In the gym this afternoon, I saw a Fox News show where they mentioned a poll that had Obamacare 30-something % favorable and 60% unfavorable. That got me wondering how Obamacare polls compared with the Democrats’ bete noir, the Iraq war.
First, Obamacare. Polls jump around as always, but this one is pretty typical. What people think of the law depends on what you call it. If you ask them about the “Affordable Care Act,” they disapprove by 39%-55%. If you ask them about Obamacare, they disapprove by 34%-60%. (So much for Obama’s magic political touch.)
How about the Iraq war? The numbers varied widely over time, of course; they started out highly favorable, then became unfavorable as the war was seen as going poorly, then came up somewhat after the surge. The history of Gallup’s polling is here. Gallup tabulated those who said the Iraq war was “a mistake,” versus “not a mistake.” At its lowest point, the Iraq war polled just slightly worse than Obamacare–63% “mistake” to 36% “not a mistake.” But “mistake” only reached 60% on a handful of occasions. During 2006 and 2007, when the war was going most poorly, an average of 56% called the war a mistake, while on the average, 42% said it was not a mistake. Most recently (March 2013), “mistake” came out on top by 53%-42%.
So I think it is fair to say that Obamacare is more unpopular than the Iraq war. There is this, too: the Iraq war didn’t become unpopular until it had been underway for a long time, and the results were perceived as poor. Obamacare hasn’t even been implemented yet, and already it is widely reviled. There is every reason to think that as the act’s consequences become more apparent, it will be even more unpopular.
There is a sweet irony here, if you are a Republican. It was the Iraq war that caused liberals to become hysterical in their detestation of George Bush. Barack Obama was nominated for president largely because of his pure record of opposition to the Iraq war. So it is nice to see that Obama’s signature “accomplishment”–his only one, really–is already more unpopular than his predecessor’s supposedly most awful failure.