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‘Obamacare’ likely to affect voting decisions, poll finds

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Obamacare is likely to affect voting decisions.
Obamacare is likely to affect voting decisions. - ()

Nearly seven in 10 Americans, 68 percent, say the Affordable Care Act will play a role in how they vote in the Congressional elections this fall.

And of that 68 percent, a third are likely to vote Republican while a quarter are likely to vote Democrat, according to the latest monthly poll from Bankrate.com, which tracks the response to the health reform law that requires Americans to get health coverage.

While the June poll indicated more support for Republicans than Democrats, about 35 percent didn’t lean in either direction, according to Bankrate.com insurance analyst Doug Whiteman.

"These results indicate that the messy launch of Obamacare won’t be as detrimental for Democrats or as much of a slam-dunk for Republicans in future elections as some analysts previously suggested,” Whiteman said.

The government’s HealthCare.gov website, where consumers can purchase government-subsidized health plans, crashed during its launch last October but eventually recovered. Millions have used HealthCare.gov to purchase health plans, including more than 160,000 New Jerseyans.

“I think there has been an assumption that Obamacare is going to be a decisive political issue in the fall and I think what we found is that while the law might be a motivating factor for many voters it might not motivate them in any one direction,” Whiteman told NJBIZ.

When the new Congress takes office in January 2015, over half of Americans, 52 percent, would like to see their representatives make minor or major changes to the Affordable Care Act, according to the poll. Thirty percent want Obamacare to be repealed completely, for a total of 82 percent looking for some change in ACA. The poll found that only 12 percent of Americans would keep the law exactly as it is.

In previous surveys, when respondents were asked if they would keep or repeal Obamacare, the results were split down the middle.

“This time we also gave the choice of making changes to the law, and that was the runaway winner this time, with more than half the respondents saying they would like either major or minor changes in the law,” Whiteman said. “I think that might reflect a growing feeling on the part of the public that Obamacare is here to stay, so let’s see if we can make it better.”

More Americans report that their health insurance situation is better now than it was a year ago. Whiteman said when Bankrate.com did its first survey in August 2013, 8 percent said their health insurance situation was better than a year ago. In the new survey, that increased to 16 percent.

Additional Findings:

  • 1-in-4 registered independents that identified Obamacare as an election issue say they are likely to vote Republican in the upcoming fall elections, while only 1-in-8 is inclined to vote Democrat.
  • 18- to 29-year-olds want Congress to make changes to Obamacare more than any other age group.
  • Americans with annual household incomes more than $50,000 are the most likely to say that Obamacare will play a factor in their voting decisions in the fall.

The survey was conducted in June by Princeton Survey Research Associates International for Bankrate.com, which provides personal finance news and information.

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Beth Fitzgerald

Beth Fitzgerald

Beth Fitzgerald reports on health care, small business and higher education. She joined NJBIZ in 2008 after a 34-year career at the Star-Ledger and has been reporting on business in New Jersey since 1978. Her email is beth@njbiz.com and she is @bethfitzgerald8 on Twitter.

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