Obamacare was a secondary issue in election, Republican poll finds

President Obama said at a news conference Wednesday that he would draw a line against any legislation to repeal his signature healthcare law. Republicans campaigned heavily against it in this year's election.
(Mark Wilson / Getty Images)

Although President Obama’s healthcare law starred in tens of thousands of campaign ads, it “was not a significant vote factor” in Tuesday’s election, according to one of the Republicans’ most prominent polling firms.

The voter survey conducted by Public Opinion Strategies produced some “surprising results,” pollster Bill McInturff wrote in a message to clients. The firm released data about the issue in a blog post.

One out of 10 ads from congressional candidates and outside groups centered on the Affordable Care Act, but only about one-third of voters recalled seeing any of them. By contrast, in the 2010 midterm election, almost 7 in 10 voters remembered seeing an ad on Obamacare.

That finding jibes with other polls that found voters were increasingly tuning out arguments about the healthcare law.


Moreover, nearly 6 in 10 voters said their congressional ballot was not a message about the law. Again, that was in contrast with 2010, when more than 7 in 10 said their ballot was a message about it, with a majority saying they were expressing opposition.

That’s not to say the healthcare law played no role in the campaign. Those who identified themselves as Republican were considerably more likely than Democrats or independents to say they intended to send a message about Obamacare. That finding suggests the law might have helped spur Republican turnout.

Among Democrats, 1 in 4 said their vote was a message supporting the law, while almost 70% said their vote was not a message about it. As for Republicans, 55% said their vote was a message against the law, and 44% said it was not a message.

Separately, an exit poll conducted by a consortium of television networks and the Associated Press also asked about the healthcare law, but posed the question in a different way and got a notably different result.

Rather than ask whether the voter intended to send a message, the exit poll offered a list of four issues and asked which was the most important. The list included “healthcare,” but did not mention the Affordable Care Act.

One in 4 voters chose healthcare as their top issue, and of those voters, 59% voted for a Democrat, the exit poll found, while 39% chose a Republican.

A majority of voters who chose any of the other three issues on the list -- the economy, foreign policy or illegal immigration -- sided with the Republicans.

Asked specifically about the new law, voters on Tuesday split closely, the exit poll found, with 48% saying it went “too far,” and 46% saying it either was “about right” or “didn’t go far enough.”


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