “up” and/or understate support for a candidate who’s “down"...The approach [analytics and targeting firm] BlueLabs took for McAuliffe’s campaign, on the other hand, was to conduct extensive modeling on the front end to figure out what the electorate was likely to look like on Election Day, build samples off the Virginia voter files, then go into the field for one week at a time with short tracking surveys asking basic questions. According to Erin Hartman, the BlueLabs co-founder who headed up the analytics polling operation for the campaign, they started with a sample of about 1,000 in June and escalated to 12,000 by October. The approach allowed them to account for dynamics affecting voters’ willingness to respond to polls as the race progressed, including poll fatigue and reactions to big events that might affect respondents’ enthusiasm, such as debates." [Cook Political]

GEORGE SOROS REINVESTS IN LIBERAL DATA INFRASTRUCTURE - Nicholas Confessore: "Liberal and Democratic-leaning groups, facing a difficult midterm election next year without the technological muscle of the Obama campaign behind them, are preparing a major effort to improve their data infrastructure. George Soros, the retired hedge fund billionaire and longtime patron of liberal causes, will invest $2.5 million in the effort, officials involved with the plan said. His participation is a signal that some of the wealthy donors who arrived late to the Democrats’ 'super PAC' efforts in 2012 are committing early for the next round. The initiative opens up a new front in the “big data” arms race between the left and right, as the Republican Party and conservative outside groups pour money into political technology after a presidential campaign in which they were badly outmatched….Mr. Soros and other alliance donors were early investors in Catalist, which was formed after the loss to what Democrats regarded as a technologically superior opponent: President George W. Bush’s re-election campaign in 2004." [NYT]

-Victory Lab Author Sasha Issenberg: "Better headline: "Soros Throws Catalist a Lifeline." [@victorylab]

AMERICANS SPLIT ON ATHEISTS' PLACE ON THE SUPREME COURT - Emily Swanson: "A recent comment by Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer led some atheist advocates to speculate he might be one of them. A new HuffPost/YouGov poll suggests that Americans would be split over whether that was a good thing. According to the poll, 40 percent of Americans would approve of the president nominating an atheist to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court, while almost as many -- 38 percent -- said they would disapprove….The poll found that 45 percent of Americans think a potential justice's religious beliefs should not be relevant during the nominations process, while 36 percent said the president should take those beliefs into account. Republicans were especially likely to disapprove of the idea of nominating an atheist justice (56 percent to 26 percent), while pluralities of Democrats (49 percent to 34 percent) and independents (42 percent to 34 percent) said they would approve." [HuffPost]

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THURSDAY'S 'OUTLIERS' - Links to more news at the intersection of polling, politics and political data:

-Frank Newport notes that the Senate ENDA vote was generally in line with public opinion. [Gallup]

-Jonathan Bernstein doubts Obama's falling approval will have much of an electoral effect. [Plain Blog About Politics]

-Whit Ayres (R) says the Obamacare rollout is a point of inflection for Obama comparable to the response to Hurricane Katrina by President Bush. [National Review]

-Sen. Ted Cruz has gained among Texas Republicans since the summer, while fellow Sen. John Cornyn has fallen. [Texas Tribune]

-Sean Trende finds that campaign spending matters more for congressional challengers than incumbents. [RCP]

-Andrew Gelman argues that statistics, while important, is the least important part of data science. [AndrewGelman.com]

-Facebook leads the way as a social media pathway to news. [Pew Research]

-A report on the "peer pressure mailers" sent in Virginia to get out the vote. [Watchdog.org via @KWCollins]

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