Supporters of President Barack Obama's health care law, the Affordable Care Act, have been climbing uphill when it comes to public opinion since its 2010 passage. But a new poll showing support for the law's implementation, paired with the harsh defeat of Republican efforts to defund the law, may be giving Democrats hope they can turn it into a 2014 election winner.
According to a new survey commissioned by Democracy Corps and Women's Voices Women's Vote Action Fund - both Democratic groups - just 38 percent of voters oppose the law because they see it as government overreach.
"While likely voters divide evenly on the plan, 8 percent oppose the law because it does not go far enough," wrote pollsters Stan Greenberg, James Carville and Erica Seifert in a memo accompanying the poll release. "As a result, just 38 percent oppose the law because it is big government."
And as the law nears full implementation, strong opposition is dropping – down 10 percent since 2010 to 34 percent – thanks to popular provisions that have been rolled out early.
"The biggest shifts on favorability since 2010 come not from partisans but from independents and key groups, including unmarried women, white non-college [educated] voters and seniors," the memo said. "These are also the groups most likely to report that they are seeing the benefits of the law. This is not being driven by partisans aligning their views; this is being driven by the relevance of the changes to people's lives."
The law is even making inroads within Republican held districts.
"A plurality of voters in Republican-held House districts and a quarter of those voting Republican say they are less likely to support their Republican incumbents shutting down the government because of Obamacare," the pollsters wrote. "Opponents of the Affordable Care Act could pay a very high price in 2014 and for a generation."
That is in stark contrast to 2010 when Republicans swept into control of the House on the backs of widespread angst regarding the sweeping reform law.
The poll also showed the recent Republican effort to defund or dismantle Obamacare that resulted in a government shutdown and brought the country to the brink of a credit default will harm Republicans going forward.
"Republicans are already paying the price – in Republican districts, nearly half, 47 percent, say they are less likely to vote for the Republican incumbent," according to the memo. "Even among those who currently support their Republican incumbents, [about] a quarter, 23 percent, say they are less likely to vote for their GOP representatives because of the shutdown — 10 percent say much less likely."
The poll surveyed 860 likely voters from Oct. 6-8 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.18 percent.
Though Democrats might be encouraged by the current polling results, their fortunes may turn again with the attention shifting from the shutdown controversy to the rocky rollout of the health insurance marketplaces known as exchanges.