There's a 'new reality' for Democrats on Obamacare

There’s a “new reality” for Democratic candidates with an issue that confounded the party in the 2014 midterm elections: Obamacare is no longer much of a liability.

A new Public Policy Polling survey, the results of which were shared with Business Insider ahead of its release Monday, found support for the Affordable Care Act evenly split. Overall, 41% of Americans said they support the law, compared with 39% who oppose it.

“Public opinion on Obamacare is pretty much evenly divided — new reality that it isn’t a liability for Dems anymore,” Tom Jensen, the director of Public Policy Polling, told Business Insider.

Polling from the Kaiser Family Foundation has found that the law, the signature domestic achievement of President Barack Obama, did not play an overwhelming role in handing Democrats huge losses in the 2014 midterm elections. Just 8% of Republicans and 13% of Democrats said healthcare was among their top-two factors.

Yet it played significantly on the campaign trail. In the aftermath of the healthcare law’s fiasco of an initial rollout, Republicans pounced, and Democrats were wary of embracing the law as it began to provide benefits to millions of Americans. Many Democrats have said their candidates’ reluctance to tout the law’s pros, in retrospect, was a mistake.

Now, how you view the law depends largely on political affiliation. Liberal voters strongly support the Affordable Care Act, according to PPP, while conservative voters are staunchly opposed. A plurality of self-identified moderate voters, meanwhile, supports the healthcare law.

Jensen said the partisan divide on Obamacare has become the norm in the firm’s polling.

“This is about where it’s been over the course of the year,” he said. “After the implementation difficulties had passed and people actually started receiving health care through the program it got a lot more popular.”

It’s why Democratic candidates up to the party’s presidential front-runner, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, have taken a vastly different approach this election cycle. Clinton often praises the law’s successes and says she wants to “build” on them.

“We want to build on it and fix it,” she said at Saturday’s Democratic debate in New Hampshire.

Still, the eventual Democratic nominee and the party’s down-ballot candidates will be forced to grapple with what Clinton referred to as “glitches” on Saturday — rising healthcare premiums. Though for the most part, those premiums are increasing at a slower rate than in recent history.

View the full poll below:

Public Policy Polling national poll

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