A new poll finds Americans evenly split on the Affordable Care Act -- but not all the polls agree. A survey of veterans find many feel disconnected from civilian life. And Americans back sanctions against Russia, even though most don't think that they'll work. This is HuffPollster for Monday, March 31, 2014.
ACA SUPPORT RISES - Gary Langer: "Public support for the Affordable Care Act narrowly notched a new high in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, while criticism of Barack Obama’s handling of the law’s rollout – although still substantial – has eased from its peak last fall. Views hardly are enthusiastic: With the year’s sign-up deadline upon us, Americans split on Obamacare, 49 percent in support, 48 percent opposed. But that compares with a 40-57 percent negative rating after the initial failure of the federal enrollment website last November….Taking it another way, while not statistically significant, this survey’s +1 positive score for the law is a first. " [ABC]
As does Democratic support - Scott Clement and Peyton M. Craighill: "Democrats are rallying back behind the 2010 health reform law and boosting President Obama's ratings for handling the law's rollout, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. But most Republicans and independents remain stubbornly opposed to Obama's signature first-term achievement, making the law a continued liability for Democratic candidates as this year's midterm elections get underway. Independents are less negative about Republican efforts to reform the Affordable Care Act itself….Democratic support has surged to a record-tying 76 percent, jumping 11 percentage points since January to the highest level since March 2010, immediately after the law was passed. Currently at 78 percent, Republican opposition has outpaced Democratic support by double digits in nearly every poll over the past two years, but in the latest survey they are within three percentage points." [WashPost]
Other polls tell a different story - Three other polls conducted in mid-to-late March -- from CBS News, the Kaiser Family Foundation and the GWU/Battleground poll -- find opposition to Obamacare still significantly outpacing support. However, both the CBS and Kaiser surveys also show a slight increase in support for the ACA following a bit of a dip in the aftermath of the troubled roll-out of the plan in late 2013. The ABC/Post question, which makes no reference to President Obama but asks about "the federal law making changes to the health care system," has typically yielded greater support for the ACA (44 percent on average since September 2009) than other polls asking support/oppose question over the same time period (40 percent). [CBS, GWU, KFF, Pollster chart]
POLL OF VETERANS REVEALS ENDURING EFFECTS OF WAR - Rajiv Chandrasekaran: "More than half of the 2.6 million Americans dispatched to fight the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan struggle with physical or mental health problems stemming from their service, feel disconnected from civilian life and believe the government is failing to meet the needs of this generation’s veterans, according to a poll conducted by The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation….Almost 60 percent say the VA is doing an “only fair” or “poor” job in addressing the problems faced by veterans, and half say the military is lagging in its efforts to help them transition to civilian life, which has been difficult for 50 percent of those who have left active service….Their responses reveal nuanced views of their lives, their service and their treatment by the government. Almost three in four believe the average American appreciates their service, but fewer — only 52 percent — like talking about their wartime experiences with casual acquaintances or strangers. Nearly 90 percent performed actions in Iraq or Afghanistan that made them feel proud, yet only 35 percent believe both wars were worth fighting." [WashPost]
AMERICANS SUPPORT SANCTIONS BUT DON'T THINK THEY'LL WORK - Emily Swanson: "Most Americans support imposing sanctions on Russia as a result of Russia's recent actions in Ukraine, a new HuffPost/YouGov poll finds. But the poll shows few believe sanctions will actually discourage Russia from further action, and less than a third support sanctions if Russia's response might hurt the economy. In response to an initial question, 60 percent of Americans in the poll said that they support imposing economic sanctions on Russia, while only 17 percent said that they were opposed. Another 22 percent said they weren't sure….Americans' unwillingness to sacrifice on the domestic front because of sanctions may stem in part from the fact that few think they will actually work. Only 5 percent of poll respondents said they thought economic sanctions against Russia would be very effective at preventing Russia from taking further action in Ukraine or other countries." [HuffPost]
REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE CITES PPP IN AD - The folks that track television advertising at Kantar Media/CMAG send along news that Ted Alexander, one of the eight candidates vying for the Republican Senate nomination in North Carolina, aired a new television spot over the weekend with an unusual opening line during a Sunday morning political news show: "Meet the candidate that Public Policy Polling has shown to have the best chance of defeating Kay Hagan this fall." Statewide candidates seldom reference polling data in their television advertising. Stranger still, PPP is a North Carolina based firm whose automated polls for Democrats are the frequent target of barbs from Republicans.
Why cite a Democratic pollster? Ted Alexander told HuffPollster that he believes while PPP leans "more toward the left," that their polling is even-handed. His campaign decided to to reference the poll, he explained, because the PPP poll had shown him doing slightly better against Hagan two months in a row. "We wanted to make sure that people knew that whenever they select a candidate, usually what you try to do is get the most conservative one that can win," he said. "And in this respect, we think that I'm that person."
Is Alexander really the most electable? - Not really, says PPP Director Tom Jensen. "I think the claim is a bit of a stretch since the race is within the margin of error no matter who the Republican is," Jensen explained via email. "But when polling companies put data into the public sphere campaigns are going to use it if it serves their purpose, just part of the game." In both February and March, Alexander won 45 percent of the vote compared to between 43 and 40 percent for the other Republican candidates, all on a poll that reported a margin of sampling errors of +/- 3 to 4 percent. Alexander explains that his campaign "thought it was kind of significant" that he did slightly better against Hagan than other Republicans "two months in a row." [PPP results from March and February]
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MONDAY'S 'OUTLIERS' - Links to the best of news at the intersection of polling, politics and political data:
-Rand Paul and Mike Huckabee lead in a GOP 2016 poll. [WPA]
-Virginia voters back medical marijuana [Quinnipiac]
-John Sides estimates Republicans could have an 80 percent chance of retaking the Senate. [Monkey Cage]
-Democratic worries about turnout intensify. [LA Times]
-Many Latinos may not turn out in 2014. [NYT]
-Andrew Kohut summarizes demographic challenges facing Democrats in 2014. [WSJ]
-Harry Enten says the Democrats' problems are about more than turnout. 
-Paul Steinhauser lists five things polling is telling us about Obamacare. [CNN]
-The Glover Park Group compiles findings from publicly released polls on the ACA. [GPG]
-As D.C. mayoral hopefuls wrap up campaigning, early turnout numbers are low. [WaPo]
-Voters oppose tougher gun control for the first time since the Newtown shootings. [Rasmussen]
-Marist posts video of its recent 35 year anniversary panel, featuring Marist's Lee Miringoff and Barbara Carvalho and journalists Mark Murray, Michael Oreskes, Steve Thomma and Amy Walter. [Marist]
-Facebook maps baseball fandom by county. [WSJ]
-Fox's chart of ACA signups has an unusual y-axis. [TNR]
-Most Americans would trade health care benefits for build your own sundae bar [The Onion]